What else do I need to take into consideration for the birth?
Once you’ve settled on how you would like to deliver your baby, the next big question may be ‘where’.
A hospital birth
For many women, a hospital is the go-to place to deliver a baby, whether there are high-risks involved in the pregnancy or not. A C-section always needs to take place in a hospital as this is the safest way to handle any complications which may arise. If you’ve had a pleasant and comfortable pregnancy, with low risks involved, you may decide on a hospital delivery too as the environment gives you access to the latest medical technology. Many hospitals around the world offer more practical and plush comforts today than the cold, more stereotypical medical room from way back when.
- A traditional hospital birth: In some hospitals, the labour and delivery rooms are separate from that of the recovery area and you may find yourself being moved from one to the other during the various stages of your labour / delivery experience. From recovery, you may be moved again to either the maternity ward or a semi-private room where you will be able to start bonding with and feeding your baby. Your baby too may not stay with you all the time in your room, only being brought in from the nursery at specific times for feedings etc. Not all hospitals are set up this way for new moms, so if you’re considering a traditional hospital delivery, it is a good idea to ensure that you are aware of the routine at the hospital you have selected.
- A family centre / private hospital: Some hospitals offer more private care whereby you can expect to go through every stage of labour, your delivery and recovery, all in one comfortable room. If you have a partner, they can also stay with you in this room for the duration of your stay, as can your new-born baby following the delivery.
- An in-hospital birthing centre: Located either within a hospital or next to one, these centres are purposefully set up for a home-like birthing experience. If any complications arise, expert staff are on hand and hospital facilities are within reach.
Other factors you will be able to consider regarding hospital births include:
- Having a certified nurse / midwife as part of your birthing team
- The option to use a birthing pool, jacuzzi or tub for a water birth
- The options to use a birthing stool or birthing ball during the stages of labour and delivery
A hospital will try and honour as many of your wishes for your birthing experience as possible. Ultimately, safety comes first and if a medical team feel that surgical interventions, whether you initially wanted them or not, are absolutely necessary for both your and your baby’s safety, they will do what needs to be done.
Birth centre (standalone)
A certified nurse / midwife can help to deliver your baby in a standalone birth centre. These facilities are usually affiliated with local hospitals and you can easily be transferred to medical assistance, should a problem or complication occur.
A standalone centre is different in that these facilities typically offer childbirth and parenting classes, as well as lactation support. Many are covered in health insurance plans in some countries. If you are considering this option, it is a good idea to check in with your health insurance provider to make 100% certain.
If your pregnancy is high-risk, this will not be considered an option for you. Low-risk and overall healthy women are able to make use of standalone birth centres as the place they first welcome their little bundle of joy.
If a natural birth with little medical intervention is important to you and your pregnancy is considered normal and healthy, these centres provide a very comfortable, home-like experience. Most will be equipped with a handheld ultrasound to monitor the baby, oxygen, local anaesthesia, a supply of IV (intravenous) fluids, as well as resuscitators and warmers for the new-born baby. Pain management and the option of having an epidural are generally not part of this package. Birthing centres are generally for women wanting the most natural experience possible.
You will be set up as per your wishes in a private room and even be able to wear your own clothes. Most facilities treat this experience as a home-away-from-home. Loved ones can be present as well, as per your choice.
If delivering in water appeals to you, many centres can also accommodate your wishes with a tub or jacuzzi, which you may use to relax during the stages of labour and give birth in as well.
Every centre will have their own set of policies for birthing procedures. If this option appeals to you or you’re curious during the decision-making stages, ensure that you attend a centre orientation to be well informed about what you can expect. Find out about as much as you can regarding what’s on offer and what the plan-B scenarios (should your birth not go as planned) will entail. Should there be a need, it is good to know in detail, what back-up measures (from minor complications to an emergency situation) are in place to ensure the safest delivery for you and your baby.
Check that the centre is licensed and has appropriate accreditation before you settle on this option. It is also a good idea to enquire about the credentials of those practicing there and whether gynaecologists and doctors are in attendance or on call, as on call staff will take some time to arrive at the facility if issues arise and this is not always ideal in emergency situations.
If you are a mom-to-be that desires as much control over your own birthing process as possible, a home birth may be the best option for you. As with any other environment, giving birth in the home has both benefits and risks to carefully take into consideration. The biggest risk with a home birth is the death of an infant, which can be 2 to 3 times higher than in a medically controlled environment. Overall, if a woman and her baby are in the best condition possible and there are no complications, risk is incredibly low and a woman can successfully deliver a healthy little one at home.
Giving birth for the first time in a home environment is not always recommended by medical professionals as complication risks can be higher. If you have given birth before and have had a very healthy and normal pregnancy, a home birth may be a lot more comfortable.
For any woman with high-risk factors, such as an existing health condition such as diabetes or hypertension, a home birth is not an option. Multiple births, such as delivering a set of twins or perhaps if you’re attempting a VBAC, is also out of the question for a home birth. The higher the risk of complications associated with delivery, the more strongly your doctor is going to recommend a more medically kitted out environment for the birth of your baby.