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Where Will Your Baby Be Born?
By Jennifer Dages - May 21, 2014
So you are pregnant and excitement is running high. You are feeling some morning sickness and you are trying to decide who to tell and when. But the bigger question is who are you going to see for prenatal care and WHERE are you going to have this baby? Of course you have 3 options - the conventional hospital choice with a doctor or midwife, a birth center with a midwife, or a home birth with a midwife. If this is your first baby then you have no previous experiences to go on. If  this is second or third or fourth baby (or more) then you may have something you already like or perhaps you had a horrible previous experience and all you know is that you don't want to have a baby in that setting again. Let's look at each option below.

Hospital Birth


This is the  most convenient to find as an option. Almost everyone is within 30 minutes of a hospital in the USA these days. And any obstetricians will have hospital privileges and expect you to deliver in a hospital.
  1.  If there are any complications in your birth you are close to everything that is needed to save your life and that of your birth. Although the stats are low there is a slight risk of danger in any birth, even one that seems uncomplicated.
  2. If you want  more of a birthing center experience but still want the hospital, many hospitals have a birthing suite in the hospital that can be the best of both the hospital and birthing center options.
  3. If you want an epidural (which is controversial in and of itself) then you must be in the hospital setting to have this.


  1. This is the most medical of all birthing options and will most likely mean your pregnancy will be treated more as a disease than as a normal part of life (at least in the USA).  Although it is possible to have a more natural and normal birth in the hospital, you need to make sure you have advocates in place to help insure that your wishes are complied with.
  2. Although this is obvious, you have to leave home whenever you think your birth is imminent so this can be very inconvenient for older children.  It can also mean you are at risk to have a birth in your car or on the way to the hospital.

Birth Center

A free standing birth center is a middle of the road option that can be the best of both the hospital and home birth without the cons.  There are a number of these types of center throughout the United States.  (I confess I do not know what the options are for this outside of the US).  My 3rd child was born in a free standing birth center and I must say it was a good experience in all ways.


  1.  The birth center is a home like natural setting but without having to set your own home up.  It allows you to get out to another place but one that feels more comfortable and natural.
  2.  Much prenatal care can be handled at the birth center.  With my 3rd pregnancy I experienced some GI distress at 7 months where I ended up dehydrated and unable to stop vomiting.  I was able to get IV fluids at the birth center and never had to deal with the hospital at all.  It made for a more pleasant prenantal experience overall.
  3. You will have a midwife who is more oriented to a natural pregnancy experience.


  1.   You may live in an area where this is not a realistic option.  I live in rural PA and would have to drive 1.5-2 hours for this choice.
  2.   If you specifically want an obstetrician to attend your birth you will probably not be able to use this option.
  3. 3)  If there are any complications in your birth they will not allow you use this option but will transfer you to the attending obstetrician at the cooperating hospital.

Home Birth

The home birth is the most natural and most common type of birth option as you look back over human history.  Until some point in the 1900's all births were at home with a lay midwife or often just a family member.  It is only in the past 50 years that we have seen this option be discredited and discouraged.


  1.   The baby will be born in your home with those around whom you want.  If you have older children they can be easily present (or not) at the birth without any permissions needed.  If they are not present it is easy to call those siblings or other family members in to see the baby shortly after birth.
  2.  You have the most control over the birth of any birth options.  If you don't want certain interventions like a Vitamin K shot for your newborn, or an epidural you should not have to fight for that freedom.
  3.   You do not have to take your baby outside until you are ready.  The baby is home in the place where you live.
  1.   If there is any emergency you do not have the extra medical care that may be needed easily accessible.   You will have to rely on your midwife's expertise and experience (A good question to ask when hiring a midwife) to be the first responder.  You also may want to take into account how far away from the nearest hospital you are and their expertise with newborns before deciding on a home birth.
  2.   Having a baby is a messy procedure.  You will want someone to help clean up the mess from having a baby.  You also have to plan ahead with care in your home.  Since you are home it is easy for everyone (especially your husband and little ones) to expect you to be up and running within a few hours of the birth because this is your home and the expectations of routine are very strong.
So consider your options and make your decision.   This is obviously something to discuss with your spouse and father of the baby (or if you are the  dad reading this to discuss with the mother of your baby). For further reading on the different choices I have linked some articles here  for your research.
So which of these options have you used?  What has been your experience?  We would love to hear from you in the comments below.  We would also love to have you share this post on social media:  pin, tweet, share.


  1. Gina
    I had my first home birth with my 5th 2 months ago. He was 13lbs 3oz and 24 1/4in long with no complications! Shocked, but no complications! If I can do it so can you!! :D
    1. Meagan
      Wow Gina! Go you! Thanks for sharing!
  2. Deborah
    I am a midwife who had all my 5 children in a home setting. For the last four we drove over the border to a guest house in order to legally have a midwife. My births were wonderful. I enjoyed the extra amenities of the guest house such as a hot tub and heated pool, but in the end I chose home birth with a very good midwife for safety. I have attended over 200 deliveries in the same setting. As I now have sole responsibility for the practice I am considering birth centers for VBAC's and also staging an ambulance nearby (out of view of Mom: ) for home births. I have never needed any emergency care for a birth but I can picture situations where this would provide the best possible outcome. I always try to put amenities, control etc. in perspective with this: The best place of birth is where you have the most healthy babies and mothers. At the end of the day, nothing else really matters.