Advice for Women About Choosing a Maternity Caregiver and Place of Birth
Your main decisions about place of birth are: hospital, out-of-hospital birth center or home and, if you choose hospital, which one? If you are a typical healthy pregnant woman, you may receive especially appropriate maternity care by planning a birth center birth or a home birth. In U.S. hospitals, many healthy women routinely receive technology-intensive care that is more suited to women with established health problems (see Related Links, below, for results of the national Listening to Mothers II survey). Needless intervention offers no benefit, yet poses risk of harm. Among hospitals, some are less likely than others to liberally or routinely use labor induction, episiotomy, cesarean section and other interventions that are best reserved for situations of genuine need.
Your main decisions about maternity caregiver are: obstetrician, family physician or midwife and, after this choice, which individual or group of providers? If you are a typical healthy pregnant woman, you may receive especially appropriate maternity care from a midwife. Many physicians also give priority to women's informed choice and try to use interventions that pose risk only when clearly justified. Within each type of provider, some are less likely than others to use practices that are best reserved for women with established problems.
As early as possible in pregnancy:
For help with these steps, see in-depth resources on this website:
Choose wisely! Your nearest hospital, your gynecologist or the person who attended the birth of a friend or your own previous birth may not be the best choices for you.
Know your rights! The Rights of Childbearing Women is Childbirth Connection's adaptation of established human rights to pregnancy and childbirth.
Most recent page update: 6/2/2008
© 2014 National Partnership for Women & Families. All rights reserved.
Founded in 1918, Childbirth Connection has joined forces with and become a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Together, these two women's health powerhouses are transforming maternity care in the United States.
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Childbirth Connection has joined forces with and become a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families.
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Check out our resource, "What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know about Cesarean Section."