As I look at the calendar and realize that I only have TWO weeks or so until our new little addition arrives, my thoughts are clearly turning towards the big D-Day (mommies of course understand that as delivery day!). It’s an amazing, life-changing event that most women will remember until the day they pass from this earth. Interestingly, as important as the birth of a child is, many women simply assume that it will happen for them in a hospital without really considering the other birth place options that might be available to them.
This week, I want to look at the three major options families have when choosing where to have a birth: the hospital, a free-standing birth center, or in a home. There are all sorts of things to consider when deciding where to birth, and further options to choose from once you know where you want to be. Hopefully these posts will help you choose what is right for you and your family should the time come to welcome a new baby into the world!
For most women, when they think of having a baby, they imagine it happening in a hospital. Though the rate of out-of-hospital births is growing, still roughly 99% of women have their babies in a hospital setting in the United States.
- Hospitals are equipped with the most advanced medical supplies, equipment, medicine, and professionals. Should an emergency arise, it can quickly be addressed. Transportation to larger facilities is also easily possible when needed.
- Many OBs and midwives only deliver at hospitals.
- Hospital births are the most common, and rarely will anyone be questioned about their decision to birth there.
- A large staff is available to help care for the baby during the first two to three days, should the family desire help or extra rest.
- Some moms feel that the hospital is a sort of break if they have other children. They may feel that they can more easily focus on rest and recovery.
- It can be more challenging to avoid the “cascade of interventions” in a hospital. Induction or augmentation of labor often leads to continuous fetal monitoring and medical pain relief, which may lead to a distressed infant or slowed labor progress, which may lead to a Cesarean section that could have been avoided.
- Vitals need to be regularly taken during your hospital stay which can interrupt rest.
- Hospitals tend to be hot-spots for “super-bugs” or bacterias and viruses that are very hard to treat. Think MRSA. Hospitals are also places where people go when sick or injured, while birth is for the most part a natural bodily process.
- If you have birth preferences that are outside of standard procedure, it may be challenging to have your wishes honored.
- Hospitals vary greatly in their attitude towards birth. Some are very open to natural labor and delivery, while others may push harder for interventions.
Is the Hospital Right for You?
The hospital may be right for you if one or more of these apply:
- You are very nervous about the delivery process or want to have full access to pain medication.
- You would rather defer to the medical professionals on decisions regarding labor, delivery, recovery, and newborn care.
- You fully trust your caregivers and hospital staff to honor your wishes.
- You have plenty of support (family, friends, or hired) to ensure that your wishes are supported.
- Your health situation, or that of your baby, demands extra medical attention. Thank God for hospitals in these cases!
- You prefer making choices more in line with the norm of American culture.
- You or your husband are uncomfortable with a home birth and do not have access to a freestanding birth center.
Choosing the Hospital
If you think that the hospital is the best fit for your delivery, there are some things to consider before the big day comes. It also is very helpful to hear from others who chose a hospital birth and learn from their experiences.
Some Things to Consider for a Hospital Birth
This list of questions is far from exhaustive, but can be a good starting grounds to talk over with your husband, caregivers, and support team members.
- Who do you want in the delivery room?
- What options do you want available for labor and delivery?
- What kind of monitoring do you want during labor?
- Will you use a doula?
- Will you write up a birth plan?
- Do you want your baby in the nursery?
- Do you want routine shots, baths, and other treatments preformed while at the hospital?
- Do you want supplemental bottles or pacifiers given at any time?
- Do you want to pack your own clothes or stick with the hospital gown?
- How do you want unforeseen circumstances handled?
Other Hospital Birth Experiences
- This post offers an encouraging look at the real possibility of enjoying a natural birth in the hospital, free from medications and other medical interventions.
- On the other end of the spectrum is this post which sadly exemplifies the cascade of interventions that can result in a surgical birth which may have otherwise been unnecessary.
- Many couples are finding that a labor and delivery doula is a wonderful asset to have working for them at a hospital birth, and this post explains more about what a doula can do for you.
Two of my births happened in a hospital. One was induced, medicated, and far from what I ideally wanted. Though I took a birth class at the hospital, I was very much ignorant of the options available to me, and the interventions that may be presented.
After doing a lot of personal reading and research, I had an unmedicated birth in a hospital for my second baby. Using a nurse-midwife, having a birth plan, and being more informed were key elements in my birth being what I wanted. I did not give enough attention to newborn care, however, and ended up with an overall disappointing hospital experience.