Choosing a Birth Place

In some areas, there are opportunities to labor and give birth at home, in the hospital or at a birth center. In other areas, hospitals are king and any other options are difficult to find. If you choose a home birth, you have complete control over who will be with you in labor. If you choose a birth center or hospital birth, your attendants will depend on who is on duty when you are in labor. The nice nurse who conducted your hospital tour may not be in that day, and you might get stuck with someone whose personality clashes hard with yours.

Getting recommendations from women who have given birth in your area is a good place to start. The best way to ensure a good birth place fit is to tour each facility you are interested. During the tour listen carefully to the policies of the institution, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Observe the staff and try to interact with them. If you get a chance, ask the staff about their experiences. Get a copy of the birth statistics. This may be given to you as part of the tour information. Knowing the percentages of medicated births and surgical births may help you avoid institutions whose statistics are above national averages.

Although your specific experience may be different, here are some general observations about the benefits and drawbacks of the options you may have for a birth place.


Hospital

Birth Center

Home

Most Restrictive Policies

Some Policies

You choose

Most Prepared for Emergencies

Some Emergency Supplies

Minimal Emergency Supplies

No prep/clean up for you

No prep/clean up for you

You arrange prep/clean up

All supplies on hand

All supplies on hand

You may need to provide supplies

Easy availability

Some availability

Some availability

Average stay 24-48 hours

Average stay less than 8 hours

You are home