Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Birth at the Hospital or the Birth Center?

29 weeks pregnant.  And thanks to some cool weather recently, my feet aren't enormous yet!

So due to a recent change in my insurance, I actually have the option now to have this baby either at the hospital (as I did with Sly, both by choice and by insurance-dictated necessity) or at the birth center.  Either way, I'll be using the same group of midwives.

Here are some thoughts about the two options.


- Just in case anything goes wrong, they have everything they need to take care of me and the baby.  I wouldn't have to be rushed anywhere in the ambulance.  During my labor with Sly, I developed preclampsia and had to be put on IV (and stay on it for 24 hours after the birth - ugh, that was annoying).  The midwives told me that had I tried having a birth center birth, I might have been shipped to the hospital anyways, because of that.
- My experience last time was good overall.  The labor and delivery staff was awesome.  Once they moved me into the post-natal section, there was a noticeable decrease in nursing ability and attention.  But it might be worth dealing with the annoyance of that because...
- I really like that I got to relax in the hospital for a couple days recovering, and being taken care of.  The birth center has a 12 hour maximum stay after the birth (and I think it's usually less, if it's not your first baby).
- Friends visit at the hospital.  It's nice because it's not your own house, and you don't feel like you have to entertain them, clean up, or feed them anything.  You get "kicked out" of the birth center too soon for most people to have a chance to visit.
- This may sound silly, but I loved how they take those fresh-out-of-the-oven professional newborn photos.  We bought a 5x7 of Sly, and decided we'd do the same for all our future babies.  Sure, I could take baby girl to a photo place when she's a week old or something...but it's just not the same.
- On our last night at the hospital, the nurses took Sly to the nursery for an hour (gasp!  oh no, my baby's ruined for life!!*)  and served Tom and me a fancy dinner - steak, potatoes, good bread, sparkling grape juice, was just a really nice little touch.  And that, sadly enough, was our last "date" for a really long time after.  I liked that a lot.

Birth Center

- The birth center would probably be a more relaxed and low-key environment to give birth.  I'm assuming there'd be much less equipment beeping and flashing away, no doctors peeking in to check on things, etc.
- We live literally minutes away from the birth center - I could walk there even, except I know that when I'm having contractions, there's no way in heck I'll be willing to try.  It's not much farther to get to the hospital, but if it's time to go during rush hour, it'll be trickier.
- At the birth center, you're allowed to eat during labor.  At the hospital, you have to sneak it.  Although...I'm really not sure I'd have any desire to eat anyways, so this might not matter.

Just looking at the sizes of those lists, I think I'm leaning towards a hospital birth again.  If anyone has an opinion or experiences to share, though, please do!

* I was definitely being sarcastic about the nursery ruining a baby! Sly actually spent his whole first night in the nursery. I sent Tom home to get some much-needed sleep, and they wouldn't allow me to be alone with the baby, because the drugs I was on (for preclampsia)could supposedly make me woozy or confused or something. And yes, they gave him a bottle and a pacifier, and you know what? He still took the breast just fine, and I'm not upset about it at all.


  1. You do what's best for you, of course. Just my two cents.

    I am, by necessity, a hospital person. If I didn't have all sections, I probably would be anyway, just because of the many positives you list (although be sure they come take the newborn photo - I left a day early and we ran out of time with G. Boo.)

    Anyway, the "date" with Pat was an amazing plus on top of our great experience with G. We missed it last time but thoroughly enjoyed it this time. That was our last date.

    Also, this is baby #2. You can send your little girl to the nursery for two hours and she won't be ruined. Promise.

    Whatever you choose, we're praying for a safe and happy delivery (and for more cool weather for your feet).

  2. I think the length of stay at the hospital would be the deciding factor for me. And since you'll still be using the midwives, I imagine you'd be avoiding many of the negatives of a hospital birth--unnecessary intervention, etc.

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  4. We loved going to the hospital. Of course, we went to St. Clair, so labor and delivery were all in the same room and I stayed there afterwards. I'm always afraid too many things can go wrong and this time my blood pressure dropped super low, so I was glad to be there. But the nursery is HUGE. Noah spent both nights there and we actually felt rested when we went home. :) Plus, Matthew came to visit us there for brief periods of time and it gave him a chance to see Noah before he arrived home. I think that helped the transition a bit. As I was reading what you said about the hospital, I just kept agreeing over and over. Relax there while you can. :)

  5. This will make me sound heartless (and maybe I am) but my favorite part about Sebastian's birth was that I got a littttttle breathing room from Julia. It was so nice to just focus on Sebastian and the hospital food and um -- the cable tv.

    Yes -- Im a great parent.

  6. So funny how different people's perspectives are: staying in the hospital for a couple of days would definitely be on my "cons" list, rather than "pros". Rather than relaxed, I would feel cooped up. Of course, the postpartum wards here in England are 6 beds to a room with one shower/toilet per room, so maybe that makes a difference!

    I love your hat in the pic!

  7. Statistically, preeclampsia doesn't usually re-occur with a second pregnancy though you're at higher risk for it than you are with your first pregnancy. (I'm a survivor of a severe variant of it called HELLP Syndrome which necessitated my son's delivery at 29 weeks by emergency c-section so I've kind of become an advocate for awareness of it.) Magnesium sulfate (the med you were most likely given) can make you really dippy so I can understand them being super careful when you had Sly.

    Based on the fact that you *had* pre-eclampsia with your first pregnancy, I'd go with the hospital just on the off-chance that something happens. If nothing else, you'll get a little more rest afterwards.

  8. I am someone who found your blog when sly was injured. (just so you don't thi k me some rando. Stranger)

    I had serious complications with my second that had I been at a birth center, I would have died. Serious as in blood pressure crashing to 44/25, massive hemorrghaing and 6 blood transfusions. I would have died. And this was after a completely pain med free birth.

    So when my third surprised us we were so nervous. I wanted a home birth or a birth center birth but clearly that was never an optin for us. But I can tell you that I have a completely natural birth and it went so well. Not one single medication at all. But I also had the peace of mind that should I have a crisis agai , I was where I needed to be.


  9. If I had had a birth center as an option I would have gone with that over a hospital hands down. With my second and third babies I had to lobby pretty hard to be released early from the hospital, as in 26-36 hours after birth. I absolutely hate being in the hospital. With my second and third babies I was ready to go home within the first hour or so after giving birth but was essentially trapped at the hospital since my husband would not hear of me signing myself and the baby against medical advice. I like that birth centers don't keep you, but certainly there are cons to a birth center in the event of an emergency. If our closest birth center wasn't in Bryn Mawr which is nearly an hour and a state away from where we live, I would have gone there. I never labored long enough to need food while at the hospital, but I did make sure I had an unlimited supply of juice while I labored.

    If you decide to go with the hospital just make sure you have a birth plan that states what you hope to get out of your labor. I've found that the nurses have been pretty good about respecting my birth plan.

  10. I would go with the hospital. I've had seven "low risk" pregnancies and had things go pret wrong at delivery twice. I had a birth center transfer with my 3rd baby - there was no time for an ambulance and I went via private car. Seeing the baby born blue and floppy, not breathing, then in NICU for 2 weeks had me swear off attempting out of hospital birth again. With my 6th child, during advanced labor baby's arm and cord were presenting and I needed an emergency c-section as they could not move him. Granted that could've been recognized and transported for at a birth center, but with baby's life on the line I'm glad I was 2 minutes from the OR instead of 20.

  11. I should also add... I'm a pretty anti hospital person, I always went the route of early release. I even asked to be released 24 hours after my most recent section... They wouldnt go for it! But with my normal deliveries it was fine. I don't find the hospital relaxing at all, and was constantly, unnecessarily woken up many times after my most recent delivery. I couldn't wait to get out of there!

  12. You look wonderful in that picture! I wonder if there's any financial difference between the two? Not that that should necessarily be the deciding factor, but I've been told a lot of insurance plans will NOT cover a birth center birth, even with CNMs.

  13. I'm a doula who is 100% pro hospital due to the fact that certain emergencies are fatal if they occur anywhere but a hospital. Birthing centers are great but in my opinion, the atmosphere is not worth the risks. As a mother, I LOVED the hospital on both occasions. I had med-free births and everyone was wonderfully supportive. It sounds like you'll be very happy with your decision!

  14. My local birth center opened after I had already had our second and last baby, so I didn't really have the option. I liked the hospital, I only dealt with the mid-wive and nurses, so it was fine. However, the thing that would make me want to try the birth center were I to have a third labor is the different laboring options they offer that the hospital can't, namely a birthing pool. I think a birthing pool would have been a huge help with relaxation and pain management.

  15. I did a birth center birth, and it was fantastic. I was toeing the hairy edge of pre-ecclampsia, which led my midwife to induce me, and I was also positive for Group B Strep. I got the necessary IV, no problem. Even with those circumstances, the birth went completely smoothly. Had it not, they had emergency equipment on-site, as well as a consulting OB on call at the hospital. I loved the care I received, and intend to birth out-of-hospital for as many of my children as possible.

  16. hospital! the only real pro the birth center has is the more relaxing environment.

    we toured the birth center because we thought it might be cheaper, but then we realized the cost (for our insurance, at least) was about the same. i have to say, with everything that happened with claire's birth, i am SO SO glad we went with the hospital and i would never do it any other way again (well, i probably wouldn't be allowed to either, i guess).