A future-mama posed this question on one of my favorite pregnancy forums a while back, and I just couldn’t resist throwing in my two cents. It turned into a great (and long) conversation and sharing of ideas, so I thought I’d share my thoughts with you too.  

Question: “Birthing Centers VS At Home Birth VS Hospital….Which do you prefer?? What do you wish you would have done differently or are you happy with the way everything turned out…What will you do for your next child??”

Hospital? Birth Center? or Home Birth? 

 My Hospital Experience

There were two experiences that happened a couple of months before I became pregnant that influenced my decision to have a home birth.  The first was when a very minor accident at work that landed me in the emergency room, mostly to satisfy the human resources department.  Yes, I did work at a desk in front of a computer, so you can imagine how silly I felt!  The doctor finally came in after I waited all afternoon and ordered a (what I now consider to be completely unnecessary) MRI.  

As I lay flat on my back being wheeled down bleak corridors with lights glaring in my eyes, one thought rang loudly in my mind: this is no place for a baby to be born!  Even then, I lay vulnerable, passing by strangers while sporting a hospital gown with someone else directing my movements. I knew then that there was no way a hospital could be the stage for the most intimate moment of my life, the birth of a baby.

Paradigm Shift

About the same time, I happened to catch The Business of Being Born on Netflix, and my perspective on birth was forever changed. It awoke me to all of the issues surrounding birth in our country and made me realize that I wanted to avoid a medicalized experience if at all possible. I began to believe that the best way to do that was to stay far away from the hospital.


Making the Decision

While I was researching our options, I remember turning to DH one night and saying, the medical technology available at a birth center is basically the same as what we would have at home, so why not just have a home birth?  That was the first time I really considered what some would consider this radical option.  Poor DH was left sputtering, Don’t we need a doctor? Shouldn’t we go to a hospital? Luckily he got on board quickly after our midwife answered all his questions during our first appointments. Poor guy, I’m afraid he didn’t have much of a choice. Thank you Lord for this man who puts up with all of my crazy! 

We sat down at the interview with our midwife and she asked me why I wanted a home birth? Until that point I didn’t realize that she almost exclusively helped women birth at home; I thought a birth center might still be a possibility. When I answered her question the words just flowed, and in a way I convinced myself right then to have a home birth. In that moment I realized that was exactly what it was I wanted.

When I told people I was planning a home birth several responded, Aren’t you scared?  I could honestly answer them that I had no fear about having a home birth. I had thoroughly done my research and was confident that a home birth was a safe and healthy decision for myself and my baby.  The only fear I had was of hospitals, cascading medical interventions, IVs, and epidural needles.


How It All Tuned Out

Our home birth almost a year ago now was an amazing experience and I will definitely do it again for any future births.  I would encourage any healthy woman to seriously consider that route.  I believe that part of the reason I had such a positive experience was that being in my own home helped me stay comfortable and relaxed. After the birth I only had to walk down the hall to my own bedroom to rest and cuddle my baby. I didn’t have to pack up, get dressed, or ride in a car. Baby and I didn’t even leave the house for a couple of weeks.

Could I have had a natural birth at a hospital? Yes, I’m sure I could have, but I didn’t want to be deemed the “bad patient” fighting hospital protocol every step of the way. Now that I know how uncommunicative labor made me, it would have been entirely up to DH to fight for our birth plan and make decisions for me.  I also think a doula to support us both would have been a must. There are of course hospitals that are more inclined towards natural birth and infant care than others.  The Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative is making a big difference at encouraging good practices. Visit Baby Friendly USA to find a baby friendly hospital in your area.

More Information

Of course this isn’t a comprehensive discussion of all the considerations that go into choosing the right birth location for you. Many other authors have written on the subject. Check out my list of 9 Must Read Natural Birth Books for a few of my favorites.

What was the right location for your birth? 

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