Are Birthing Centers the Better Choice?

Hello moms and dads.  With each of my babies, I opted to give birth at the hospital.  I experienced pre-term labor with each and was highly concerned that all the proper medical care be available to me in an instant.  At the time, the hospital seemed to be the right choice, especially since my pregnancies were considered high-risk.

Yet for those moms unlike me who are not in a high-risk situation, here’s a new idea coming from across the pond that could become pretty debated, or at least raise some questions from American mothers-to-be. According to an article recently published on NPR entitled “Should More Women Give Birth Outside the Hospital?” the British National Health Service has recommended that healthy women with healthy pregnancies skip out on the hospital when it comes to the delivery.

Are Birthing Centers the Better Choice?

Now I know what a lot of you are thinking right now. What would I do without the experience of the doctors and nurses to get me through this very scary and very painful situation? In the tiny chance that something goes wrong, shouldn’t I be where they have the people and medical resources to fix it?

With only 1% of American babies being born outside of hospitals, as reported in the news story, it seems that most of us are having these same thoughts.  But for healthy women, a birthing center that is linked to a blood bank and a hospital if things do go unexpectedly may be the safer route, the author suggests.

Despite my own decision to have my babies in this hospital, I personally see a lot of birthing center benefits. There is more personalized care, you have more freedom to walk around and have other children or family members in the room with you, and it is about a third cheaper than a hospital. However, birth centers are not recommended for women with complicated pregnancies (such as me) or who are overweight.

After reading this article, I would have to agree that the overwhelmingly high number of hospital births is related to both the culture and the overall health care system of the US. According to the article, “the UK has universal health care, and British women are generally referred to a midwife as soon as they know they’re pregnant.” The article quotes former London-based midwife, Yinka Sokunbi, now living in the US as saying “doctors and midwives have a close partnership.” It’s a very different story here in America. We are exposed to numerous TV shows which glorify hospital nurses and doctors (I can think of at least three off the top of my head right now), while I can’t think of any program that showcases the midwife. Moreover, if I was given my own personal midwife after getting the news I was pregnant and I had uncomplicated births, maybe I too would have been decided on a birthing center delivery. My prediction is that it will most likely take years of health care and culture reforms to get on board with the UK’s methods. Then maybe midwife-led births in the US will be preferred by more than the 9% of women opting for this currently, according to the news story.

And what about home births? As stated in the news article, births outside of hospitals and birth centers are highly discouraged by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If something goes wrong during an at-home delivery, the expertise and the medical equipment would not come nearly as quickly as in a birth center or hospital, if at all. Both the woman and her child are at high risk during these deliveries.

My advice to all you expectant mothers out there before choosing a birth center or choosing a hospital? Get informed. Ask your doctors for recommendations and know your options. In the end, you are the mother and it’s your decision whether you’re more comfortable with a birthing center vs hospital birth. Some hospitals even have their own birthing centers in the facility, so it’s nice to know all of your options before you opt where to deliver your baby. After all, your comfort with the people and the place you’re delivering your baby is the most important thing on the big day!

What about my Mommy readers? How did you decide where you were delivering your child? I would love to hear from you!