Another benefit of having a natural birth is having the ability to birth anywhere you want. Your birth setting can have a major impact on your natural birth experience and even your birth outcome.
Currently, most births still do take place within a hospital setting but I believe that that’s due to the misconception that hospitals are the safest place for all women to give birth. The fact is that they are not always safe for all women and pregnancies.
Hospital births can be over-medicalized, women are often not supported, and interventions are performed way too often. If you are healthy and are having a low-risk pregnancy, the hospital is not your only option. Below is a breakdown of the top three birth location types and how they can impact your natural birth experience.
Giving Birth in a Hospital
Although it is very much possible to have a natural birth in a hospital setting (I’ve had 2!), it is often more challenging to do so than in other birth locations such as birth centers or your own home. But trust me — it’s not impossible!
The downside is that birthing rooms in hospitals are generally, cold, clinical, and filled with machines, which are not conducive to a positive natural birth experience. Your hospital might have a birthing suite that you can use that is more like birthing at a birthing center, in which case this is a definite win.
But research shows that women who have planned hospital births are at a higher risk of experiencing medical interventions, medical assistance, and negative health outcomes than women who have planned homebirths. The current evidence also shows that women who give birth at home often experience higher satisfaction with the childbirth experience than women who give birth in a hospital.
The advantage for many mamas, myself included, is the level of comfort you have knowing that the interventions are a split-second away in case you need them.
Giving Birth at a Birth Center
If you don’t want to give birth at home and you also want to avoid having a hospital birth, you may want to look into giving birth in a birth center. The atmosphere of a birthing suite in a birth center often mimics that of a home.
So you can still have a warm, private, and comfortable atmosphere, which is one of the things that helps women cope with the pain of labor naturally. Birth centers may also help increase your chances of having a “successful” natural birth, in that they are more familiar with natural pain relief options such as acupressure and hydrotherapy.
Also, giving birth in a birth center can be (but isn’t always) cheaper than giving birth in a hospital where you would be more likely to experience a longer stay. Having a homebirth, especially when you’ve never had one before, can be a little intimidating.
So, a birth center may be the perfect alternative to a hospital birth and a great alternative to a homebirth.
Having a Homebirth
Contrary to public perception, your own home is one of the safest places to have a baby.
If you are healthy and your pregnancy is low-risk, and you’re planning on having a natural birth, it is not necessary or even preferable to give birth in a hospital. It is generally easier to endure and enjoy the process of laboring at home because you are in familiar surroundings and can labor without constant interruption.
In a home birth, you have more comfort, privacy, and access you need to things you may want or need to help you cope with labor.
Research shows that women who have planned hospital births are at a higher risk of experiencing medical interventions, medical assistance, and negative health outcomes than women who have planned homebirths. The current evidence also shows that women who give birth at home often experience higher satisfaction with the childbirth experience than women who give birth in a hospital. Research also shows that the health outcomes of babies are no different compared with planning a hospital birth.
Of course, there are other factors to consider when planning for a home birth, such as the distance of the home in relation to the hospital in case there is a need for an emergency transfer, but this is something that you can discuss and plan with the guidance of your midwife or OBGYN.
At the end of the day, what matters most is you feeling safe and comfortable with your choice of birth location.
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