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Most people give birth in a hospital, but have you ever wondered if that is the right decision for you? What other options are even out there? Why do some people prefer NOT to give birth in a traditional hospital setting? I’m here to discuss the three most popular options along with the pros and cons of each.
If you prefer to listen instead of read, check out my podcast on this topic here!
First, you need to find out what your insurance covers. Some insurances do not cover birth center or home births at all. You will have to decide if it is worth paying for it yourself or changing your birth plan.
You will also need to check and see which providers are in-network. If your insurance does not cover any midwives in your area, you will have a much harder time getting a birth center or home birth paid for. I’ll cover more about selecting your provider in a following post.
Once you have an idea of what will be covered by insurance, you need to decide what type of birth experience you want.
The most common option is a hospital setting. A study done in 2012 showed that 98.6% of births in the U.S. occurred in a hospital. The most common reasons to choose a hospital birth is if you are high risk.
This could be if you are:
- Attempting a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)
- Expecting multiples
- You have gestational diabetes
- If you have any problems with your placenta
Some people may also suggest planning a hospital birth for your first pregnancy since you don’t know what kind of experience you will have.
I had a perfect pregnancy up until my 36 week tummy check; until I found out my blood pressure was through the roof. They scheduled an induction for gestational hypertension for three days later! It would have been hard to change from a home or hospital birth so late in my pregnancy. I probably would have been assigned an OB/GYN that I didn’t know, in a setting that I wasn’t familiar with. There was so much going on already with a surprise induction, having to throw away my birth plan on top of it would have been hard. [If you want to read more about my birth story, you can find it here.]
Non-hospital births only account for about 1.4% of all U.S. births. Having a home birth is the second most common; clocking in at less than 1% of all births in the U.S.
Most women enjoy the freedom and familiarity of giving birth at home. You can decide to labor wherever and however you feel is best without having all the restrictions of a hospital birth.
You will want to choose a midwife to attend your birth and possibly a doula to help with setup, cleanup, and general support before, during, and after labor. The best part is you don’t have to go anywhere! Once your baby is born, you can snuggle them in the comfort of your own home. Usually your doula or midwife team will help clean up and get you settled into this new life.
The downside to having a home birth, is if major complications arise you will have to be transferred to a hospital.
The third option is a birth center. Even though they have become much more popular in recent years, they still only account for less than half a percent of all births in the US.
Birth centers encourage a natural birth and are usually run by a nurse-midwife. They may or may not have a physician overseeing the facility. The rooms inside a birth center are typically much cozier than a hospital and recovery time is much shorter due to the lack of interventions and medications. Most parents can expect to go home 4-8 hours after their baby is born, depending on the circumstances.
Depending on the facility, you may need to be transferred to a hospital if complications arise, similar to a home birth.
If you are thinking about a birthing center, some questions you may want to ask are:
- Do they only allow low risk patients?
- Do they have a hospital or OB/GYN that they work with in case of an emergency that they cannot handle?
- Will you have to transfer care if you become high risk?
- What is the rate of transfer from the center to a hospital? You are hoping for a number between 7-12%.
- How long do you stay after birth?
Whatever path you decide to take will be the right one for your family, because it will be the decision that makes YOU the most comfortable. The more relaxed you are at your birth, the easier it will be for your body to do what it has to do.
For some women, being at a hospital will be the most relaxing as they know any emergencies can be handled immediately. Other women will find more comfort in having a relaxing surrounding and an environment that they have more control over.
If you aren’t sure which category you fall into, tour a couple of different places and chat with an OB and Midwife. Whatever you do, don’t feel pressured into making a decision you aren’t comfortable with. This is your birth, your pregnancy, and your body – so it is your decision (and maybe a little input from your partner).
Once you figure out where you want to give birth, now you can decide what type of provider you would like. Check out my post on choosing a Midwife or OBGYN.