February 16, 2024

Home, Hospital or Birth Center? What's right for me?


In today's modern world we're offered choices for nearly every decision we make. Something as simple as grabbing a coffee, forces us to make several small decisions. Latte or Espresso? Whole milk, almond, or oat? Hot or iced? Small or Large? Sugar free or loaded with the tasty stuff? We rattle off our choice and we take a sip without thinking about all those decisions we just made.

If we're lucky enough to have choices surrounding our morning coffee, how much luckier are we to have choices surrounding our birth? Centuries ago, our ancestors would birth where they could out of necessity, not choice. Today, we're given options. And while birth is surrendering to the process, wherever that leads, one of the most important decisions on your birth plan is WHERE you choose to birth.

We've all read stories of moms birthing in the Chic-Fil-A bathroom, or on an airplane. I'm willing to bet the top of their birth plan didn't have "Boeing 757" listed as the birth location of choice. A birth plan is just a plan. I remind all my clients that we're not in control, baby is. And baby always knows the best place and way to be born (even if that's different than our ideal birth plan.) BUT creating a plan and doing your best to stick to it has proven to foster a more positive and empowered birth experience. So, create your plan, mama, but be willing to let baby lead if they need to.

Start by asking:

What locations are available and reasonable for me?

What hospitals are close to me?

Is there even a birth center in my state?

Do midwives do home births where I live?

How much does a midwife cost?

What does my insurance cover?

Do they have openings for my estimated due date?

then ask:

What location will get me as close to my ideal birth as possible?

How do you envision your birth? Is it calm and quiet with very few people? Is it a C-section? Is it an induction? Is it medicated or unmedicated? Is it a physiological normal birth with very little interventions? If a hospital is your only option and you want a low intervention birth, start by researching local hospital c-section rates. If you want a low intervention, unmedicated birth and homebirth is an option, begin researching and interviewing midwives. If you want an epidural, you'll need to find a hospital in your area with a provider you trust.

finally, ask:

Where will I feel the safest, most empowered, and most comfortable?

Birth is a beautiful dance of hormones. Birthing in a location (and/or with a provider) you don't feel safe with, will cause these hormones to work against you. Having a provider that you trust and feel safe with encourages labor to unfold.

For some women that means birthing at home with a trusted community midwife.

For some women that means in the hospital with an operating room down the hall.

For some women, that means in a birth center.

The truth is, mama, only YOU know what's best for you and your baby. Trust your instincts. God gave you those for a reason. And just because you birthed at home, or in the hospital for a prior baby does not mean you have to follow that for your next baby. Every pregnancy and birth are different, and our needs change from baby to baby. Hire a doula and birth wherever your happy heart desires. Well, except for 35,000 feet in the air.