There are many things to think about when you’re going to have a baby. One of those is where you’ll go through labor and delivery. A hospital used to be your only choice. Today, women have more options.
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A large majority of women deliver their babies in a hospital. But you do have other options. Here are the different places you can deliver, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each.
A hospital is the safest place to deliver your baby. Sometimes there can be complications with the birth. 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 a number of different rooms. This could include one for labor, one for delivery, and one for recovery. Usually, the babies are brought to your room for feedings and visits. The rest of the time, they stay in a nursery.
Other hospitals have developed more family-centered care. You stay in one room for labor, delivery, and recovery. The rooms are larger to accommodate family members. They are usually furnished more like a home. Your partner can usually stay with you in these rooms. Your baby stays with you, as well. These types of settings are more popular in hospitals today.
You should have your baby in a hospital if:
- You or your baby has problems during the pregnancy.
- You have an existing issue, such as gestational diabetes, that makes your pregnancy more complicated.
- You are pregnant with twins or multiples.
- The baby is in a position that will make delivery more difficult.
- You go into labor early.
- A team of experts is available right away in case something goes wrong.
- You can have pain relief if you need it.
- Emergency services are available for your baby if he or she is in distress after birth.
- It may be more stressful for you in a sterile, medical environment.
- You may have more medical interventions that you’d like.
- You might not know the doctor who delivers your baby.
- You will probably have to move rooms or be discharged quickly after birth.
These centers are set up to provide you with more options in your delivery and less medical intervention. Certified nurse-midwives deliver your baby instead of an obstetrician. They offer more natural options for labor and delivery. They are designed to make you feel more at home. That way your delivery is more of a natural event than a medical one.
They often allow as many people as you wish to attend your delivery. They offer options like Jacuzzi tubs or water births. They also don’t interfere as much with your labor process. You are monitored occasionally instead of being hooked up to machines for constant monitoring. Some women prefer this more natural experience of childbirth.
- The surroundings are more comfortable than a hospital.
- You’re more likely to know the midwife or doctor delivering your baby.
- You won’t have to move rooms.
- If something goes wrong, you’re still close to a hospital or a team of medical experts.
- You might have to be transferred to a hospital if there are complications.
- There might not be as many pain relief options. This could include an epidural, which can only be done in a hospital.
Less than 1% of women deliver their baby 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 more control over their childbirth experience. Giving birth at home lowers a woman’s stress, as 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 attends to her and delivers the baby.
- You won’t be pressured into medical interventions. This could include a forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery.
- You’ll be more comfortable in familiar surroundings.
- You will know your midwife.
- You don’t have to worry about moving rooms or being discharged quickly.
- If anything goes wrong, you’ll need to be transferred to a hospital. If the maternity ward is full, you might have to go further from home.
- There is increased risk of complications happening, 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 delivers. Many women choose their provider and then deliver their baby wherever that doctor practices. If you want a birthing center or home birth, you’ll need to find out what providers will deliver in those locations. Then you can choose your doctor.
- What your insurance covers. Some insurance policies may not cover a birthing center or a home delivery. You’ll need to find out what your insurance will cover early in your pregnancy so you can make plans accordingly.
- If your pregnancy is high-risk. This means you are at greater risk of something going wrong during your pregnancy or delivery. Women with high-risk pregnancies should deliver at a hospital. This will ensure there will be back-up services and medical intervention available if something goes wrong.
- Where you live. Some states are “friendlier” to birthing center or home births than others. Check your state regulations before you decide where to deliver your baby. You may also be limited based on what hospitals or birthing centers are nearby.
Questions to ask your doctor
- Where is the best place for me to have my baby?
- Is a birthing center or home birth safe for me and my baby?
- What facilities do you deliver at?
- Will I have a say in how much monitoring or intervention is done?
- 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?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.