Whether this is your first or your third pregnancy, when it comes to preparing for delivery there are an abundance of options to choose from. If this is your first pregnancy, those options can be overwhelming. If you’re looking into birth locations, two options you may find yourself jumping between are midwife-led birth centers or the traditional hospital approach.
Being pregnant is a beautiful time. It’s full of new discoveries and many decisions to make. One of the most important decisions you’re faced with is where to give birth to your little one. Before the dawn of modern medicine, giving birth always took place at home. As medicine and technology has advanced, more options have become available. Deciding between giving birth at a birth center or a hospital can be a tough decision. This guide will help you think through some of the pros and cons in order to make a decision.
What is a Midwife Birth Center?
Most people are unfamiliar with the concept of a birth center. Some people believe they have a reputation to be risky or unsafe places to give birth. However, birth centers are nationally accredited and properly licensed places to give birth. The medical professionals are licensed midwives and doulas. At times, they even employ physicians. In other words, birth centers are totally safe and legitimate places to give birth.
The concept of a birth center is to be a safe and natural environment for women to give birth. Birth Centers are smaller establishments which are often single family homes that are run by midwives and offer a familiar atmosphere. Birthing rooms in these centers often resemble a bedroom in a home. They typically employ a smaller amount of staff and have specific health care professionals assigned to each woman. This environment is designed to be more welcoming to a pregnant woman and to provide an environment in which she feels safe.
Advantages of a Birth Center
Many women who give birth at a birthing center speak very highly of the experience. The birthing center takes pride in offering a very personal and custom-made birthing experience for each couple.
Every woman is assigned a doula that assists the woman throughout her entire pregnancy. The doula knows each case thoroughly and is there with the midwife for every appointment through the nine months of pregnancy. Women love this because they get to know the staff that works with them. They don’t have to worry about constantly being assigned new nurses or doctors. They can develop a relationship with the doulas and midwives and cultivate that throughout the pregnancy process. Having these relationships makes a huge difference when the stress of giving birth is at hand.
Patients Preferences are Encouraged
Instead of following a hospital’s list of rules and guidelines, birthing centers are more “free-spirited.” If the family wants music, dancing, family or friends to visit, or anything else, the staff at the birth center accommodates them. It’s normal for a pregnant woman to have food cravings even up until delivery time. These cravings are encouraged, as the staff seeks to keep the woman in positive spirits before giving birth.
Go Home Faster
Instead of staying for two-to-three days after giving birth, birthing centers work to send the woman home as soon as it’s safe. This gives an opportunity for mother and baby to rest in their home environment instead of somewhere unfamiliar.
Disadvantages of a Birthing Center
Some birthing centers do not accept insurance coverage. Be sure to research this before choosing a birthing center if you do plan to use your insurance. Some birthing centers will accept partial insurance coverage, so this might be an option for you.
No Operating Room
In the event of an emergency or something going wrong during the labor process, there is not a hospital or operating room attached. Many birthing centers are close to hospitals but this is something to be aware of, especially if an emergency C-section is necessary.
Choosing a Traditional Hospital Birth
In contrast to the more free-spirited birthing center, a hospital birth is a more traditional experience. 98 percent of mothers decide for this birth location. You are given the opportunity to select your doctor as well as which hospital you’d prefer to give birth in.
Giving birth in a hospital is seen as a more traditional method because many parents find comfort in knowing they can get the best medical attention available if something goes wrong. Some parents choose to bring their certified midwife with them to a hospital birth. This is permitted as long as they’ve been pre-approved permission to deliver at that hospital.
Advantages of a Hospital Birth
Access to Emergency Care
As mentioned earlier, birthing centers do not have access to operating rooms like hospitals do. In the event that something goes wrong for either mother or baby, there is a wide variety of staff and resources available to spring into action to help.
Epidurals and Pain Medication
Many women choose to have an epidural anesthesia before giving birth. This significantly lessens the pain, causing the birthing experience to be much less traumatic for a woman. Hospitals have this as well as other pain medications readily available.
Disadvantages of a Hospital Birth
Stricter Policies and Rules
Hospitals have strict policies about what can take place in the birthing room, who can be present, and when people can visit. If you’re giving birth at a hospital, be sure to find out what is and is not permitted so you aren’t surprised when the day arrives.
Less Personal Environment
Giving birth is one of the most difficult things a woman will ever do. Being in an environment that is welcoming and comfortable can make a huge difference in the overall experience. Hospitals tend to be less personal and more sterile. Ask for a tour of the mothers and babies wing of your hospital before making your selection. This way, you’ll know what to expect and be sure you are satisfied with giving birth in that environment.
Risk of Infection is Higher
Because so many people are coming and going from hospitals, there is a higher risk of infection and catching illnesses. Even though most hospitals have high hygienic standards, be sure to always wash your hands and take the necessary precautions to keep you and your loved ones healthy as you come and go.
There is no right or wrong answer about choosing a birthing center or a traditional hospital setting. Speak with your healthcare professional and your partner before deciding. It also helps to take a tour of both facility options. In the end, choose the option that you feel most comfortable with as you bring a new life into this world.