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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127 Comments

  • 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. 🙂

  • 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.

  • I had PLANNED on giving birth to my first/only child (daughter) in the hospital bc i have such a low tolerance for pain i was praying for epidural when i found out i was pregnant. I also figured thats the best bet because god forbid something happened at least all necessary tools were right at doctors hands. my daughter had other plans. she made my first child birth VERY easy, and my best girlfriend is highly jealous (so plz dont think i am bragging, because it was such an awkward situation all the same time). labor/contractions started happening, but my doctor told me to wait until they hit close to 10min apart before I headed to the hospital (i live no more then 5min away even if i hit every light). little did any of us know, my contractions went from 45min, to a half hour, to 3min like that. by the time i was walking out the door to get into my parents car, she was trying to make her grand entrance. dad had to call EMTs just so that we can make sure my daughter was coming in safely and they were in my living room so fast they were able to cut the cord after my parents delivered their first grandchild. next time wont be so easy, but i was still hoping/praying for the epidural the entire time because even though i was home i was so uncomfortable, even with my friend/family around thats what made it all the more awkward. Im very conservative, so to have everybody at least in my house when im practically exposed was nerve wrecking…for me anyways. My daughter was happy and as healthy as one can be for being born next to the AC and than going out into 109*weather (included humidity). I thank God shes healthy to this day, 2.5years later.

  • Home, home, home, all the way. Here's my theory. You know that thing when you go on vacation, and you can't poop? No matter what you eat or drink, no matter how lovely and homey and private your hotel room is, you just can't poop (unless you've gone in the complete opposite direction and picked up traveller's diarrhea…that's a whole different thing). Then, as soon as you turn into your neighbourhood, your body suddenly sits up and says "hey, I know this place! Let's POOP!" This is how I feel about birth.

    It's well-documented at this point that medical interventions happen because women in hospitals feel too out of their element. They're not relaxed or comfortable enough to let go and let things happen. I'm Canadian (if you couldn't tell from my spelling), and our c-section rate is generally around 25-30%. Estimates are that less than 10% of births are actually required to be a c-section. The others end up happening as part of the "cascade of interventions" (seriously, Google it).

    And as for emergencies…they happen a lot less frequently than TV will lead you to believe. Most births are normal. Normal birth is boring. It's a lot of waiting around and moaning. Not very exciting for Grey's (or ER if you're really old school). And if a problem really does happen? If you're in an urban or suburban environment, as the majority of people are, chances are you're less than 20 minutes from a hospital. Even if you're already IN the hospital, it's going to take them a good 20-30 minutes to get an operating room ready, and for you and the operating team to be prepped to go. Whether you're there, or you're on your way there, the time is the same.

    So why not opt for a staycation?

  • I think a hospital might be safer because what if something goes wrong with your delivery? If they have to like emergency c-section you, wouldn't you rather be prepared for any possible thing? What if your baby needs surgery immediately or something, seems like there are so many things that could go wrong..

  • I'm not pregnant yet and don't really plan to be for another couple of years but I've done a lot of research on this topic becasue my cousin wanted to have birth center births for her two kids. At first I thought she was nuts so I just had to find out what the heck she saw in all of this. I've come around to the idea of an all natural birth. The thought of home birth still freaks me out a little bit but I suspect that after I have some idea of what to expect from birth itself I'll be a lot more comfortable with it. But for my first child I plan on a birthing center birth because I just can't stand the thought of planning to go to a hospital where, for all I know, someone is dying two floors up from where I'm bringing my baby into the world. Not to mention all of the terrible antibiotic resistant bacteria that live in hospitals. I want to be with people I know and who know me. And I want to be able to labor in a position that's comfortable for me, instead of every time I try to get out of bed to just stand, there's some nurse pushing me back in bed as happened to my mother with both me and my sister.

    That being said, I think it's up to every individual and every family to come up with a birthing method and a place to give birth that works for them. And babies tend to be the most unpredictable things in the world and they come out the way THEY want. Being prepared to change your birth plan accordingly is a must. I know that I'll hate having to go to a hospital but I won't hesitate if I need medical intervention.

    Good luck making your choices ladies!

  • We have 3 wonderful children. With our first the Dr. broke my water at 6 days overdue and I had a very uneventful/drug free labor and delivery. Because the birth of our first went so well we decided to go with a midwife homebirth with our second. He came 11 days late in a terrible rain storm. My midwife lived an hour away and I progressed so quickly that I had the urge to push well before she got there. My husband was talking to her on the phone trying to "guide" her to our house, we live in a rural area and she got lost. At one point he was flipping the porch lights on and off to help her see our house. She finally got to our house but lucky for her the baby was posterior and it took some long intense pushing for him to be born. He was really bruised and his head was really messed up from such a hard delivery but other than that he was healthy and wonderful.
    Then I got pregnant with our third and since we had a relatively "good" homebirth experience we decided to go that route again. When I went into labor it was really slow at first so I called my mid-wife to let her know what was happening. Once I went into active labor it happened so fast that my midwife wasn't there yet… again. By the time the midwife came I was already in the pushing phase but holding off pushing until she was able to get there. Once she was there she let me push for about 20 minutes and nothing was happening so she checked me and got the "concerned look" that you don't want your midwife or doctor to give you. She says, "I am not sure what I am feeling – I can't tell if this is the baby’s head or bottom". I think to myself "what in the world, no way did this baby turn since the last midwife appointment". She told me to hold off pushing for another 15 to 20 minutes in order for her to assess what to do next. She checked me again and said that she was pretty sure it was the head but not positive so she said for me to push – I did for about 45 minutes when I told her that this didn't feel right and that I was okay with going to the hospital if that is what she felt was best. So, after a few more checks and concerned looks she says lets load up and go to the hospital. My husband drove like a crazy man because I was about done with breathing through the contractions, so far it had been about 2 1/2 hours since I started the pushing phase and my contractions were every 90 seconds. For any woman who has had a baby and has had to, breath through a contraction, knows that is about the worst thing you can tell a pregnant, laboring mother. We finally get to the hospital, my sister who is the director or education at that hospital had already called and had everyone ready for my arrival. I get rushed into the Labor and Delivery and the ER doctor wanted to see what was going on so he checked me and said, "yep that’s a butt". At this point I am still in denial that the baby turned so once the OB Dr. came in and he checked me and said the same thing I am thinking okay – here comes the C-section. The Dr. decided to check again and said, "No, I am certain that is not a butt because she just bit me". She was posterior facial presentation, babies can't be born naturally in that presentation so the doctor took about 15 to 20 minutes to try and turn her so she was anterior facial presentation. After he tried and tried she went into distress and I was rushed off to have a C-section. They ran me into the OR and knocked me out in about 30 seconds, my husband didn't even make it into the room. She was born not breathing and very purple; they finally got her breathing but had to work with her for about 45 minutes to get her oxygen up to where to should be. Once I got out of recovery I was wheeled down to see the first glimpse of my baby. A very weird moment to get wheeled into a room and the first sight of my baby is her in my husband’s arms in the rocking chair, kind of strange that I was there but not really "there" for her birth since I was knocked out cold. After about an hour I was holding her, still a little groggy from the medication and I look down and she is purple and I thought "Oh my goodness I just killed my baby". My 3 sisters were there and I handed her to one of them who practically threw her at my sister that is a nurse. She rushed her out of the room and they got her breathing again. By this point I am a wreck, I am not an emotional person but I am balling. They finally bring her back in and she was fine. After getting home I did some research and a baby born after that kind of presentation it is very common for them to stop breathing at least once. Even though the home delivery didn’t work out she was fine and everything was wonderful. This kind of presentation is 1 in 800 and it had nothing to do with having a homebirth. I feel most births are normal and can be done at home in a safe and healthy way, I am a defender of a drug free homebirth.

  • Ps. Katie on May 8th – read the book I referenced in my post above. The Dr has tons of references listed in the back to scientific studies that have been done on mortality rates on homebirth vs. hospital/c section. For every homebirth horror story, there's 4 more about the hospital – do the research, from actual medical studies, not just a blog.

  • After a brush-off at the regular OB office with my first, I did my own research and switched to midwives in a birth center. I never looked back. I did a waterbirth at the center, and it was awesome. Yeah, I was in pain. Yeah, I was in labor start to finish for 25 hours. But I trusted my body to do what it was made to do – give birth.
    Women have been made to doubt their innate abilities by Western medicine who treat pregnancy like a disease, not a natural process. Yes, I'm glad it's there when it needs to be – when we're sick. But I choose to trust my body and my instincts. This baby will be a waterbirth in a birth center, as well. I prefer myself and my baby being calm, alert and together to bond right after birth.
    I encourage all women to read "Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering" by Sarah J Buckley, MD. She's a Western trained physician who had all 4 of her babies at home. She gives you the facts with the research behind it – the best of both worlds.

  • My daughter was born in water at home three weeks ago! I initially was all gung-ho for a planned c-section (was seriously concerned about pain and the "ick" of birth), but the more reading I did, the more HB felt like the right option. I'm glad we did prepare for a homebirth, because our daughter ended up being in a real rush to come out – she showed up fifteen minutes after the midwife did, and I practically had to cross my legs to hold her in that long! My only "regret" is that I didn't get to spend time in the birth tub before she was born – I wanted to see what the hype was about!

    I have a medical background and firmly believe that medical advances have done a huge amount of good, but I am so glad that we made the choice we did for our totally normal, low-risk pregnancy. If I ever get a full night's sleep again and the maternal hormone amnesia kicks in long enough to convince me that #2 would be a good idea, we'll go the same route again!

  • I just have to say that I chose to birth at home, mainly for comfort, and was really pleased with my experience. For those concerned about clean-up, my midwives had a great system that resulted in about two stray drops of blood, which they scrubbed out of the carpet for me and started my laundry before they left. As for proximity to medical care, midwives are also equipped to deal with many common complications, and the main reason women end up going to the hospital is "failure to progress", which isn't an emergency. I'm glad we have so many options, and I do try to encourage women to consider home birthing as an option because it offers some great benefits to families with low-risk pregnancies.

    My favorite things about it: the atmosphere was so warm and peaceful, we had lots of good conversation b/w contractions and preparing for baby's arrival. And having an awesome, inspiring midwife who coached me through the hard parts and stitched me up like an expert afterward. Also, they were so gentle with my baby, and tucked us into bed before they left. I felt so cared for!

  • For being a pregnancy/birthing expert you really need to watch The Buisiness of Being Born, also Easy Labor by William Camann and Kathryn Alexander (The only book I ever found to be non-biased from one side to the other)

    P.S. I LOVE your site, you are hilarious.

  • I just want to add that at home, you don't have to clean up, either!! I had two wonderful midwives come visit me for my last one and they had everything washed, sparkling, and cozy. Plus they brought me food. It was the best.

    Also, I have to completely agree that having a billion people at a hospital is not a plus for me, it's a major drawback!! I get all weird about having people around when I'm laboring and with my first, my labor stalled out for over 9 hours after the midwives arrived at my house–and I was very familiar with her!
    🙂

    My biggest thing about the home/hospital birth is this: The hospital is more concerned with managing their business than they are with helping everyone through the process in the best possible manner, and it shows in their numbers. After that, it's totally an issue of preference.

  • I had a very scary emergency c-section with my first, that now I find out might have been unnecessary. Planning on a home birth with my second. If I could guarantee that my doctor would do everything they could that I would have a vaginal delivery, then I would have a midwife at the hospital. But I just know that when you're in labor, scared, and in pain- you will do whatever that Doc says- regardless of whether or not a csection is totally necessary.

  • It's interesting how some people view statistics: "I had one (or four, or six) home births and they went great, so clearly it's safe!" Well, let's say one percent of babies die in home births (not true, just for argument) — that's unacceptable, right? But you, personally, would have to have 100 babies at home to experience the downside. Does your two (or seven) healthy home birth babies make it safe? Hell no! Which is worse, having an unwanted IV or fetal monitoring or snotty nurse or c-section, or having a dead baby?
    Here's the opposite of the "my home birth went great so you should totally do it!" argument: http://hurtbyhomebirth.blogspot.com/

  • I've had three great home births. I think I'll have one more baby…at home (assuming all goes normally). I have total confidence in my midwife, her training, and preparation. I've been fortunate to have the same midwife for all of the births, so the start of each new pregnancy is a fun "Hey Charlotte! Good to see you again!" kinda reunion : )
    I love being in my own home, having my few chosen loved ones with me, having a glorious pool for laboring in (no water birth yet, but it definitely takes the edge off the contractions), and getting to revel in the miracle of birth/babies/life without all of the extra hassle.
    But, I'm glad that hospitals and birth centers are there for when we need them. I just don't think that we need them as much as people seem to think. And we don't need epidurals– we just need to know what to expect from birth & know how to deal with the intensity of it. I'm glad that I've gotten to experience it.

  • I did midwife at a birth center after hearing birth horror stories from our local hospital. Wonderful experience. I never thought I would go natural, but when it came down to it, not having an unnecessary c-section and being able to breastfeed were top priorities for me, and I felt the epidural might endanger both those goals. I loved being the only woman birthing at the center, how there were not a ton of people around, how I knew everyone there, and how there was no rushing around ever, only calm. I also got to hold my baby until we left (only a 4-hour stay was required) so no being taken away for baths, shots, tests, etc. All that could wait. Our birth center was 5 minutes away from a hospital, so I felt very safe if something did go wrong and we needed to transfer.

  • we went the home birth route and loved it. When we got pregnant I watched The Business of Being Born which helped me make an informed disiccion. One of the best things about going the midwife/homebirth route was there were fewer hands in my vagina. I Hate being checked (who likes someones forearm up there anyway?…wait, don't answer that) Midwives typically don't pressure you into anything and respect your choices. I told mine I didn't like to be checked and she didn't check me until I was overdue.

    I personally believe hospitals are for sick people and there's nothing wrong with me…I'm having a baby.

  • I've read and studied a bit about US births inside and outside hospitals. I've had one of each. My homebirth was a thousand times (and I do not exaggerate) better, safer, cleaner, less painful, etc etc. That's just me. (and lots of ladies I know). If you ever want to read a detailed long birth story let me know and I'll send it your way (no pictures).

    I'm just reading here, browsing… I like it so far! 🙂

  • We have had 3 wonderful homebirths, with all 3 boys coming out in the birthing tub. My wife's a rock star having 9lb, 9 1/2lb, and 8 lb babies!

  • I'm not yet pregnant, but my husband and I have recently started trying. I've always thought I would prefer a water birth, and after watching a movie called "The Business of Being Born," I lean pretty heavily in the direction of non-hospital births. Granted, this movie is pretty one-sided in favour of home birth, but it has some pretty interesting points to make regarding medical interventions during delivery. I suggest anyone who's looking to get more informed check it out.

    Aurelia: I live in AB as well, and your post made me suddenly wish I lived in BC. "Birthing suites" sound so luxurious. 😀

  • Hospital birth here and great experience. Was induced at 39 weeks. 17 hours of labor. Got an epidural 3 hours before baby was born. Contractions were not that unbearable. Great OB that followed my both plan to a tee. Baby born after 40 minutes of pushing. Lights were dimmed. He was on my chest for around 45 minutes before they did any you're of check up on him (I had insulin dependant Gestational Diabetes). Amazing birth and wouldn't change a thing!

  • I have had the experience of a hospital birth and home birth as well. All I can say is…HOME BIRTH!!! Nothing like hanging out in a hot tub eating a Taco Bell burrito @ 9 cm!!

  • Hi Everyone, I have had 6 homebirths, My first one when i was just 16 and a half.

    my latest in the year 2009.
    My babies were from 7lb up to 7lb 13 and a half.

    I am strongly for home births, not only do you feel more relaxed in your own enviroment you get to walk and move freely around.

    You have your own midwives and can stay in control.

    You also can have whoever you want there and its great if you already have children.
    I had no pain relief throughout any of my births, You can have gas and air if you choose.

    I have just written my own book called millennimum A decade of pregnancy and home births which is available to buy on Amazon. And in Kindle edition)

    It has all my own tips, experiences and photos throughout my book. As well as fullof facts.
    And tells of all my home births with a letter from my midwife.

    There is also chapters on healthy eating, the young mum, how not to have a frumpy pregnancy ect ect
    It is very different to other books as mine is written from one mum to another, and is easy to understand not full of long words that we dont understand.

    Its for parents to make there own choices of how they would like to do things as i believe everyone should get choices and do what they feel is best.

    You may have seen me in the media i have been in numerous magazines and newspapers.

    Whether you look at my book and purchase it or even if you dont.

    Good luck to everyone and i wish you all the luck and happiness with your new bundle of joy

    Charlene x

  • I didn't read the previous replies to this, but you should definitely read Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth. My sister had a home birth years ago, and I thought she was nuts. Then, when I became pregnant, she let me borrow some books to read about pregnancy and labor. The book I mentioned was with them, and it opened my mind to all the possibilities that we lose with all the medical interventions that can happen in hospitals. I gave birth in a hospital (no home births allowed in GA) with a midwife, a doula, and a natural labor. I ended up needed a c-section, and I am 100% sure that I did EVERYTHING I could to have my baby naturally first. I wasn't forced to by a doctor. I am happy with how things turned out. The thought of being able to give birth at home without countless people disrupting the first few days with a new baby is amazing. Read the book- it's full of fabulous short birth stories. If anything, they will empower you for whatever you choose.

  • For my first two I had regular hospital births and an epidural for both. For my third, I used a freestanding birthing center (The Coastal Family Birth Retreat in NH). It was an awesome experience for us. The midwives did all the cleaning (including washing my clothes, they brought them for my first checkup), I got to use a real shower, there was no one else there (besides the people we invited) to disturb us, my kids got to play in the living room away from my room. Plus I had already brought my 'hospital' bags & food during my 37 week appointment, so it wasn't a big hassle heading there (great since my labor started at 11PM). They still do regular NB screening/shots/ointment (with permission), were able to administer an IV with antibiotics (for Strep B) and they had oxygen and other rescue equipment on hand. Also, the checkup visits for both me and the baby on the 1st and 3rd days after birth were at my house, which was really nice.

    The downsides were that we had to leave about 4 hours after I gave birth (since I was already up and walking just fine) but I wouldn't have minded a nap first, and it could be a little scary for a first time parent to take home a baby that young (but we were fine).

  • I have had three children and am pregnant with my fourth. I had an Ob/GYN with my first and had pre-eclampsia so I really would have had not choice but hospital and it was fine. My second baby was born in a freestanding birth center with midwives and I LOVED it and after that decided never to go back to an OB/GYN. (Was a normal, low risk, pregnancy). With my third we were in a different state and we went with a nurse midwife in a small hospital. It was a good experience, but I really just don't like hospitals. They really want to push their own agendas and it drove me batty how often the nurses wanted to check my nether regions in the stinking middle of the night. Also, as an experienced mom at that point, some of the nurses treated me like I was an idiot. I slept all night the first night and one of them was mad that I hadn't woken up the baby to feed her. I was like, "are you kidding me?" Why would I rob myself of sleep?

    With this next one we are seeing the same midwives I saw with number 2 and it will be a birth center or home birth. I like the control I can have at home or in the birth center. No iv's or ice chips for me!

  • I had 4 planned c-sections [for various medical reasons] delivering my 5 babies all in hospital & I couldn't be more content or more proud with my birthing experiences. I don't feel cheated or any less because of how my babies came into the world. They arrived safely. Everyone around me, [except my obstetrician who cared for me throughout all 4 pregnancies] I met on the day and couldn't have been more comforting, helpful, reassuring or nicer.
    Comfortable surroundings, music, water, solid relationships with people in the room did not rate high on my priority list. I wanted resources available to my babies & me at our greatest time of need.
    One of my babies had a complex congenital heart condition & required life saving intervention within the hour of being born. I had two low birth weight babies who also needed special care.
    I would never consider putting my babies at any sort of risk no matter how minimal that risk might be. My grandmother 'in the olden days' had 14 pregnancies resulting in 10 live births. We've come along way since then & have resources available to help our babies & us at this special time. Why would we slam the use of them? I choose to believe that the primary concern of the medical institution is to help us. To save lives. To ensure our babies are delivered safely into this world.
    If women choose to do this naturally, all the power to them and I don't doubt for a second they have a beautiful experience IF its a low risk situation. So home birth ladies, I applaud you. I do. You are lucky. I know you worked hard & probably without pain relief. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
    For me though, I would worry too much that sometimes you can't tell if its going to be high risk down the track, for either you or your baby.
    Bottom line for me was my comfort level was secondary to having every resource available for my babies entry to the world, should they require it. And they did.

    Lastly, I worry about the negativity towards hospital births and the impact on some mothers who have a high risk situation and end up having a c-section, 'crushing their preconceived ideas about going all natural'. They often feel cheated. I think that is so unfair. They are no less a mother because of that situation. Obviously the most beautiful natural thing would be if we ALL had low risk situations and could deliver at home. Some of us can't and the way our babies come into the world, the hospitals and the medical staff, shouldn't be put down because we didn't achieve the 'perceived' optimum.
    Damn it, we carried those babies, we were cut open and our babies came into the world alive! You do whatever you can to save your baby right? I reckon that should be applauded. I get so mad hearing that women feel cheated. In my eyes, I want to shake them and remind them just how wonderful they are!

    I am pro delivering babies the safest way possible – whatever way that may be for the individual situation. And pro world peace… LOL

  • I had a hospital birth for my first because I wanted the machine that went ping and I wasn't sure how my asthma would be during the birth. It was uncomplicated and awesome so we're opting for home birth for my second pregnancy. We're lining up people to come and bring food and clean the house and watch my son for the first few days after since the being waited on after the birth was my favorite part of a hospital birth. I love my midwife and BONUS its going to be more affordable than a hospital birth, even if our insurance doesn't cover our midwife it will be cheaper than our deductible for the hospital.

  • We had a hospital birth turned homebirth. I liked the idea of giving birth at home, but decided to go with the hospital because the "machine that goes ping", but wanted to avoid going in for as long as possible. My contractions were very irregular (like 5 minutes then 8 then 2 then 6 then 3). We talked to the midwife and my Bradley Method teacher on the phone multiple times each and they both thought I was constipated. Turned out I wasn't and my husband caught the baby then we got to take a nice trip to not-the-hospital-we-wanted in an ambulance then get treated like crap because I'm guessing they saw us as "high-risk". It turned out that my labor was like that because she was "sunny side up". I don't think anyone could have figured that out over the phone, but a homebirth midwife would have come to our house sooner than that to check up on me and someone would have been there to help us with the birth. That along with the treatment at the hospital made me decide that next time around it's homebirth for sure.

  • I had my first child in a hospital and the whole experience was really good.
    It was so fast that I still can't believe I saw my son's face for the first time just 4 hours after I arrived to the hospital. I gave birth with no drugs and that makes me feel even prouder. The nurses were really nice to me and with all the other new moms that day.

    I'm now five months pregnant with my second child and I'm definitely going to give birth at a hospital if everything goes according to the main plan, lol.

    But I do respect the women that decide to have their babies at home. It is their choice.

    Good Luck!

  • What a great and balanced post – thank you for sharing your opinions and thoughts about birth locations so honestly. Personally, I have had two homebirths. Like another commenter mentioned, I also believe the machine that goes "ping" (electronic fetal monitoring) is more likely to be a disadvantage than an advantage. Not only has it been shown not to improve fetal outcomes, the maternal restriction of movement means that (logically, I haven't seen studies on this) a labor is likely to be longer and more difficult/painful. The risk of unnecessary and potentially harmful medical interventions is the biggest reason I would not condition giving birth in a hospital after a normal and healthy pregnancy. While complications can and do happen, most natural complications (as in, ones that were not CAUSED by medical interventions) have warning signs and give plenty of time to transfer to a hospital. Because hospitals are of course wonderful, and can be life-saving, when you truly need them!

    I loved giving birth at home. Being comfortable and in my own space was nice, but also more than that. Feeling at ease and not being surrounded by strangers (ie, a lack of fear) certainly means an easier labor as well, in my opinion.

    Olivia

  • I have 5 children – All normal pregnancies, no real problems – 4 of them were born in hospitals at various locations in the United States and the 5th was born at home. I had so many bad experiences in hospitals – hateful nurses, not having any control, being confined to a bed due to constant fetal monitoring (not neccessary I might add as all of my labor and deliveries were low risk and normal), epidurals that left my back permanately damaged etc etc. When I became pregnant with my 5th child I couldn't bear the thought of another hospital birth and after MUCH research decided on a home water birth (there is a birthing center here but they are "C-section happy" and will transport you to the hospital at the first sign of discomfort – they also do not allow water births.)

    I found a midwife and also utilized the services of the OB who delievered my 4th child – I made sure that everything was fine with the baby and took good care of myself (all the while reading anything I could get my hands on regarding homebirths and watching every homebirth video the internet had to offer). I purchased my birthing kit and anything I felt I might need or that might make me and my birthing team more comfortable. Now a few things to keep in mind, I am a COMPLETE chicken when it comes to pain – I hate it and will avoid it at all costs, also I was 1000 miles away from friends and family, my husband was deployed overseas and I was taking care of our 4 children (ages 16 to 3) bymyself. To prepare for the upcoming birth, I cooked tons of meals and froze them, I made sure there was back up food and drinks in case I were to go into labor and was unable to get to a store to get milk for the 3 year old (powdered milk is a wonderful thing lol). I had emergency information written down, a hospital bag packed "just in case", a full tank of gas and an emergency plan and clean sheets on the bed, covered by plastic sheeting, covered by another set of sheets for easy clean up. My neighbors were all aware of my intentions for a home birth and were willing to help with anything if needed. My mother (a registered nurse) made plans to come the week before my due date (as I am known to go into labor at least a week early). The homebirth midwife came to my home for my last few appointments and it was a very comfortable environment – we chatted sometimes for an hour and a half AFTER my "appointment". She became my friend and not just a person I saw once a week for 5 minutes of KY, crunchy paper and probing.

    On the night of September 10th my water broke while at one of my afore mentioned neighbor's house so my mother, my friend and I walked across the driveway back to my house, waited until I had 2 contractions, called the midwife and told her to take a nap that I thought it would be a while. We found a Tyler Perry play on TV, watched it and laughed like hyenas – when a contraction would hit I would pause the movie wait for it to pass and go right back to laughing. When the contractions were 5 minutes apart (about an hour after my first call to the midwife) I called the midwife again and told her she should probably head out. By the time she got to my house I was in full blown labor (and dealing with it better than I had ever thought I could as I had NEVER had a completely natural, drug free birth). My mother had the birth pool filled and waiting and everything was set up in anticipation of the birth.

    I waited until I was in transition (which went by beautifully) and then got into the birth pool, which felt AMAZING! I labored there for about 15 minutes and my son was born healthy and naturally. Not one time during my entire labor did I have to endure a check of my cervix, the fetal monitoring was done almost without my being aware of it. There was no time during my labor that I doubted the competance of my birth team or myself – I KNEW I could do this. I learned things about myself, my body and the miracle of birth that I never knew before! It was an experience I wouldnt have traded for the world – if I had it to do over I would have delievered all of my children at home. Yes I am aware of the safety concerns and took them all into considerations, weighing both the pros and the cons (there are statistically more fetal deaths in hospital deliveries than homebirth deliveries and things can go wrong anywhere) – one needs to educate oneself on any method of childbirth as it is certainly a personal choice (except in cases of emergencies) and not one to be taken lightly or disrespected by others. Is homebirth for everyone? No. But it was definately the birth experience I had been looking for and longing for and I am SO happy I could do it – I would love to become a certified doula and maybe one day become a homebirth midwife myself. The midwife I used was probably one of the most amazing women I have ever known – gentle, caring, respectful, just all around amazing!

    And the best part was that I was in the comfort of my own home, surrounded by those I loved and felt comfortable with, I could walk around, squat, laugh (there was a LOT of laughter during my labor and delivery), I could cuss (if the pain was too intense lol), I could drink what I wanted, I could eat (which I didn't), I could pee in my own potty and not live under the threat of the waterhose sized cathaders they love to offer in hospitals, I could watch movies, talk on the phone, get on facebook etc. I was in MY element and *I* was in charge. Afterwards I wasnt subjected to lactation consultants that wanted to fondle my breasts, no nasty saltless hospital food, all of my children could be with me etc etc. I was in heaven. Sorry if I have been a bit long winded, I am still in awe of just how amazing this birth was – I would have another baby, at home of course, in a heartbeat if we didnt already have a housefull lol.

  • Up front I will say: I have not yet given birth (not till June).

    That said, my mom had such a terrible time with my birth that I just will not consider a home birth. So many things can go wrong so quickly. No one wants to need a doctor/surgeon/NICU, but when/if you do, I'd rather they be in the same building and not a drive away.

    I think the choice is incredibly personal and you should do what seems right for your body/baby/situation, but I think the most important thing is being willing to change the plan if it's necessary. A small part of me thinks that home births are just mind-bogglingly irresponsible. (I want it to be clear that if you made this choice and it worked out well, I'm so happy for you, I just get the shakes thinking about what could've gone wrong.) I'm not advocating the "flat on your back all the meds you can pump in" approach, but I think a medical setting of some sort is a good idea.

    But like I said, I haven't done it yet, so my opinion is probably not worth as much as an experienced mom's. 🙂

  • My first one was a hospital birth, and I am SO thankful that he was. Without any indications it was going to happen, he came out very sick and had to be rushed to the NICU. If we were at home, he wouldn't have made it.

    My 2nd was also a hospital birth, thankfully no complications.

    My 3rd will be a hospital birth as well.

  • I had a horrible experience in a hospital giving birth to my daughter. The main problem was that I was on a tiny island where there was literally only one option, hospital birth. To add insult to injury, even when you got to the hospital any birth plan you had went out the window. They were going to do it there way no matter what. I mean, NO MATTER WHAT! I didn't have a clue who my practitioners were since I wasn't even allowed to get prenatal care at that hospital (care was provided at a medical clinic.) When I went into labor, they found I was severely preecclampic, but they continued with a monitored/medicated vaginal delivery. When she FINALLY came out, I went from preeclampsia to ecclampsia (seizures.) Fortunately, my daughter and I are in great health, but I would never what to repeat that experience again. I am pregnant again (and back in the good 'ol United States) and am seeking care through a birthing center. I am so excited for the experience of continually dealing with the women that will be delivering my baby. I have full confidence that if things were to turn south, either at the prenatal visits or at the delivery itself, that they would take care of us. The calm, homelike environment is so appealing to me, as well as knowing I will be listened to during every step of my pregnancy. To me, piece of mind is the deciding factor when it comes to my pregnancy and labor. After my first experience I don't think I would ever have that in a hospital setting. I fully support whatever the parents decide will make them the most comfortable and safe, be it hospital, birthing center, or home!

  • So far…

    Hospital with doctor
    Hospital with midwife
    Birth center with doctor
    Birth center with midwife
    Home birth with midwife

    I thought a midwife would be great, but couldn't get in with one. I even tried when I suspected I was pregnant, and still no dice 🙁

    It depends on your area what is really available. In BC, there is one hospital with birthing suites! In AB, no such luck.

    Personal choice – whatever YOU will feel the most comfortable doing is what you should do! 😀

  • My birth was nearly identical to Crystal's third, except it was in a Birth Center with an OB (yes, a "big bad OB"). No meds, intermittent monitoring, no IV, and my OB sitting at the foot of the bed the entire time I was pushing.

    I fully support home birth, but it is not my choice. I am more comfortable with a birth center birth (not freestanding though), and happen to live in an area that has a great one, as well as a wonderful number of naturally minded OB's and midwives in the local area.

    Not sure how I would feel if my only choice were a hospital.

  • I’m a professional photographer for a living and I specialize in photographing newborn babies but about once a month I also photograph a birth. So I have observed every type of birth hospital, birth center, and home birth. And now having witnessed hospital birth many times I would never ever choose it for myself. It’s brutal. I think it’s interesting that two of the things you listed as pros for hospital birth “The machine that goes 'ping'” and “Safety in numbers” are actually two of the things that I would consider the biggest draw backs to hospital birth. Continuous fetal monitoring (i.e. the machine they strap you to) has been shown by numerous studies to NOT improve fetal outcomes. In fact it is directly related to higher rates of intervention and a higher C-section rate. The machine was actually never approved for routine use by the FDA it just got grandfathered in. The belts are constantly slipping out of place and it severely restricts your movement. As far as the ever-rotating staff in the hospital and the constant interruptions and pelvic exams – I just don’t see how anyone could see that as a benefit. I would much prefer to know everyone who is going to be at my birth beforehand and have a good solid relationship with them. That’s why my son was born in an out-of-hospital birth center and my daughter was born at home. I honestly think our granddaughters will look back at birth in this time in history and shake their heads in disgust., the same way we fell pity for the women who had twilight sleep births. If you look at the statistics and studies birth center and home birth are as safe as hospital birth for low risk pregnancies. Midwives are trained medical professionals and can deal with emergencies the same as a dr. In fact statistically you are more likely to get into an auto accident on the drive to the hospital than something really go “off the rails” at home.

  • I had a pitocin-assisted/ medicated, 33 hour long labor, hospital birth with my first. I had an intervention/med-free 10 hour labor hospital birth with my second. By far the second was better for me AND my baby! The next one I am really hoping for an intervention/med-free HOME birth! But that won't be until 2013.

  • I thought I was going to have something to add but it turns out there are a TON of women who think the way I do and who have had the same-ish things happen during their labour and deliveries. I had planned a home birth but as it turns out my little monkey was in upside down and backwards so off to the hospital we went. I had a great experience there even though I had to have a cesarean. My husband and I both really relaxed once we got there. It's so funny too because I was convinced I'd be happier at home but maybe the ping machine did it for me. Next time we'll have a midwife again and just plan to go to the hospital. Plus the whole VBAC thing freaks me out a bit too much to be at home. It's great to have all these awesome options!

  • I had wanted a birthing center or a home birth delievery, but my husband didn't feel comfortable with it at home. There was not a birthing center in operation so we used a midwife at a hospital. Unfortunatly after 16 hour after my water broke I developed a fever and my son's heart rate went from 120 bpm to over 180. I had to have an emergancy c-section. I'm glad we were at a hospital, but I always wonder "what if". I hope our future children can be vbac with a midwife, but we'll see.

  • I have experienced both births.
    I have four wonderful creatures, also known as kids/children/urchins. With the birth and pregnancy of my first one, I was extremely young. I went to the same doctor for all of my visits, who told me that I should probably think about a diet for the pregnancy and after. At the tender age 16 I gave birth to my first son. At a hospital. With every drug under the sun available to me in me. Without the doctor that was there for most of my pregnancy. Everything went as well to be expected. I tore and required stitches. Other than that, it was fine. Fast forward 6 months, and I was pregnant again. Glorious. I was in a different state and so I was able to go do a different doctor, otherwise I probably would have gone to that same woman that made me feel miserable about myself. I carefully picked out a doctor’s office that had multiple doctors. There were 6 there. I was sure that I would have a familiar face deliver my new little one. I met everybody there a couple of times. When the time came, I delivered without any drugs, didn't tear, and had a brand new baby. A stranger "caught" my baby. I had no clue as to who this person was. I move again, get married to my wonderful husband and have another baby. I decided that I didn't want to have a doctor at all this time, but was still uneasy about giving birth at home. So, I opted for a midwife. When the time for delivery came, it was amusing to me. There was an intern that asked to stand by to watch. I had no problems with that, and a man in a white coat stood in the corner of my hospital room. My midwife was sitting on the bed next to me, helping me through the contractions that were slamming my body. He (intern) asked her (midwife) about an IV that I didn't have. Or pain medication that I didn't have. I started pushing and the water then broke, a little bit leaked out. Soon she was crowning and then she was out. Along with a GUSH of amniotic fluids. There was my midwife, sitting at the end of the bed covered in the tidal wave of water, waiting for me to push out the placenta and the poor intern still standing in the corner with his face as white as his coat.
    We decided that three children were enough and opted not to have any more children. Three years later, I miss another period and discover that I am pregnant yet again. Rhythm method with an extra beat. 🙂 I opted for a midwife again. (Suffering from wanderlust, we had moved yet again). I called my old midwife and asked if she could suggest anyone that where I was. I met with the group of three women and they were amazing and wonderful. The baby in my tummy just never wanted to come out. She was 12 days overdue and I was going to be forced to give birth to her in a hospital if I didn't go into labor. After about three days of walking miles upon miles to help her settle down further, there was nothing. The midwives broke my water, and then I got to walk some more. Rather than walking the cold halls of a hospital with the too clean smell, I was wandering up and down the hall with carpeting, familiar pictures, warm air, and “normal” smells around me. Our bed was covered with a plastic sheet, just in case. The contractions were the roughest that I had ever experienced, so I got into the bathtub and immersed myself. When I felt that it was time to get the baby out, I got out of the bathtub and felt the weight of a thousand elephants on me. I remember that I didn’t want the water drained, because it felt so amazing to be in there, but I didn’t want to give birth in the tub. I never got to get back in that night, but the delivery of the newest one went smooth. And the three of us, the baby, her father, and I slept in the very bed that I gave birth on some hours earlier. I think that if I were to have another child, I would go with a water birth. Maybe.

  • I think the choice of home vs hospital is very personal. If you are comfortable then you are going to have a better experience. No one should be scared into either. Both should be "normal". I have a great and wonderful natural birth hospital and fantastic midwives and it is much more comfortable to be there for me. But if I were in a different place, or a different type of person I would be much more comfortable at home.

    I often wonder how I would feel if I had had a home birth that had the same outcome as my first hospital birth had. My baby was born not breathing. It took a few passes of oxygen to get him to breath. I know that home birth midwives can and do the exact same thing. However, because of the terrible time he had getting out he was being constantly monitored and I know exactly how long he didn't have any oxygen. If it had been a home birth I wouldn't have known. I wonder if I would have a little panic and guilt attack every time he seemed extra uncoordinated or the like. It isn't anywhere near enough for me to think that home birth is not an option (though I am done having kids so this is totally moot). It depends on circumstances at the time.

  • One good thing about a hospital birth is that they are prepared for unexpected occurrences and can respond quickly. I know there are some times when they seem to cause the problems. But in my last delivery (in Sept) every thing was just perfect for an induction with an epidural and my 9lb 10 oz son was born with no difficulty, but my placenta was abnormally attached, something there was no way to know beforehand. When it came out, I started to hemorrhage, but because I was in a hospital they got me down to surgery quickly and were able to stop the bleeding so that I "only" lost about half my blood volume. I think the idea of a home birth sounds nice, but after my latest experience I don't think I could ever do it.

  • Well for myself I'm not giving birth in a hospital, it's going to be in a birthing center, so I don't have to really worry about all the sick people around, unless my husband or myeself is sick. I have never had the thought of a home birth cross my mind. My mom had 11 kids, number 7 she decided to try a home birth with. My brother's shoulders were so broad that he disloated one because he got stuck and he tore my mom real bad. After that she didn't ever want a home birth! She was able to have natural drug free births for the majority of them. So I guess I worry about big babies because of me being big myself so I will never have a home birth!

  • I had a horrible hospital birth that nearly killed me and caused my son to be in NICU for a week. I had wanted a HB but hubby wasn't comfortable with it and such so I complied with a hospital one. I am glad he got to see why I didn't want one and when we decided to have another one we went with a HB. It was the most wonderful thing we ever did. we did it all our own way. Once we had our secobd son i looked at my hubby and said let's do this again soon. =) we have had 4 of our 5 kids at home with daddy catching 2 of them. I became a HB doula and will go on to be a HB midwife when our children get a little older.

  • I have a hospital horror story that just fills me with glee every time I think about it – a 56 hour failed induction with a doctor who turned the Pitocin up so high that the nurses were furious, hours of 15 minute long, off the chart contractions with no epidural….and a c-section for all my trouble. Baby number 2 was oh-so-comfy and had no intention of coming out on her own before the "now we're getting risky since you've had a previous c-section" time, so I had another stupid c-section. If I had it to do over, I'd try a midwife and maybe a homebirth (the 1st time). I'd love to experience that feeling of accomplishment from giving birth naturally. I do feel kind of cheated, since, looking back, I think the induction was more for my doctor's convenience than medical necessity, which makes me wish I'd listened to my crunchy granola birth class teachers about medical interventions. I have two gorgeous, perfect babes though, so I count my blessings and try not to dwell on it.

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