Birth Settings: Important Considerations

Not all birth settings offer the same options. Before you choose to give birth in a hospital, a birth center, or at home, investigate which options are important to you and available to you. Below are some questions to help you think through this important decision.

birth setting considerations
Who are the main health care providers in this setting?

Is birth viewed as a normal, healthy process?

Do health care providers encourage the clients to be actively involved in making decisions about their care during labor and birth?

Are family (including the baby's brothers and sisters) and friends encouraged to participate?

Are childbirth education classes offered?

Is electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) routinely used?

What drugs (medications, epidurals) and drug-free methods (labor support, tubs and showers, birth balls) are available to manage labor pain?

How often are surgical procedures like episiotomy and cesarean section performed? How about vacuum extraction or forceps delivery?

What is the VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) policy?

How are emergencies handled?

Are mother and baby separated immediately after birth? Is there rooming-in?

Is breastfeeding encouraged by staff?

Can the woman's partner remain with her throughout her postpartum stay?

What is the length of stay after a vaginal birth? A cesarean section? Is follow-up support available?

How much does it cost? Is it covered by my insurance?

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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 9/9/2010