Giving birth is one of the most exciting and intimate events in a woman’s life, which calls for trying to plan for the most comfortable and uncomplicated birth possible. As this is such an important life event, it is essential that expecting mothers make a carefully thought out decision during pregnancy on what type of birth plan to go with. All the pros and cons of each type of birth should be considered.
Most women (ca. 98 percent) still prefer a conventional birth at a public hospital, where they deliver and recover for a few days.
For pregnant women who value high-quality medical care, giving birth in a hospital is still the safest option. A hospital has all the necessary medical equipment and is prepared to handle an emergency. Additionally, suitable doctors are always available. Another benefit is the availability of every kind of pain medication, including PDA. Following delivery care is extensive and a lactation consultant is also available to support the mother if needed.
Birth is an intimate event, and hospitals often convey a sterile atmosphere that is not very relaxing or friendly. Shared rooms, change in hospital personnel and the constant presence of noisy medical equipment are also a hindrance to a high level of comfort. Another disadvantage is that hospitals often assign an unknown midwife to the mother in labor, who possibly does not share the mother‘s wishes for the birth and could have a shift change during labor. Some hospitals do provide the courtesy of allowing your own midwife to be present at the birth.
What to Think About
Before choosing a hospital, it is important to thoroughly inform yourself about its condition. Most clinics offer informational meetings. This will help you to determine ahead of time if the hospital is a good fit and if you feel comfortable there. You can find answers to all sorts of questions. For example, what types of deliveries are possible at the hospital, what the doctor-patient ratio is, what types of pain medications are used and if there is a NICU present in the case of an emergency. The proximity and accessibility of the hospital are also important. Test drives to the hospital can help you time the distance.
More and more women are deciding to go with an outpatient birth, which allows you to leave the hospital in just a few hours after the baby is delivered. The prerequisite is that mother and child are healthy and without any complications.
Mothers can take advantage of medical treatment in the hospital and then come home to familiar surroundings shortly after the birth. According to studies, post-partum depression is less likely in women who leave the hospital quickly. Nursing is also less complicated and more successful. When home shortly after birth, the mother’s milk comes in earlier because of the relaxed and familiar surroundings at home. Additionally, newborns who spend their first days at home instead of at a hospital tend to be more even-tempered. Other family members can also more easily be included at home.
Sometimes a new mother can be overwhelmed with her new responsibilities after an outpatient birth, especially if the needed support at home is not present. To prevent this, preparations are very important ahead of time. There is no 24-hour care at home as there would be in a hospital.
What to Think About
It is important to find a suitable midwife and pediatrician during pregnancy so that you will have the proper help and care you need after you give birth and go back home. Make sure to notify the hospital of your choice. Midwife care following the birth should last at least 10 days. You should also organize your affairs prior to the birth as much as possible (shopping, housekeeping, etc.). The cost of an outpatient birth in a hospital and the lawful care following the birth by a midwife at home are covered by insurance.
Even though home births are rare today, some women prefer not to deliver in a hospital and still find this to be the best alternative. Home births in the Netherlands are high at 30 percent, while Austria only shows 1.5 percent and Germany around 2 percent. The U.S. is similar at 1.29 percent.
The biggest advantage of this delivery method is that the mother does not have to leave her environment and is able to deliver in the comfort of her own home. This allows her to escape the sterile atmosphere that most hospitals convey. At home, you are not exposed to disturbing influences and you are surrounded by the quiet and relaxing atmosphere needed during birth. Hospitals often require mothers to share rooms with another woman in labor, which can infringe upon your privacy. The presence of family members is sometimes also limited to visitor’s hours. At home, anyone can participate in the birth that the mother wishes. Having the same midwife for the whole process and controlling all the aspects yourself are also advantages. The mother decides how to deliver, and if she wants to stand, sit, or lay down.
The biggest disadvantage is that comprehensive medical care is not possible in a home. If complications should arise, no doctor is immediately present, so mother and child must be first brought to a hospital, which can consume valuable time. Even though statistically home births usually take place without complications, hospitals are the best place to be in an emergency. The fact that midwives cannot administer stronger pain medication is also a disadvantage. Expecting mothers who are considering PDA should stay away from the home birth option. In hospitals, there is also complete patient support, which cannot be matched by the care of a midwife in your home, even if she checks in on you daily.
What to Think About
Before settling on a home birth, you should consider the advice of a doctor and exclude the possibility of certain risks. Women who suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes, as well as those expecting multiples, are discouraged from having a home birth. In these cases, a hospital birth should be the priority, as complications can be expected. Most important for a home birth is deciding on an appropriate and licensed midwife who shares the birth views of the mother. It is best to choose your midwife in the first trimester, which leaves enough time to become familiar and to discuss any questions with regard to the birth procedure. As the due date draws near, the midwife needs to be on call. The birthing area in the home should also be prepared prior to delivery. Make sure there is plenty of room that it is well heated and that any hygienic requirements are met. Appropriate preparations should also be made for the time following the birth, such as stocking the pantry.
Even though 98 percent of children are born in hospitals, some women find birth centers to be a practical alternative. Birth Centers are smaller establishments which are often single family homes that are run by midwives and offer a familiar atmosphere. Similarly to an outpatient birth, a mother and child without complications may go home mere hours after the birth and receive care from a midwife there.
The main advantage of delivering in a birth center is the comfortable atmosphere, which a large hospital is unable to provide. A birth center also provides one midwife for the entire labor and delivery, which is often not possible in hospitals due to shift changes. Most medical equipment is forgone and all family members are welcome. The expecting mother can decide herself in what manner she would like to give birth. According to studies, women who have given birth in birth centers have fewer problems during and after the delivery. The delivery process itself resembles that of a home birth. Personal wishes and expectations can be cleared with the midwife ahead of time. Another advantage is that most birth centers offer prenatal care and birth preparation.
Generally, a doctor is not present during delivery at a birth center. In the case of an emergency mother and child must be brought immediately to a hospital. A birth center also does not have the necessary medical equipment available at a hospital. Midwives are not allowed to administer strong pain medication, which is a hindrance for many women.
What to Think About
Inform yourself early about the establishments available in your area and compare quotes. Frequently birth centers will offer informational meetings that can help answer your questions such as how many women deliver at the birth center, what pain medication alternatives are available and how postnatal care is performed. No matter what delivery method you decide on, weigh the pros and cons carefully first before you select which method will fit you the best.