Where to Have Your Baby
Hospital births provide the greatest medical assistance, with staff looking after you and access to equipment should complications or unforeseen problems arise. Fortunately, many hospitals provide women with birthing rooms where you can go into labor, deliver your baby, and recover all in the same room. Check with your hospital to make sure this type of care is available. You’ll also have the option of how to deliver, whether that’s standing, sitting, squatting, or lying down. Most women still choose hospital births over other options.
Birthing centers are more affordable and have more of a comfortable feel to them. They also focus on natural childbirth, giving you access to birthing pools and a variety of birthing position options. Medical interventions are kept to a minimum. They generally do not use epidurals or labor-inducing drugs like Pitocin. Usually, birthing centers have registered nurses to help with delivery with a physician on call should something go wrong. However about 12 percent of women who start in a birthing center are moved to a hospital due to non-emergency reasons, unforeseen circumstances, like if labor has stalled and Pitocin is needed. Birthing centers should only be considered if the woman is healthy with a low-risk pregnancy and no family history of complications.
Home births is a choice rarely taken anymore. Because of the medical advances and more comfortable accommodations in hospitals, few women choose home births. However, having a home birth can be very comforting, being surrounded by people and things that are loving and familiar to you. If you are considering a home birth, you must have a low-risk pregnancy, have a doctor or certified nurse-midwife to be there for the birth, have transportation and be close to a hospital (within 30 miles with good driving conditions and limited traffic, or within 10 miles if otherwise).
Most people would define "natural childbirth" as a drug free labor. But this is a painful process, and not for everyone.
Purists will tell you that natural childbirth is the only safe way to go--that the risks involved with using medication are too great not only for the baby, but for mom as well. The opposing side will explain that, while there are risks involved with having a medicated childbirth, that there are risks with any childbirth, and that the risk is so small, why would any woman endure the pain that goes along with labor when she doesn't have to?
When women choose to have a natural childbirth, most choose some sort of preparation beforehand. There are three general types of preparation and labor techniques: The Bradley Method, The Grantly Dick-Read Method and, perhaps the most well-known, the Lamaze Method.
The Lamaze method places emphasis on breathing and making productive decisions during laboring, rather than counterproductive decisions (I.E. Screaming).
The Grantly Dick-Read Method is an attempt to remove the cycle of fear and pain from childbirth, relaxing both mother and father.
The Bradley Method teaches relaxation techniques, and uses basic self-hypnosis style birthing.
Many women make the decision to find out what happens as it happens in the delivery room - testing their own thresholds to see if they can bear the pain of labor throughout the entire delivery. Some do, most don't, but the fact remains that the choice is (usually) up to the individual woman. There is no wrong answer, only personal preference.