Today, many expectant mothers are able to choose their birth place between hospital, home, or birth center. Being informed about these options will help you have the birth experience you desire.
- A hospital is the most common birth option. You have access to doctors who specialize in obstetrics. They are most experienced with high risk pregnancy and birth situations. If you wish to schedule routine tests to reach your comfort level, an obstetric care provider can furnish you with a variety during your pregnancy. You will also have access to epidural anesthesia and sedatives on demand during your labor.
- Some hospital settings may also provide you with CNMs (Certified Nurse Midwives) who must work with hospital protocol and with an obstetric physician. However, a CNM may be able to provide you with a more personal level of care that doesn’t make you feel as though you are being monitored in the expectation a problem will arise.
- Hospitals vary in what they offer. If you are seeking a natural birth experience – i.e. an experience with as few drugs and interventions as possible – some hospitals and obstetric doctors will accommodate you. It is especially important for you as a patient to feel respected and listened to by your care provider. If you feel any gut inclinations your desires are not being heard, do not hesitate to find another care provider. Remember that you have this right as a consumer, and you do not have to settle for less.
Check out this link from The Bump: What Happens at the Hospital When You Deliver.
Birth Center Setting:
- Birth Center setting- If you desire a birth experience with little to no interventions or drugs as well as more mobile freedom in labor, a free standing birth center provides this option. Centers are typically staffed by CNMs. Centers are also close to hospitals in the event you may need to transfer. You will often have access to a large comfortable living space where you can labor with little to no interruption. If you are seeking continual skin to skin and minimal intervention for your newborn – i.e. vaccinations, vitamin k shot, eye ointments, and PKU tests – a birth center may accommodate you. They will not force these measures on your newborn.
- A birth center is also a great option if you want a great start for breastfeeding. Centers provide you an optimal environment that truly encourages breastfeeding. They will never offer you formula or whisk you baby off for hours and give him a bottle. A birth center provides a happy medium between birth in a hospital and birthing at home.
Check out 21 Reasons to Have Your Baby at a Birth Center from the Healthy Home Economist.
Home Birth Setting:
- Home Sweet Home. Giving birth at home has become a trend that ironically used to be the norm for everyone giving birth before hospitals came into vogue around the turn of the 19th century. If you are sure you want a birth with no interventions, medications, and in the comfort of your home, a home birth may be your best option.
- Home births are typically the domain of a CPM, Certified Professional Midwife. She assists birth as a minimal intervening presence. She works best managing low risk birth. Thankfully, many women fall into the low risk category. A CPM carries oxygen with her if the need arises to resuscitate a newborn. Although home birth has many critics, it is one of the safest options for labor and birth if you are low risk.
- One of the many benefits of having a midwife as your care provider includes longer prenatal visits which are comprehensive. A typical visit with your midwife will include a thorough discussion on proper nutrition and managing possible stress during your pregnancy.
- A CPM midwife will be concerned for your whole being- your physical health as well as your emotional health. Women typically feel rushed when they have an appointment with their obstetric care provider. With a midwife, women usually feel more informed and have the opportunity to develop a closer relationship with their midwife.
Check out this link on home birth from the American Pregnancy Association.
Although we have a long way to go in delivering more choices in each sphere a woman chooses to labor and birth in, you have options within reach to satisfy a variety of birth desires.
We cannot emphasize this too strongly. Your individual birth experience matters.
To learn more about the differences between CNMs and CPMs, check out this post.