In 1900, almost all births occurred at home. Women had their babies in their homes, in their own bed, with the assistance of family, friends and local/community midwives. By the 1940’s the home birth rate dropped to 44% and continued to decline to around 1% by 1970. From that time period until the early 1990’s, around or slightly under 1% of births occurred at home. However, since 2004, home birth rates have increased 29% and continue to rise. Women today are now able to consider the option of home birth once again as a safe alternative to hospital care – depending on their pregnancy.
Everyone knows that babies can – and sometimes should – be born in a hospital setting. However, it is important for women to weigh their options and educate themselves on other birth locations should they be interested. In addition to home and the hospital, many women find birthing centers to be a nice compromise. Prior to making any pregnancy related decision, the best thing a woman can do it weigh her options, keeping her pregnancy and health in mind at all times.
Pros – Surrounded by medical interventions/technology in case of an emergency, nursing staff tends to the needs of mom/baby, nursery care available to allow mom time to rest, trained professionals to deal with complications, variety of resources available (pediatrician, lactation consultant, family counselor, etc.), care covered by insurance
Cons – Higher chance of complications due to medical interventions, higher risk of cesarean section, some hospitals have policies/protocols that you have to follow (ex. automatic IV insertion upon admission, 24 hour labor maximum after water breaks, Pitocin or other interventions if labor “stalls”), several medical personnel in and out of the room during and after labor/childbirth
Birth Center delivery:
Pros – Prenatal appointments, labor and childbirth, and postpartum care takes place all at the same place – creates a sense of comfort and familiarity, private suite typically with kitchen and living room accommodations for family members, commonly under the care of a midwife resulting in a more personal, supportive experience, trained professionals to deal with complications, encouragement to have a more natural childbirth experience, lower costs, less time away from home, quiet experience with few medical personnel – typically just the woman’s midwife and doula are present, some medical interventions available
Cons – Pediatricians aren’t on location, in an emergency situation the woman would have to be transported to the nearest hospital, sometimes insurance doesn’t cover birthing center deliveries, less medical technology in the event of complications, no nursery to send baby to
Pros – Much more calm, comfortable and relaxed environment, natural experience, no one there other than family, friends and midwife/doula, immediately after delivery the mom and baby are back to “normal” at home, freedom to choose everything about labor/childbirth process
Cons – Can be far from hospital in the event of an emergency, can be unprepared to handle some complications, often insurance doesn’t cover home births, no medical staff present other than midwife/doula (ex. no pediatricians, surgeons, nursing staff, etc.)
While a home birth might sound like a good fit for you, if you have anything at all that isn’t a “picture perfect”, normal pregnancy, being away from a hospital with potentially necessary medical interventions could be harmful to you and your baby. At the same time, if you are low risk, live within a short distance to a medical center and desire an all natural experience, perhaps a home birth is indeed to best option for you. Perhaps you’re torn between wanting the safety of having medical professionals nearby “just in case” and wanting a quiet, relaxing, natural environment, then a birthing center may be just right for you! Take some time to think about it, do your research and make a choice to suit you. As I’ve said before, the most important thing to keep in mind when considering where to deliver your baby is what YOU want and what is safest/the best option for your pregnancy.
Stay tuned for the next segment in my pregnancy series… it’s a hot, controversial topic that is being talked about more and more: VBACs. What are the risks, myths, and facts surrounding vaginal births after cesareans?
I’d love to hear about your experiences, whether your baby was born in a hospital, birthing center or at home. Where did you choose to have your baby and were you happy with your choice? Let me know below! As always, if you have any questions – I’d love to answer them for you! 🙂