It is becoming increasingly more common for expecting parents to decide where to give birth. Expecting parents now can decide whether to give birth at a traditional hospital, or seek alternative birthing options such as a birthing center or home birth. In preparation for giving birth, there are many things to consider. Where to give birth plays a big role in your birth plan. It is important to explore all of your options to go into your labor and birth with confidence and ease.
What is a birthing center?
Birthing centers are typically independent facilities though some are affiliated with hospitals. While birthing centers can be thought of as smaller versions of hospitals, they are not at all like hospitals in many ways. For starters, most of the people who attend birthing centers are already doing so because they want to have the birth experience that they seek. For some, it is an alternative to a hospital setting. For others, it is a middle ground between hospital and home. At birthing centers, your labor will never be induced or medically stimulated. Birthing centers are equipped with oxygen, medication and professional birthing nurses, and a care team who will be there with you throughout your labor. There are also birthing centers that have midwives, doulas and doula-certified birth companions to assist with birth.
What are the benefits of using a birth center?
- Birthing centers offer expecting mothers a sense of both control and involvement without medical interventions such as Pitocin.
- Expecting mothers have an option for natural childbirths
- Birth centers are often larger than a doctor's office, with a home-like feel to them. They're a way for expecting mothers to be informed and involved in their own birth process, making the experience much more personal and natural.
- Accredited birthing centers have a network of services, they are often times in agreements with laboratories for necessary prenatal care screenings and testings as well as obstetrician gynecologists and nearby hospitals in case there is a need to transfer you during labor, birth or postpartum.
- Birthing centers foster an encouraging environment.
- You have the ability to move freely, as well as choosing the position you'd like to be in for labor and birth.
- Birthing centers welcome family members and support people into the delivery room to experience the labor and birthing process, even your older children are welcomed to come to provide labor support. They encourage and support families.
- Birthing centers tend to be at a lower cost compared to a hospital. Birthing centers offer affordable labor and delivery rates and amenities such as a nursery and a private room for bonding.
- Less interventions result in birthing centers feeling more like home.
Are you a good candidate for a birth center?
There are a few ways you can begin to understand if you are a good candidate for a birth center, the first is by calling a birth center. You will want to provide a detailed health history. There are questions pertaining to your medical history that will be important in understanding if you are a good candidate. Your medical history includes any pre-existing medical conditions like high blood pressure, or a previous cesarean section. Some high-risk pregnancies may not be suitable for a birth center. If you have been told to have a low-risk pregnancy, and desire a natural birthing experience, you may be a good candidate for a birth center.
When deciding to do a home birth, you may need to find a midwife or other health care providers to guide and encourage you through both labor and vaginal birth. Childbirth at home was the normal and only option 75 years ago, now only about 2% of women opt to have a home birth. Home births are unmedicated and attended by a licensed nurse-midwife, certified nurse midwife, naturopathic midwife and sometimes accompanied by a doula. During home births, natural births are done without epidural or pain medication, though there are various mind-body techniques to keep both the expecting parent and child at ease, reducing pain and promoting a safe labor and birth.
What are the benefits of doing a home birth?
There are many similarities to that of a birthing center when it comes to the benefits of a home birth, but here are some benefits unique to a home birth.
- Those who plan a home birth do so to avoid medical interventions such as epidural anesthesia as well as the opportunity to be in the comfort of their own homes.
- There is no need to have to be transported to the hospital or any other medical care facility.
- The comfort of a familiar environment can make it easy to transition to breastfeeding.
- The expecting parents have the ability to invite as few or many relatives as they would like to take part in the labor and birth.
- There is a sense of comfort to vocalize and even yell if need be.
Are you a good candidate for a home birth?
Similar to births at a birth center it is important to discuss all medical history with a health care professional such as a midwife. Home births can be a realistic birthing option for women who have a low-risk, normal pregnancy.
In addition to deciding upon the alternative of birth center or home birth, some parents may opt to have a water birth. Birthing tubs can be brought into the home or birthing center. A water birth happens when a mother goes through all or some stages of childbirth in a tub or jacuzzi, or portable tub/pool. Women tend to chose water births because they can be more relaxing and offer some pain relief. Some parents opt to a water birth because the partner can also get into the tub to offer support and comfort throughout the labor and birth.
Now that you know your options
Whether deciding to do a home birth or go to a birthing center, water birth or not it is important to understand and explore all options. These alternatives to hospital births offer options to expecting parents to think about. It is important to understand the benefits as well as access the risks associated with each alternative option. Each family will decide what is best for them based on medical history, research, and what is desired for the birthing experience.