Pregnant women have a multitude of options available to them when it comes to deciding where to deliver their babies. Deciding which option works best for you and your family is important and should be discussed with your healthcare provider as part of the birth plan. Making an educated decision about the labor and delivery process will make the birth of your baby more enjoyable.
The majority of pregnant women choose to deliver their babies at their local hospital. Nurses, doctors and other trained staff will monitor the mother’s progress as labor continues by checking for dilation, watching blood pressure levels and evaluating the fetal heart rate. Anesthesiologists are on staff to administer pain relief when requested, including epidurals. In the event of a complication, hospitals have the ability to handle even the most extreme circumstances. Most women will go home within 2-4 days of giving birth.
For some women, the thought of going into labor in such a clinical environment is not relaxing. Women who deliver at home are assisted by nurses or nurse midwives and generally involve their families, including older children, in the birthing process. The laboring mother stays in her home, where she is most comfortable, and the attendant comes to her. For safety reasons, women who are experiencing high-risk pregnancies or a pregnancy with complications are not candidates for home births. While laboring at home is more comfortable for some women, it is important to note that no immediate medical care is available in the event of an unexpected complication.
A water birth is a traditional birth that takes place within water--either at home or in the hospital. A large bathtub or birthing pool is set up to accommodate the laboring mother, which allows for natural pain relief as contractions progress throughout the labor process. Water births can be monitored by doctors or midwives.
A birthing center serves laboring women and provides a more home-like setting than a hospital, discouraging the use of medical interventions, such as induction, anesthesia and fetal monitoring. Birthing centers may stand alone or they may be part of a hospital. Nurses and midwives are in attendance and mother/baby can go home within a few hours of the birth. Birthing centers generally allow the mother to guide her labor and delivery, encouraging music, natural pain relief methods, family support and freedom of movement throughout labor. If a complication develops, an obstetrician is generally affiliated with the birthing center. Birthing centers are recommended for women who are experiencing low-risk pregnancies. However, medical equipment is available for both mother and baby in the event of any complications.
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