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Pregnancy: Deciding Where to Deliver

Pregnancy: Deciding Where to Deliver

Topic Overview

Your choices of where to deliver your baby include a hospital, a birthing center, or your home. The location you choose may affect, or be affected by, your choice of doctor or midwife or health insurance plan.

Hospitals

Most medical doctors (MDs) deliver only at hospitals. Some hospitals also allow registered nurses with advanced training (certified nurse-midwives) to deliver there under a doctor's supervision. Many hospitals offer special birthing rooms that are comfortable and homey, with large beds, wooden furniture such as rocking chairs, and pictures on the walls.

Hospital policies vary with respect to who can be present during the birth besides the partner or labor coach. But most hospitals allow the woman to have visitors during her labor. The hospital may reduce the number of visitors at the delivery to avoid overcrowding and risk of infection.

You can request a tour of the hospitals near you to see what options they offer. The advantage of a hospital birth is the availability of experienced staff and equipment if problems or complications develop. Also, a hospital offers a wide range of options for pain relief.

Birthing centers

Birthing centers are usually staffed by certified nurse-midwives who have the option of calling in a doctor or sending you or your baby to a nearby hospital if problems or complications develop. Birthing centers are less formal and less institutional than hospitals. You may be allowed to have several people, including other children and family members, present at the birth.

Birthing centers are not recommended if you have a high-risk pregnancy . Emergency medical equipment and options for pain relief are limited. Delivering in a birthing center is usually less expensive than delivering in a hospital, although it may not be covered by insurance.

Home

Some certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) will deliver in a home setting, as will certified professional midwives (CPMs) and lay midwives .

The major disadvantage of a home birth is the risk of an emergency situation, which will require that you or your baby be taken in an ambulance to a hospital. The time it takes to get you or the baby to hospital care may be critical.

The advantage of a home birth is that you may feel more comfortable staying in familiar surroundings during labor and delivery. And you can have whomever you want in the room with you.

A home birth is the least expensive option, although it may not be covered by insurance. A home birth is not recommended if you have a high-risk pregnancy.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised July 23, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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