Hospital or Birthing Center? Choosing the Best Place to Deliver your Baby

 

There are so many things to think about and research after finding out you’re pregnant. Some things that probably never even crossed your mind, like choosing a car seat out of the 2 billion options that are out there, things that you should or definitely should not eat while pregnant, and choosing where to deliver your baby. For me, it always seemed like a no-brainer, I would deliver my first baby at the local hospital and assumed I would do the same with any other pregnancies I would have in the future.

In my first delivery, I was fairly happy with my hospital experience overall and loved my doctor and most of my nurses.  I had a textbook labor, epidural, pushing for 20 minutes or so, meeting and loving on my baby, etc. There were a few little things that bothered me with my hospital stay: I wasn’t able to drink any water once I got into the delivery room (which I did five minutes before going into the room and was perfectly fine), I also didn’t love being hooked up to an IV and machines during and after labor, and I felt like I had kind of had to ask permission when it came to having my baby in my room as opposed to the nursery. I know that every hospital has different rules and procedures, and the things that I didn’t like about my hospital may not have happened in a different one.

When I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter, I planned on delivering her in a hospital as well. This time around, my doctors were a group of midwives that I loved so much and I strongly trusted their suggestions. About halfway through my pregnancy, one of my midwives asked me if I would be interested in delivering at their new birthing center. My initial thought was “yeah right, that’s way too granola for me”, but the more I thought about it and researched, I started to like the idea more and more.

The freedom and control in delivering in a birthing center were very appealing to me. The only concern I had was what if something went wrong and I needed to get to a hospital. I didn’t want to put my baby or myself in danger, but conveniently for me the hospital was right across the street from my birthing center. With the comfort being near the hospital, and the fact that I had a healthy pregnancy, I made the decision to try the birthing center. I absolutely loved my experience with delivering in there and I would go with the same route if I get pregnant in the future, but I  wouldn’t say that it’s the perfect choice for everyone.

There are a lot of things to consider when picking the place to deliver your baby…

1) Choose what you feel is safest for you and your baby:

If you’ve had a complicated pregnancy or are wanting to use pain medication of any kind, I would highly recommend going with a hospital birth. Don’t think that if you go with a hospital birth that you won’t have any say in how your labor goes, write a birth plan, but always know that the baby really will only come out on his/her terms whether you have a birth plan or not.

2) Do you want a more intimate setting to deliver your baby?

If you are definitely committed to a labor without any pain medication and want a more personal place to bring your baby into the world, then you should research your local birthing center options. Hospitals can definitely be an intimidating place and if you’re like me, having a home birth is even more intimidating, so a birthing center may be a good middle ground. With my birthing center, I was able to go home just a few hours after having my baby. I was really happy to be home for our first night together and not be woken up extra by machines and strange noises. Although I think a lot of my comfort had to do with being a second-time mom, I probably would’ve been a lot more hesitant to take a few-hours-old baby home if it were my first time.

3) The rise of home births

Home births seem to be making a bit of a comeback now. I obviously can’t speak from experience on this one, but I know some women who have chosen a home birth and couldn’t imagine delivering any other way. If you’re home is your safe place and you’ve talked with your doctors about it, then a homebirth might be a good option for you. Some doctors and midwives will bring all the equipment right to you so you don’t have anything to worry about.

Whichever way you choose to bring your baby into the world, just do what makes you feel safe and relaxed. If you’re relaxed and comfortable, then your baby will be too. Labor is hard, and it’s important to be in a place that helps you even if it’s just the littlest bit. With so many decisions to think about it is important to remember that no matter if you have your baby in bathtub, hospital room or in an Uber on the way to deliver, you will be a great mom to a beautiful baby!

Owning My Labor

One thing that Beth and I both think is very important in pregnancy is making it your own. Whether you’re a marathoner who proudly takes your bump on 5 mile runs every day or you’re stuck on bed-rest your entire pregnancy, embrace it and do what you feel is best for you and your baby. This goes for labor as well. I am a strong advocate for a woman’s freedom to choose her own delivery. Nine times out of ten it won’t go the way we plan it anyway. Know that you are strong and wonderful and, in the end, you get one of the greatest gifts.

My First Labor

I was in my early twenties when I got pregnant with my first daughter. My husband and I had only been married a little over a year when we found out we were having her. Needless to say, neither of us knew much about pregnancy or labor.

While I was pregnant I did not feel that I had a high pain tolerance, and the fear of delivering a baby put me in a state of worry throughout my pregnancy. I halfheartedly told myself that I would go as long as I could naturally, but really I knew I wouldn’t be able to go very long without an epidural. When I went into labor, the hospital kept sending me home because I wasn’t dilating fast enough. The snarky nurse kept saying,  “Oh. Very much the same. Very much the same,” every time she checked me. Hours later and still having the “Very Much the Same” ringing in my head, I began to feel the urge to push.  We went back to the hospital, and I was fully dilated! After 18 long hours of laboring at home, the first thing to come out of my mouth was “am I too late for an epidural?” I received my anticipated epidural and shortly after, we happily welcomed our Leni into the world. I received beautiful memories about my first delivery, but I often caught myself thinking, “I wonder if I could’ve done it.”

My Second Labor

Jump to a few years later to my second pregnancy. I was a few years older and had already gone through it all once, so (as many second time moms think) I was totally a pro. Only every pregnancy is different and this was no exception. Despite the differences, I definitely felt much more confident this time. I did a lot more research on my own and had a group of doctors who listened to me and encouraged me to listen to my body.

Through the years after Leni was born, I had a shift in how I thought about birth and decided to use a birthing center, which gave me no choice but to be confident in a natural labor. There was no turning back. This time around I felt myself more excited about the challenge than afraid of the experience. When labor began, I calmly laid in bed timing contractions. The quiet was nice in those first few hours. It was like the baby and I had a special secret; we were the only ones who knew what was to come. I went to my doctor later that morning, and they suggested that I walk, walk some more, and finish with walking; so walk we did! I was checked into the birthing center and thirty minutes later we said hello to our Rosie.

I’m so glad that I have two different laboring experiences. The greater significance, however, is that these birthing stories gave me two wonderful daughters; that’s what I value the most. I hope you feel encouraged to listen to yourself and say, “I can do this.” No matter what labor looks like for you, you get your baby in the end.