Most women in the United States go to a hospital and are assisted by a doctor when they give birth — but did you know there are other options in addition to that one? Let’s take a look at 5 healthcare options for giving birth to your baby – including 4 fantastic options and 1 horrible one.
If you live in the United States, this is the option you’re probably most familiar with. Most women in the USA see either an Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OB-GYN) or a Family Practitioner (FP) for prenatal care and delivery of their babies.
Outside the USA, this option is not always the norm. In many countries, it’s standard for midwives to provide care to pregnant women.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition that could affect your pregnancy, seeing a doctor may be the best option for you. It’s also a wise choice if you’re pregnant with more than one baby, or if you’ve already given birth to another baby by C-section. If you need to have a C-section, consider this your only option.
2. Hospital Birth Assisted by a Nurse Midwife
Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) are highly trained, skillful advanced practice nurses who specialize specifically in administering women’s healthcare. In the USA, a master’s degree is a requirement for becoming a CNM.
Assuming a normal and healthy pregnancy resulting in vaginal delivery, there probably isn’t a huge difference in the care you’ll receive from a CNM or an OB-GYN. However, there may be a difference in the bill you’ll receive for their services; a midwife is typically less expensive.
3. Birth Center Assisted by a Midwife
If you’re hoping for a natural childbirth experience, you might want to consider giving birth at a birth center. Most birth centersare independent facilities that are not part of any hospital. The staff might consist of CNMs, certified professional midwives (CPMs), OB-GYNs, and / or registered nurses (RNs). Typically, you’d choose a birth center as your healthcare facility if you don’t want an epidural or similar medical interventions. It’s also a good choice if you don’t want to be restricted to a bed when you give birth, or if you want to have your family with you.
4. Home Birth Assisted by a Midwife
Midwife-assisted home birth is legal in many places. If you’re in the USA, you can check here to find out more about laws in your state.
If it’s legal in your area, you can give birth at your own home, in your own bed – although you aren’t limited to giving birth in your bed. When you choose a home birth, nobody’s going to force you to stay in your bed – unlike the situation you’re likely to encounter at the hospital. You could even choose to have a water birth in your bathtub, Jacuzzi, or in a wading pool in your backyard.
Perhaps you’re wondering if it’s safe to have your baby at home. Scientific studies have demonstrated that it is just as safe as hospital birth, assuming you’re healthy, your baby is healthy, you have only one baby in your womb, your pregnancy is a low-risk one, and you’ve never had a C-section before.
Home Birth Costs
Home birth is actually far less expensive than having a hospital birth. However, your out-of-pocket costs might or might not end up being less. What you’ll actually end up paying can vary dramatically depending on your unique situation.
In the United States, the cost of a home birth attended by a midwife usually amounts to about one-third of the cost of a hospital birth attended by a doctor. Medical insurance might cover all or part of homebirth expenses in the USA; it depends on your insurer and also local and state laws in your area.
In Australia, public Medicare covers the costs of home birth for eligible women in some situations. Not everyone is eligible for a home birth in Australia. Private health insurance might also cover the costs of a home birth in some circumstances. If you’re considering a home birth, you’ll want to check with various private health insurance providers to understand the options they offer.
5. Unassisted Birth
Unassisted birth – giving birth to your baby without any professional help — is technically an option. It’s legal in many places. However, it’s far too risky to be a viable choice. Most likely, you would be far better off having an assisted birth using one of the options described above. This is because there are at least ten different reasons your baby could get stuck in the birth canal.
In cases where a baby gets stuck, a midwife may be able to pull the little one out safely. If not, s/he will transfer you to a hospital. If you’re already at the hospital or a birth center when your baby gets stuck in the birth canal, your midwife or doctor will know what to do to ensure a safe delivery. But if you don’t have an experienced professional to help, you’ll be on your own. The outcome is unlikely to be a good one.
If your baby gets stuck, brain damage is one possible result. The baby’s death is another possible outcome. Don’t risk this. It isn’t worth it.
Those are your healthcare options for giving birth – four fantastic choices and one really bad one. We hope that having an understanding of these options will empower you to make the best possible choice when you decide on the environment that’s best for your baby’s birth.