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How Do You Want to Deliver Your Baby?

Find the childbirth option that’s right for you.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Hospital Birth

Take advantage of hospital tours. This can help you get a better feel for the hospital environment. Take into account the accommodations and practices of each possibility and what will make you feel most at ease.

  • Even with a private room, you can expect more hustle and bustle as hospital staff come by to check in on you and your baby.
  • Compare the C-section and episiotomy rates at the hospitals you are considering.
  • Consider a teaching hospital. Academic hospitals are more likely to have OBs on staff around the clock, so there may be less pressure to have medical procedures if your labor is progressing slowly.
  • While hospitals will try to honor your wishes, ultimately your safety and your baby's safety come first. This means that your doctor may strongly recommend medical or surgical interventions -- even those you didn't wish to have -- if he or she feels they are needed.
  • You have to follow hospital rules and policies. For example, often you can only drink clear fluids if your provider is concerned you may need a C-section. Hospitals may also limit the number of people who can attend your delivery.

Standalone Birth Centers

Birth centers have become more popular in recent years. Typically, a certified nurse-midwife will deliver your baby. Birth centers are affiliated with a local hospital where you can be transferred if a problem occurs during childbirth.

Like hospitals, birthing centers offer childbirth and parenting classes and lactation support, and most centers are covered by insurance. Only healthy women with normal pregnancies should give birth at standalone birth centers.

  • Birth centers offer natural childbirth with little medical intervention where your needs and desires come first.
  • Birth centers provide a comfortable, home-like environment with private rooms where you can eat and drink what you want and wear your own clothes.
  • Your family and friends can come with you and attend your delivery.
  • Many birth centers have Jacuzzis or tubs where you can relax during labor or have a water birth.
  • Birth centers only offer minimal medical support, such as handheld Doppler ultrasound to monitor your baby, IV fluids, oxygen, local anesthesia, infant resuscitators, and infant warmers.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Birth Center

Be sure to attend the birth center orientation so you can talk with the staff and learn about the center's policies.

  • Ask about the center's rate of hospital transfers.
  • Ask what circumstances would require you to be taken to the hospital.
  • Find out who is the back-up OB or doctor for the center.
  • Ask what the emergency backup plan is, what hospital the center is affiliated with, and how long it takes to get there.
  • Keep in mind that birth centers do not provide anesthesia. This means that you will not have the option to have an epidural or other type of pain management at the birth center.
  • Make sure the birth center you are considering is licensed by the state (if licensing is an option in your sate) and accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers.
  • Ask about the staff's credentials to make sure they are certified and licensed to practice in the state.

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