Where You Can Deliver Your Baby

newborn baby lying in bed

There are many things to think about when you are having a baby. One of them is where you will go through labor and delivery. A hospital used to be their only option. Today, women have more options.

Path to better health

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 98% of women give birth in hospitals. The rest give birth at home or in independent birthing centers. There are advantages and disadvantages to each location.

Hospital

A hospital is the safest place to deliver your baby. Sometimes there can be complications with childbirth. A hospital has everything you or your baby might need if this happens.

Different hospitals offer different experiences for labor and delivery. In a traditional hospital birth, you may go through several different rooms. This could include one for labor, one for delivery, and one for recovery. Babies are usually taken to their room for feeding and visitation. The rest of the time they remain in a daycare center.

Other hospitals have developed more family-centered care. You stay in one room during labor, delivery, and recovery. The rooms are larger to accommodate family members. They are usually furnished more like a house. Normally your partner can stay with you in these rooms. Your baby stays with you too. These types of environments are more popular in hospitals today.

You should have your baby in a hospital if:

  • You or your baby have problems during pregnancy.
  • Have had a preterm birth, cesarean birth (cesarean section), or other complicated birth before
  • You have an existing problem, such as gestational diabetes, that complicates your pregnancy.
  • You are pregnant with twins or multiples.
  • The baby is in a position that will make delivery difficult
  • You go into labor early
  • You are 35 years old or older
  • You have not gone into labor at 41 weeks.

Advantages

  • A team of experts is immediately available in case something goes wrong.
  • You can receive pain relief if you need it.
  • Emergency services are available for your baby if you become distressed after birth.

Disadvantages

  • It can be more stressful and less comfortable.
  • You will have fewer delivery options.
  • You may have more medical interventions than you would like.
  • You may not know the doctor who delivered your baby.
  • You will probably need to change rooms or be discharged quickly after the birth.

birth center

These centers are set up to give you more options in your birth and less medical intervention. Certified nurse-midwives deliver your baby instead of an obstetrician or doctor. They offer more natural options for labor and delivery. They are designed to make you feel more at home. That way, your birth is more of a natural event than a medical one.

You should look for a center that is accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers (CABC). Make sure the center has agreements with a local hospital in case problems arise during labor or delivery.

Birth centers often allow as many people as you want to attend the birth. They offer options such as jacuzzis or water births. They also don’t interfere as much with your birth process. You are monitored occasionally rather than being hooked up to machines for constant monitoring. Some women prefer this more natural birth experience.

Advantages

  • The surroundings are usually more comfortable than those of a hospital.
  • You are more likely to know the midwife or doctor who delivered your baby.
  • You won’t have to change rooms.
  • If something goes wrong, you’ll still be close to a hospital or a team of medical experts.

Disadvantages

  • You may need to be taken to a hospital if complications arise.
  • There may not be as many options for pain relief. This could include an epidural, which can only be done in a hospital.

Home

Less than 1% of women give birth at home. But it is a trend that has been increasing in recent years. Some women want the comfort of their own home. They also want to have more control over their birth experience. Giving birth at home reduces a woman’s stress, since she is surrounded by everything that is familiar to her. She is free to do what she wants when she wants. A certified nurse-midwife cares for her and delivers the baby.

Advantages

  • There will be fewer delivery interventions.
  • There will be more chances of natural birth and fewer chances of cesarean section.
  • You will feel more comfortable in a familiar environment.
  • You may have a close relationship with your midwife.
  • You don’t have to worry about changing rooms or being discharged quickly.

Disadvantages

  • If something goes wrong, you will have to go to a hospital. If the maternity ward is full, you may have to go further from home.
  • There is a higher risk of complications, especially if it is your first baby.

Things to consider

There are factors that influence where you can have your baby. These include:

  • Where your doctor gives birth. Many women choose their provider and then deliver their baby wherever that doctor works. If you want a birth center or home birth, you’ll need to find out which providers will deliver at those locations. Then you can choose your doctor.
  • What your insurance covers. Some insurance policies may not cover a birth center or home birth. You’ll need to find out what your insurance will cover early in your pregnancy so you can plan accordingly.
  • If your pregnancy is high risk. This means that you are at greater risk of something going wrong during pregnancy or childbirth. Women with high-risk pregnancies should give birth in a hospital. This will ensure that backup services and medical intervention are available if something goes wrong.
  • Where do you live. Some states are friendlier to birthing centers or home births than others. Check state regulations before deciding where to deliver your baby. You may also be limited depending on which hospitals or birthing centers are nearby.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What is the best place to have my baby?
  • Is a birth center or home birth safe for me and my baby?
  • What facilities do you deliver to?
  • Will I have a say over the degree of monitoring or intervention that is carried out?
  • Will I have to change rooms?
  • Can my partner stay with me?
  • Can my baby stay with me all the time?
  • Will I have to share a room with another new mother?

Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians: Having a Baby Outside of a Hospital: What You Need to Know

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