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Home Birth versus Hospital Birth vs Birthing Center

Updated on June 7, 2011
Home birth, hospital childbirth, birth centres
Home birth, hospital childbirth, birth centres

How to choose a place to give birth

If you are lucky to live in the city which offers different kinds of opportunities and places to give birth, you will have to make a decision where to deliver your baby. Are you familiar with advantages and disadvantages of giving birth at home? Did your doctor explained advantages and disadvantages of hospital birth? Or, are birth centers the best solution for you?

Here are the basic facts about all three options, all you need to do is go through every one of them and see what suits you the best.

And, you can choose among these three places to give birth:

  • Home birth
  • Birth centers
  • Hospital childbirth.

But, before you start making the decision, learn as much as you can about current possibilities as well as your personal needs and wants.

  1. Ask around. You can start by asking your friends or doctors which of those places are available to give birth in your town. If your town doesn’t have any birth centers available, there is no point in investigation that option.
  2. Who do you want to be present on your birth? Do you prefer mid wife or a doctor to deliver your baby.
  3. What is your opinion about episiotomy or a c-section? Mid wives are more careful when it comes to episiotomy and prefer natural childbirth.
  4. Think about rooming-in. If you have some doubts about rooming in, you can eliminate some options at the early beginning.
  5. Learn about pros and cons to hospital and home birth. That way you will be able to make more objective decision, which will more likely meet your needs and preferences.

Here are some basic and most important advantages and disadvantages of giving birth at home, in hospital or in birth centers.

Home birth versus hospital:

Advantages and disadvantage of giving birth at home

If you decide to have a natural birth at home, you will enjoy your home privacy and worry less about some administrative things or rules, which you would have to obey in hospital.

Mid wife would be the one to deliver your baby. The biggest advantage of having natural birth at home is that you will have a natural childbirth. Your wishes will be respected and mid wife will not try to speed your birth.

Everything will go naturally and you will be more relaxed. You will be allowed to eat and drink and have anybody you like with you.

The mid wife will take care of your perineum and not make an episiotomy unless it is really necessary.

Some disadvantages of giving birth at home are that if something goes wrong, your mid wife has to be really experienced in order to call the hospital and get you there in time.

You will not get epidural (in case you are considering it), because the mid wife is not allowed to do so.

There is not time to rest. As soon as you give birth, you have to start taking care of your baby. The life goes on immediately.

More about home birth!

If you choose to have a home birth, you should prepare yourself for some unexpected situation.

  1. Meet the mid wife while you are pregnant and get to know each other. That way you will be much more relaxed and you will trust her more.
  2. Make sure you have the hospital near you, so you can get there very fast in case of complications.
  3. Print out instructions for delivering a baby at home in case of emergency situation. In case you have to deliver your baby alone, those instruction could be helpful, so it’s better to have them in advance.

More on Birth

Birthing centers versus hospital

What can you expect if you choose among birthing centers?

Delivering a baby in a birthing center can also be a very nice experience. Birthing centers are something between a home birth and hospital childbirth. The main difference is that a mid wife will deliver your baby instead of a doctor.

There is a possibility to have epidural, because those birth centers often have an anesthesiologist employed.

You have your room and a nurse to help you, but unlike hospital childbirth, you are treated more like a client than a patient.

You can also eat and drink during contractions. You can have your partner near you or a doula if you prefer. You will probably have the room for yourself and complete rooming-in arrangement, which means your baby and even your husband will be with you all the time.

The main disadvantage of giving birth in birthing centers is that there are no doctors sergeants specialized for possible complications. So, in case they happen, you will have to be transferred to a hospital.

You will also have to pay some amount of money for private accommodation, rooming-in arrangement and everything else that is necessary to deliver the baby.

More about birthing centers!

Before you make the decision to deliver your baby in a birthing center, think about these things:

  1. Get to know the mid wife that will deliver your baby.
  2. Ask about the cost of complete arrangement.
  3. Prepare a birth plan and make sure it will be respected.
  4. Check which hospitals are near the birth centers and if they have a contract with it in case of some emergency situations.

Home birth versus hospital:

Advantages and disadvantages of hospital birth

Maybe the safest way to give birth, looking from the side of possible complications and emergency situations is in a hospital.

You will have a doctor specialist and surgeon on your disposal. So, if anything goes wrong, they will provide help as soon as possible. You might even have a mid wife deliver your baby if your pregnancy is non-risky and your birth goes as expected.

You can choose a rooming in arrangement, so if you are very tired, had very long and exhausting birth, hospital nurses can take the baby away during the night or even through some daily periods of time.

You can get any other medication you need and in case of some post delivery complications, doctors can react in no time and help you.

But there are still some disadvantages of hospital birth. The first one is that there is an increased rate of episiotomy. To prevent “possible problems and complications” episiotomy is done way to often in hospitals, without even consulting a woman.

Pitocin medications are also given quite often, because the birth has to end in certain period of time. You can get epidural, if it’s a day and the anesthesiologist is not in a middle of a surgery.

The natural birth plan is not respected maybe in a way you would like it to be. You are considered as a patient and have to lie in the bed. You cannot choose among different positions to deliver your baby in some hospitals. Most hospitals don’t even offer rooming in as a standard arrangement.

More about hospital birth!

  1. Make an extensive birth plan. Having a birth plan will help you be more relaxed. You will be able to make a decision without thinking about it during painful contractions.
  2. Talk to the doctors in hospital and check what is possible and what is not, so you can adapt your birth plan.
  3. Check if rooming in is possible in case you want it.
  4. Check if you can be together with your baby after c-section and start breastfeeding it immediately.


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    • EmmaMedu profile image

      EmmaMedu 6 years ago

      mojefbella, thank you for reading and commenting.

      In some countries, women are not allowed to choose the place of birth. The only option they have is hospital.

      But, in case they do have a possibility to choose, it is advisable to study the options in order to make the best decision for them and their babies.

      I hope I managed to describe the pros and cons for all three options.:o)

    • mojefballa profile image

      Ikeji Chinweuba 6 years ago from Nigeria

      Useful and informative hub.