Seeking Information Regarding Hospital Births Vs. Home Births

Updated on January 24, 2008
T.B. asks from Portland, OR
9 answers

Seeking Information regarding Hospital Births vs. Home Births.
My first delivery was in the hospital with medication (also 10 years ago!) and I would really like to go as natural as possible and am considering a home birth.
Any tips from any Moms' out there?
Thank you!

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answers from Portland on

It seems like other people have left some pretty good advise. I had a homebirth and wouldn't even consider doing it any other way. I was comfortable, I was allowed to progress at my own pace (some hospitals give everyone pitocin to speed up labor) and I didn't have to get up and move anywhere after the birth. I say homebirth all the way! :)

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answers from Portland on

Did you know that the birth rate is higher for babies born at home? It is actually statistically proven safer to have a home birth/vs a hospital birth. so many procedures are done in a hospital that are unecessary. i had a home water birth and it was a life changing experience. highly recommend it! i loved it so much that i am now a doula helping other moms!

hope this helps!



answers from Portland on

I would be dead today if I'd stayed at home. I was going to have a water birth actually.

What ensued, nobody could have seen coming. Complicated delivery, two transfusions and a call to the clergy to talk to my family b/c I wasn't going to make it.

Trust your gut. What is it telling you? It is a God-given gift that is not to be underestimated! AND it becomes very pronounced in its opinions as you draw closer to delivery. Listen to it and obey it. I am sure glad I did.




answers from Portland on

Congratulations on your growing family!!! You can find facts about hospital vs. homebirth pretty easily on the internet or by meeting with some doctors and midwives in person and asking your questions. I will just give you my tips in terms of what I did when faced with the same options...I had my first daughter in a hospital (pitocin induced, no other medication) and my last three girls at home. (2 year old and 6 mo twins).

I have experienced both types of births and I heartily recommend giving birth at home if you are seeking a natural and safe experience. I am not the "type" of person who would normally do something like give birth at home. I like machines that tell me when the contractions are coming, I hate pain, and I like people fussing over me when I am sick or in need. :) I will warn you that choosing a homebirth may be "harder" in terms of you being willing to take responsibility for your decisions about your care and being informed and wise about what is taking place with your body. I found that this element of owning up to making decisions regarding birth rather than signing over my body to someone else was challenging and I have grown tremendously as a result.

Find a team of excellent midwives and meet with them to discuss birthing at home. (we used Susan and Celeste for both births and they were amazing). My prenatal appointments were always a full hour long and I felt so much more informed and equipped to make decisions regarding the care of my body and my children than when I just went along with everything the doctor/nurse midwife would say the first time around. My experience in the hospital was in no way "bad" (though I know many people's whose was and have had their births entirely over managed) but much of it felt very fear driven, overly managed (sometimes to the tune of creating complications that otherwise wouldn't even occur) and all around intrusive. My homebirths have been safe, calm, natural, miraculous, and my husband had a HUGE role and was even able to bring the babies up out of the water with me (except my breech baby who received excellent gentle care from my midwives who assisted her birth). In the case of complications (all of which I was VERY aware of) I would have chosen to be exactly where I was and under their care in an emergency.

That was really long winded...sorry. :) Hope it helps and enjoy your journey to your newest daughter!



answers from Portland on

Mothering magazine just had a really great article on this in the last issue and the rise of c-sections in hospital births. Check out
(cut and paste the whole link)
Best wishes,



answers from Portland on

Hi, T. -

I had my first son in a hospital 8 years ago, and then had a home water-birth with my second son 4 years ago. The hospital birth was okay (except for the unasked-for episiotomy), but Let me tell you... it was like the difference between a jalopy and a cadillac! If I ever have other children, it will be home water-birth with midwives for me. I LOVED the ease of water-birthing... when those contractions came, I could relax afterwards by floating, or push against the sides of the cushy tall kiddie pool we used, and I STAYED WARM, I did not have to be bothered by changing people, or constant checkups, or pressure. Although there is not medical "proof", I am convinced that I experienced back labor with my second son; it was an intense experience with a lot of heavy back pain, and then right at the end I felt him turn. To be in the water while feeling all that pressure on my back was so much better! I also got to just step out of the tub, be cleaned off, be helped over to the bed, get examined, and then snuggle in with my new baby and family and never have to leave! It was cheaper than a hospital birth - YES, it's true!, and the food was way better.

That's my experience for you.

Best wishes in your choosing for you!


S. M.



answers from Portland on

Hi T.,
As a doula, I can offer you some comparisons. You really have three options. You can use a hospital, a free standing birth center, or a homebirth with a midwife (usually direct entry midwives). Basically, and very high level speaking these are the major differences:

Hospital birth:

Typically you have to really fight to go outside their protocol, but it can be done. They treat birth as a medical malady rather than a natural event. They have protocols and standards. While they are not out to harm you, they are there for themselves, and they will do things to cover their...well, I'll let you finish the sentence. I find that birth in the hospital without proper support is more medicalized, obviously, but less individual. The upside is that if you want an epidural and interventions they are readily available. The operating room is just right around the corner, and their is a team of medical experts their to interviene in the event of an emergency, largely due to choice made IN the hospital.

A home birth is a birth with honors your body, is in the convenient place of your own home, and the midwife works for YOU, not a hospital that she has to answer to. Midwives tend to see birth as a natural event, not something that needs to be fixed. The downside is that you have to be prepared and get the necessary items ahead of time, and have it at the ready. If you are having a water birth at home, then you have to rent the tub and have it around the house for some time prior to birth. Birth at home is very much what you make it. You can eat, sleep, drink as you wish, and you are not limited to popsicles, ice chips and jello for nutrition. You don't have the option of an epidural or drugs at home, but you do have great support and natural ways of meeting the challenge of contractions. You don't have a team of medical professionals at the ready in the event of an emergency, though there are very few actual emergencies, and a good midwife will see a problem arising before it becomes an emergency. I used to work as an EMT, and can tell you that midwives are trained in basic life support and EMT's or Paramedics are usually just a few minutes away. You might still need transferred to a hospital.

A birthing center birth, allows you to have a birth that honors your body without the clean up at home, without having a birthing tub laying about for possibly weeks before the big day, and you have a team that works for you again. The drawback to that is that you may be birthing in the same building though not in the same room with another birthing Mom. Some birth centers are covered by insurance, and they know how to get your insurance to pay, whereas if you just ring your insurance they will typically say "no". so if you are interested I would visit the birth center and let them do the paper chase for you. The downside anyway is that it is expensive too, and you don't have the option of an epidural or drugs, just as with a home birth. You do have to travel to the birthing center. Again as above you haven't the team of medical professionals at the ready, BUT again midwives are trained to meet MOST urgent needs.

It really depends on your personal choices for your birth. You have a lot of choices and a lot of decisions to make, but they can be fun choices and don't have to be fraught with fear if you have proper support.

Best of luck to you in your newest adventure! I hope that my high level comparison has started you on the right path.




answers from Portland on

T., You might check out the midwife directory at Listed are various homebirth practices around the state listed by region. You can check out each practices' website for more information and you should plan on arranging consultation appointments to make sure you match well with the midwives.

One benefit of birth outside the hospital is that the practitioners you work with in prenatal care are the ones that attend your birth which is not guaranteed in an institutional birth. Most practices offer lab services and prenatal testing but what's unique is the time spent talking about your emotional and physical needs which are paramount to a healthy pregnancy and birth. The comfort gained in hour long prenatal visits, where you can have all your questions and concerned processed will go along way to help you feel more confident during labor.

As a homebirth midwife myself we emphasize informed choice in all aspects of care. There are no required tests or procedures. This is the Midwives Model of Care. Your midwives are partners in your care knowing that you know you best.

Waterbirth is available as well as having whomever you like at your birth including your older child. Emergency equipment and the training to use it are all available with Licensed Midwives. Lastly, homebirth midwives provide a newborn exam, breastfeeding support and any newborn procedures or test you agree to, all in the comfort of your home in the first 2 weeks so that you don't have to leave.

S. Moray, LM, CPM
Northwest Community Midwives



answers from Portland on

I also considered a home birth for my second baby (now 13 months old) because the in-hospital, non-medicated birth of my first son (now 3 1/2) went very smoothly. I thought I would be a good candidate for a home birth. My husband is a physician and was he insistent we deliver in the hospital. Now, I am really glad I listened to him. Very scary complications developed very quickly with my second delivery and I ended up needing an emergency C-section. Even though it only took the doctor 10 minutes to deliver the baby, his APGAR score immediately after birth was only a 2. I hate to imagine what would have happened if we had been at home. I had a very positive and very natural experience in the hospital with my first baby. The staff at Portland Providence were very supportive of my wishes. At this point, I wouldn't consider a home birth if we have a third baby. Too risky.
T. C.

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