You will make a series of important decisions during your pregnancy, but none greater than choosing where and how you’ll welcome your child into the world. Sure, family members, friends and even strangers will want to share their childbirth stories and opinions with you, but remember that every childbirth experience is different. Here’s a brief guide to educate you on typical locations to deliver, as well as common childbirth options:
Where To Deliver Your Baby
Hospital: A hospital, the most common place to deliver a child in the United States, will provide you with standardized care led by an OBGYN and/or a midwife. You will deliver your baby and then be placed in the hands of a team of caregivers for, on average, a period of one to five days, depending on your childbirth experience and insurance coverage.
Birthing Center: Led by a midwife, your labor and delivery experience at a birthing center will include more personalized care, including coaching both during and after childbirth. The use of interventions and anesthesia are not commonplace, and most birthing centers cannot provide for emergency care, so it is vital that you have a back-up hospital notified, in case a transfer is necessary.
Home: The least common of all three locations, but rising in popularity, is within the home. Similar to a birthing center, your labor and delivery will be led by a midwife, who will provide you with specific, personalized care. Delivering at home appeals to expectant mothers who seek a comfortable labor and delivery experience, in addition to a natural transition for baby from womb to world. Again, it is essential to have a back-up hospital notified, for neither medication nor emergency care can be given within the home.
How To Deliver Your Baby
Natural Birth: Free of all pain medication, a natural, vaginal birth is achievable with the support of a physician, labor coach and/or partner. You will power through the discomfort by focusing on deep breathing, visualization and body positioning learned during prenatal childbirth classes, thus making you an active participant in your labor and delivery experience.
Medicated Birth: Given during labor, an epidural is regional anesthesia injected into the lower back to provide pain relief from contractions and delivery. While many expectant moms plan for a natural birth, some laboring moms will ultimately decide that anesthesia is necessary. You will have the option to change your mind up to a certain point in your labor; so don’t feel bound to what is documented in your birth plan.
Water Birth: For a planned water birth within a hospital or birthing center to be approved, expectant moms must meet specific medical criteria. Once approved and when the times comes, you’ll labor in a large tub of warm water to help reduce contraction pain. When the urge to push begins, you will remain in the water allowing your baby to experience a gentle, calm transition as he or she enters the world. A physician and/or a mid-wife will be present to aid in the process, especially after childbirth to ensure that your baby is healthy.
Cesarean Section: Although sometimes planned, most C-sections are recommended as a solution to an emergency situation where either mother and/or child(ren) are in distress. A C-section is a surgical procedure used to deliver your baby through a primary incision in your lower abdomen and a secondary incision in your uterus. If no complications arise for either you or your baby, you can expect to stay in the hospital for at least three days post surgery. You’ll feel discomfort at the incision site for many days and/or weeks following your C-section, so try to avoid heavy lifting and bending.
To make the best childbirth decision for you and your child, you must be informed. Keep this information with you as you interview caregivers, visit potential locations for delivery, and create your birth plan. As always, remember to consult with your healthcare provider before making any final decisions!