Hospital vs. Home Birth

Someone wrote me about home births and I’m at a loss. Both my kids were born in a hospital and I didn’t even entertain the thought of not having a hospital birth with only a doctor. I was raised to believe that women give birth flat on their backs, in the safety of a hospital with a doctor that knows everything.

But the question of home births got me to thinking about what the benefits and drawbacks would be to a hospital vs. home birth and here’s what I came up with:

Hospital:

  • No clean up. Even though I’m sure the midwife would clean up there’s just not that same hose-it-down-or -burn-it-I-don’t-give-a-crap mentality you have when you’re not at home.
  • The machine that goes ‘ping’ is within arms reach. This was the biggy for me because I was always terrified that something might go really off the rails and I wanted to be as close as possible to the machine that went ‘ping’.
  • Fewer nay sayers. Generally people expect you to give birth this way so you aren’t going to catch a lot of flak for it.
  • You’re not home. If you already have other kids you can pretend to be delirious and they might bring you crappy food that you didn’t even have to make while they try to figure out what’s wrong with you.
  • Safety in numbers. A billion people come in and ‘check on you’ so you’re bound to have at least one competent person catch something that doesn’t seem right. In my experience, most nurses are super human and can tell you how much your baby will weigh before they get in the room so that tends to instil confidence.
  • The epidurals and all glorious drugs are there.
  • It seems less scary because you’re in a hospital where people do this every day.

Home Birth:

  • You’re home. It’s your stuff. You know where everything is and if you want to walk down the hall naked so you can stand in the shower, you can. You can give birth to thrash metal and burning White Castle burger candles if you want to and nobody can say boo.
  • Clean(er). It’s unlikely that your home is a festering hole of all things contagious like a hospital is. It wasn’t until I was leaving the hospital with my perfect, little baby and some man started hacking up a lung in the elevator that it dawned on me – Hospitals are where sick people go! I don’t care how many masked they have or how much they bleach the crap out of everything, hospitals are gross.
  • You know your midwife. You will be dealing with somebody that had been with you throughout your pregnancy so they know what you’re like and you know what they are like. I lucked out and got my actual doctor for both my deliveries but that’s not always the case.
  • You’re the only one giving birth in your house. There were 12 other women giving birth the night I had my second son and my doctor was the only one on the floor at one point. I’m guessing it’s harder to have things fall through the cracks.
  • It seems less scary because you’re not in a hospital where horrible things happen. I watch Grey’s Anatomy!!

Really when I started thinking about it, I’m a big home birth fan. Everything about it sounds better yet I had two hospital births because drugs and that damn machine that goes ping were there and that trumped everything else. I think if I did it again I would have a midwife and give birth in a hospital but that’s really easy for me to say because my fake baby, Flick, was pretty easy to deliver and I’m not having any more.

Please help me out here. What are you going to do? I know there are horror stories on both sides but it would be nice to know what you guys think the positives are to both routes.

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53 Comments

  • I need help!
    I’m overwhelmed and confused on the process of picking an OBGYN and/or hospital. I moved to a rural area and I only have two choices of hospitals and they’re each 30 minutes away in opposite directions. I’ve read that OB’s only have hospital admittance privileges at one hospital so basically choosing your OBGYN is choosing your hospital. I’m looking to get pregnant in the next few months and need to find an OBGYN for my annual and to discuss pre-pregnancy things. One hospital has tons of photos of their offices, birthing suites, amenities, etc. The other doesn’t have a single photo and barely lists any amenities. So, I feel like I need to see the hospitals where I could be giving birth before choosing the OBGYN since the OBGYN is tied to the hospital. I feel like the hospital would think I’m crazy to tour a hospital pre-pregnancy. Am I the only one who has been in this situation? I’m so confused and overwhelmed.

  • If I had a friend considering a home birth I would very strongly advocate for them to have a hospital one. I had a beautiful, boring, textbook pregnancy and would have been a perfect candidate for a home birth. I ended up with HELLP syndrome – hemorrhaging and losing two litres of blood, with my blood presssure through the floor and my kidneys and liver shutting down, spending three days in ICU. Not to mention the baby being ‘stuck’ on the way out with one foot still above his shoulders, and the cord around his neck. As my husband says – if we’d opted for a home birth, both my baby and I would have unquestionably been dead on our living room floor.
    Please, please – if you’re able, have your baby in a hospital. Do what you like to create the experience you’re after, but please do it where all the advantages of modern medicine can catch you if need be.

  • [email protected] says:

    I’ve had two home births (my first two) and two hospital births and all without pain medication. I prefer the home birth option, but I appreciate that not everyone feels that way and that’s okay! Birth is hard, and bringing a child into the world is pretty amazing.
    Also my hospital births were BY FAR my messiest births so even though the clean up at home was barely noticeable, I was super glad that the biggest messes happened at the hospital. πŸ™‚

  • [email protected] says:

    I had a hospital birth and a home birth. Home birth was by far the easier and nicer birth experience. There was next to no mess for us to deal with. Literally, we had 1 garbage bag to throw out and 1 load of laundry. Which was mostly wet towels from being in the tub. It was a far more relaxed and calm environment which helped with the no drug situation. I never felt rushed or forgotten since my midwives were there just for me and were within speaking distance if needed. It was far more personal and far more intimate having 2 midwives, my mom and my husband the only people with me in our apartment. There was no shift change or dozens of staff checking on me. I highly recommend home birth over hospital birth but, that’s just how I feel. I loved my home birth.

  • I had my first son at a birthing center (which is like a home birth at someone else’s house, which is also nicer, gets cleaned before and after you and has a bigger tub). My second will be born in another. Despite my delivery being in the tricky side (breech, irregular pattern contractions, killer back pain), I decided to do the home birth again. There is no comparison between the level of attention and care you get from a midwife or midwives and a standard OBGYN. And you usually get better lactation consultation, home visit or visits after delivery and spending that first night in your own bed is the best. On the downside, depending on your state’s laws, they might not be able to deliver breeches, twins and such, they often come out of pocket (and good luck with the insurance company later), and some can to be very hippy, which s fine, but not my style.
    The bottom line, in my opinion, is this – do what feels right and don’t apologize to anyone. The experience should be about you feeling comfortable and safe, not what other people think. If you want to give birth at home, good for you, and if you want a scheduled c-section – that’s your choice. To each her own.

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