While hospitals have become the most common place to have a baby, that was not always the case. Through most of history babies were born at home, attended by the various women in the birthing woman's life and/or a midwife. In fact, by the 1930's only about half of all births happened in hospitals. About 40 years later in the 1970's almost all babies were born in a hospital. There are some definite benefits to birthing in a hospital, and a few drawbacks as well.
Benefits of Hospital Birth:
- The safest option for high-risk situations
- Often gives parents peace of mind to know that any unexpected situation can be dealt with swiftly
- Hospitals offer several medical options for managing discomfort
- The only option for cesarean births
- Offer tubs for hydrotherapy during birthing
- Are comfortable and experienced with those who choose a non-medicated birth
- Allow birthing women to eat a drink during birth
Drawbacks to hospital birth:
- Timing arrival at the hospital can sometimes be tricky. Too early may mean repeated trips are needed. Waiting too long may mean a birthing woman doesn't have time to arrive.
- Greater access to medical equipment sometimes leads to a greater reliance on them.
- Can be chaotic.
- It can be difficult to rest in a hospital setting.
Many expectant women who are designated low-risk have the option of birthing their baby at home under the care of a midwife or supportive doctor.
Benefits of home birth:
- Home is a comfortable, familiar environment
- Home births eliminate the need to decide when to leave for the birthplace
- Home births ease the postpartum time by allowing a woman to stay home after birth rather than transferring home after her birth.
- Home tends to be a much calmer birthing environment
Some home births:
- Are less expensive than hospital births
- Are attended by obstetricians
Drawbacks of home birth:
- Not suitable for high-risk births
- In the unlikely event of a complication requiring significant intervention, a transfer to the hosptial may be needed. This transfer can sometimes be traumatic.
- Some parents are less comfortable at home because there is less medical equipment available.
- There are no medical options for managing discomfort
Birth centers are not available everywhere, but in places where they are available they can be a good alternative to both hospital and home births. They are a kind of an “in between” option for those who like some of the benefits of both.
Benefits of birth centers:
- More calm, comfortable and home-like than a hospital
- Often have beautiful, resort-like accommodations
- Short 6-12 hour stays after birth
Some birth centers:
- Are in a wing of a hospital, allowing for easy transfer in the unlikely event that it is needed
- Others are nearer the hospital than some homes. This gives some parents peace of mind to know that a transfer could be done much more quickly from the birth center than from home.
- Have obstetricians attending births
Drawbacks of birth centers:
- Very low risk tolerance sometimes leads to panic
- Resting for a few days before going home is not an option
- Just as for hospital births, timing arrival can be an issue.
Are you someone who has already had a baby in one of these places? What would you add to this list for those considering birthing there?
My introduction to doulas came when I was 36 weeks pregnant with my first child. My midwife looked at me and said, “You need a doula.” I had no idea what a doula was, but she gave me an email address for an amazing doula who eventually attended the birth of my first.
When my first little guy was just 7 months old, I found out that I was pregnant with my second. I promptly called my doula friend who said, “You need Hypnobabies!” I signed up and took the Hypnobabies class she was teaching at the time and never looked back! My Hypnobabies birth was amazing! My husband and I could hardly believe that birth could be so comfortable and calm! After a fabulous second birth experience I decided that I wanted to be a part of helping families have the best birth for them. I started by becoming a doula. I trained with DONA International and in 2014 I decided to begin the process of becoming a Hypnobabies Instructor. I was officially certified as a Hypnobabies instructor and Hypnodoula in June of 2015. I love helping families become educated about childbirth and supporting them through pregnancy. In 2016, I officially completed the Becoming Dad Certification process and am now "Becoming Dad Certified."