With every checked box closer to your due date, there are some important questions that you should ask before the big day rolls around. Nurseries and baby names aside, it is essential to figure out what kind of delivery will be best for you and your child. Do you want to be in the comfort of your own home, or would you prefer to be tucked away in a neat hospital bed? What sort of services do you want on-hand after you deliver?
Today, there are many different baby delivery services offered for mothers. Here are the three main options:
Hospital Birth – In a traditional hospital birth, the mother moves from room to room for labor, delivery, and recovery. The baby stays in the hospital nursery but is brought to you for feedings and visits. Many hospitals now offer private rooms for more family-centered care. Mothers can go through labor, deliver, and recover all in the same room. Another adult is often allowed to stay overnight, and the newborn stays with the mother once it is delivered. In-hospital birthing centers have a variety of other services available to new mothers including: childbirth and parenting classes, lactation consultants, and equipment (birthing stools, birthing balls, etc.) for a comfortable labor. Some hospitals also have birthing tubs or pools for water births.
Birth Center – Stand-alone birth centers offer mothers a natural childbirth in a home-like setting, yet they are often affiliated with local hospitals where a mother could be transferred in the event of an emergency. A nurse-midwife delivers the baby in a private room where you can eat what you want; wear your own clothes; and allow friends and family to be present during the delivery. Many birthing centers also have jacuzzis or tubs for relaxing or even water births. Birthing centers are very hands-off and only offer minimal medical support. (Note: no anesthesia!) A lot of these stand-alone centers also offer classes and consultations, like a hospital.
Home Birth – Although home births are by far the least popular method, the number of women who have opted for this mode of delivery has noticeably increased in the past 10 years. Home births are performed by a midwife, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends to find one that is certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Home births should only be considered if you have a healthy, normal pregnancy. (And, ideally, it is not your firstborn.)
Other important factors to consider include proximity to local hospitals; insurance coverage; and whether or not you have a high-risk pregnancy. Only you know what will be the safest and healthiest option for the arrival of your baby!