Birthing Center vs Hospital
Choosing between hospitals and birth centers may seem difficult because there is so much to consider.
Before you make any decision, think about the following topics and how you feel about them:
- Distance to hospitals or birth centers
- Pain relief availability
- Delivery staff
- Presence of NICU for emergencies
- Breastfeeding support
Giving Birth at a Hospital
A hospital birth center is a part of a hospital’s health system. In the United States, more than 98% of women choose hospitals to deliver babies. They are convenient and oftentimes safer to deliver babies if there are any complications.
Pros of Choosing a Hospital:
- You can access OBs for complicated pregnancies
- Immediate access to other methods of delivering, such as C-sections
- You can access anesthesiologists for epidurals
- You can access neonatologists for complex or high-risk newborn problems
- Health insurance covers all the expenses
Cons of Choosing a Hospital:
- Lack of mobility since pregnant women cannot walk outside the birthing rooms
- No showers in the delivery room (this varies from hospital to hospital)
- Hospital staff may not support natural birth
- There are higher risks of medical interventions such as vaginal exams, induction, episiotomy, enema, and C-section delivery
- Less privacy if you are placed in a shared room
What is a Birthing Center?
A birthing center is a stand-alone healthcare facility that is solely dedicated to childbirth. Birthing centers have home-like settings with double beds that fit your partner easily. It also comes with bathing tubs to help relieve pain. Birthing centers do not restrict the number of attendees in the room.
Pros of Choosing a Birthing Center
- More relaxed environment
- Focuses on natural birth
- Lower rates of interventions
- Less expensive compared to hospitals
- You’re not constricted to one hospital room
- Most rooms have showers and bathtubs
- Length of stay is shorter than hospitals
- They do not separate mom and healthy baby
- Abundant support for breastfeeding
Cons of Choosing a Birthing Center
- Some birth centers do not accept health insurance
- If there is an emergency, you might be rushed to the hospital mid-birth
- No access to anesthesiologists so an epidural is not an option
What is right for you?
Women who have high-risk pregnancies (higher blood pressures, being older than 35 years, carrying multiple fetuses) would especially benefit from a hospital-based birth because they will have access to all the services in case of emergencies. With NICU and doctors/surgeons within close proximity in a hospital, any medical emergencies can be addressed immediately for both mother and baby.
Women without any complications during pregnancy and who want to experience a more relaxed delivery may opt for birth centers. Women who prefer vaginal births with minimal medications often choose birth centers to deliver their babies. Birth centers usually do have a variety of healthcare professionals such as nurses, CNMs, and doulas so in an uncomplicated pregnancy all of your needs will be met.
The Bottom Line
Although both the choices have pros and cons, it depends on your pregnancy history and health. Also, some healthcare providers only perform births at a specific hospital or birth center so that’s another factor to consider when making your decision. The more you research, the better decision you will make for your delivery. Keep learning and choose the right option for you and your baby.
The decision is up to you, just know Rosebud Woman will be there for you every step of the way. We have many educational blogs and podcasts on birth and being a mother as well as prenatal and postpartum products to make the journey easier.