It can be easy to get lost in the shuffle when deciding where to give birth to your baby. Much like just about everything else when it comes to having kids, everyone has an opinion. While it’s true that research and fact finding are an essential part of making this choice, ultimately, I hope you can quiet the outside noise and honor your own instincts because it’s your choice.

Birth centers may seem like a happy medium between home and hospital, providing that at-home feeling with midwives and doulas on deck. Unfortunately, however, we don’t have many options for birth centers in the Cape Fear area. With that being said, some are willing to travel to have this experience, while others prefer to labor at home or to bring their “home” with them to the hospital room through means of photographs, pillows/blankets, LED candles, diffusers, and even their very own labor playlist complete with Bluetooth speakers.

At some point, moms and dads everywhere have to make the choice. Here are some insights that might help you to decide.

Review the Research

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Evidence Based Birth hosts a phenomenal wealth of knowledge that is backed by actual studies.

Depending on what studies you look at, infant mortality rates can appear much higher for home births than hospital births – but then you learn those studies included unassisted deliveries without a licensed midwife. On the flip side, other studies show that overall, there are fewer complications, dramatically less interventions and better, overall mother and baby outcomes for home births attended by licensed, certified midwives.

Make sure you’re reading valid, clinical research studies from the past five years or less and avoid opinion-based blogs or random sites. Be prepared to find that reading studies is not as helpful as you hoped, since they generally provide some surprising information you didn’t anticipate learning or applying to your individual experience.

Consider the Types of Midwifery Care Available

As with most certifications, there are levels to midwifery practice. These include: Lay midwife, Direct-entry midwife, Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), Certified Midwife (CM), and Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). If you’re going to pursue a home birth, ensuring your midwife is trained to handle all of the most common complications or immediate medical issues that very well could come up at any birth.

Are You Considered to be High Risk in Your Pregnancy?

If your pregnancy is considered high risk your choices may be more limited. While midwives are truly amazing, diagnosed high risk pregnancies are typically delivered in a hospital, where surgical interventions and acute neonatal care teams are only seconds or a few minutes away. High risk pregnancies include things like: being 35-years or older, having multiples, a breech baby, gestational diabetes, and pre-eclampsia to name a few.

How Far are You From Your Chosen Delivery Location?

I’ve had clients that live around the corner from their local hospital, and I’ve had clients who live more than over an hour away from their birth center. Most experts agree that if you are considering a home birth, you should live no more than 15-minutes away from an adequate hospital. If a cesarean section is medically necessary (which even a Certified Nurse Midwife is not qualified to provide) or your baby needs immediate surgery or NICU support, you don’t want to worry that your decision to have a baby at home negatively impacted your/his/her outcome. However, many are of the mindset that the unnecessary medical interventions that can often take place at a hospital will likely be avoided at home.

What is Your Current Medical Status?

When reviewing the studies comparing success rates of home or hospital births, the majority of the “worst case scenario” home births were linked to mothers not adhering to the high-risk factors listed above, or because there were things associated with their own health and well-being. Women with existing medical conditions or risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, etc., should ask their medical providers for their recommendation on whether or not to have their babies in the hospital or local birthing center.

Are You Feeling Confident About This Birth Experience?

A birthing person is more likely to dilate and embrace difficult contractions if they feel comfortable and supported in their surroundings. In other words, feeling safe can not only lead to a more positive emotional experience, but also a faster delivery.

If you have fears surrounding giving birth in any particular setting, do your own research and plan for what makes you feel the most comfortable. Regardless of the setting, doula services like Babycakes Birth Services can help to provide that additional physical and emotional comfort, while ensuring that you are informed and heard along the way. My desire is for every parent and baby to experience a positive, healthy and empowering labor and delivery. Doing what’s best for YOU – regardless of what others have to say – is the best way to achieve that.