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Health & Pregnancy

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How Do You Want to Deliver Your Baby?

Find the childbirth option that’s right for you.

Hospital Birth continued...

In-hospital birthing center. These centers are either within a hospital or next to a hospital. They offer natural childbirth in a home-like setting. If problems occur during labor, you are just steps away from expert staff and medical equipment to help you and your baby.

Many hospitals also offer:

  • Childbirth and parenting classes and lactation consultants
  • Certified nurse-midwives on staff
  • The ability to have an unmedicated, "natural" delivery
  • Birthing pools or tubs for water births
  • Birthing stools, birthing balls, and other equipment to help you feel comfortable during labor
  • The option to wear your own clothes during labor and delivery
  • The option to have friends and family attend the birth and to videotape your delivery

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.

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