Home Birth vs. Hospital Birth

water birth

Home births with midwifes or at birthing centers (BC) are different in that you are able to walk around without intravenous access or monitoring of the baby or contractions, and you're able to eat and drink. With home births or BC births, you can have as many people involved in your delivery as you would like, as opposed to the limit of two or three in the hospital.

Having an experienced person there will also make it run a bit smoother because they know what is needed and how to help comfort you during contractions and throughout the process.

The home delivery can be a quiet and private experience, or a celebration. This all depends on your desires and expectations. Focus is on how you are tolerating the contractions, and keeping you comfortable seems to be the key.

There is also no time constraint – real or assumed. We all need to remember that birth is a natural occurrence; and you don't need a hospital, a nurse, or any other personnel for it to happen. It happens on elevators, in the backs of cabs, and other inopportune times. The use of midwives or medical personnel makes it safer in the event your baby needs some help at delivery. Having experienced people there will also make it run a bit smoother, because they know what is needed and how to help comfort you during contractions and throughout the process. This being said, one of the cons of home births would be if there were problems that were unforeseen. A newborn that is in distress needs immediate attention, and a wait for the emergency medical service could make a big difference in the outcome of your baby and his or her health.

{ MORE: Waterbirth }

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg; there are several differences between the two settings. If you are being care for by accredited professionals, you should be able to tell them your idea of how you would like your birthing experience to go, and a plan should be prepared that will help you have the experience you desire. Just keep in mind that the most important thing is the outcome of a healthy baby; if that is your goal, everything else should either fall into place or be adjusted to suit. Keep asking questions, keep informed, and keep your options open.

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Home Birth vs. Hospital Birth

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64 comments

  1. Fierozah says:

    Awesome info. I have given birth to 6 children separately and naturally in hospital. I’m feeling extremely broody and would perhaps love to have another baby. My dream was always to have a homebirth, a water birth even more. Is this advisable as I’ve had so many children before. Would it be best for me to just give birth at a hospital in case of an emergency. Am I a higher risk. My birthing experiences felt cold and impersonal. I wasn’t allowed to have my husband or anyone present besides the nursing staff and doctors if I needed them. I normally go to government facilities as private hospitals are very costly in South Africa. please advise.

  2. Shana says:

    Nothing wrong with a home birth, it happens more often than we think actually without even planning it. I don’t think it’ll be for me though. I’d like a water birth in a facility so they can clean it up. 🙂

  3. Debra says:

    There is not a lot of flexibility in a hospital… Even when they say there is. They will try to manipulate you by telling you “this is best for the baby” whether or not it actually is. Most augmentations done in a hospital tend to be for the doctor and nurses comfort, not yours. I hope your birth experience is what you want it to be, but I’ve seen a number of hospital births that just weren’t.
    I’m having my first baby at a birthing center with Certified Nurse Midwives. It sounds like they pretty much leave you alone, which is what I want. If I need help, they’re there. But otherwise, I can have my doula and my fiance there to support me and everyone else can leave me alone! I’m most happy about NOT being hooked up to an IV! I hate needles!!! Also, I don’t want to be hooked up to a fetal monitor. They come in and check with a monitor but it’s not constant. I would highly recommend looking up the full pros and cons because statistically, if you have a low risk pregnancy then a home birth or birthing center birth is safer. There is a lower chance of maternal or fetal death. That’s pretty big to me!

  4. Jenny says:

    I’m 14 weeks pregnant with my first child and plan on having a home birth with a CPM. This article is short and gives good thinking points, but it is always best to do your own research, interview potential midwives and doctors and make a decision based on what you know is right. I found a midwife who I trust and who also has hundreds of births under her belt, and is very knowledgeable and compassionate. She answered all of my questions beautifully and I have no doubt she is the best fit for me. My sister plans on giving birth in a hospital, and does not agree with my choice. Bottom line, wherever you feel is the safest, best place to give birth is the right place for you!

  5. Leah says:

    My husband and I decided to go with a midwife and a home birth mainly because of the cost. We couldn’t believe how expensive it was to have a baby in a hospital, especially without health insurance. The cost for our midwife will be less than what people pay a hospital and an ob/gyn even including their insurance. Plus, I am one of those women who likes to be alone or with my husband when going through pain. I don’t think I would fare well in a hospital.

  6. these generalizations about hospital births are not always the case– all three of my kids were born in hospital, two without pitocin and the first two took 12 hours, the last one took 16 hours and I was not confined to the bed or the room. I was able to walk around the hospital to get the contractions going, walk around my room and various positions and had all three naturally. I had to get stitches with the last one and needed to be hooked up for a short time for step bacteria having antibiotics so the baby wouldn’t get strep, but even with the pitocin with my first I was able to walk around the hospital. they didn’t rush me and I had all three with no medication, no pain relief, no epidural. just because you have it in the hospital where there are less risks, does not necessarily negate having a natural birth. and those who have to recover from c sections or do the medicine thing, childbirth is never a piece of cake no matter how it is done, but if you are blessed to be able to do it natural, it can be at home or in hospital…

  7. Jennifer says:

    wish I could have had that option but after 6 children 3 complicated deliveries 1 of which was c, 2 vbacs and this time gestational diabetes w/ insulin yup not happening well bring on #7 but gimme a birthing bar and let me walk some!!!!!!!!

  8. Shirley says:

    I prefer being in the hospital. I have had unforeseen complications with two of my three children and a foreseen complication with my first. Medical intervention was needed. We are now expecting twins so to the hospital we will go. Labor as much as you can at home and then head to the hospital.

  9. Nat says:

    find a doctor who has read “husband coached childbirth” and have a hospital birth.

  10. EbyMom says:

    I prefer hospital birth cos of unforeseen complications that may arise. Apart from complications, people deliver anywhere, home, mall, market, restaurant etc. God knows how to take care of them. If you are at high risk of complications better deliver in the hospital. Note that there may be mothers that would want to deliver normally but complications may arise and c-section will be the only option so in this case what happens at home. You can still walk the halls in the hospital.

  11. Cassy says:

    My aunt just asked me during my baby shower last weekend if I was going to do a home birth and the thought actually never even crossed my mind! Then, I got a call from a good friend of mine who is a strong advocate for midwives and was discussing some of the benefits with me. Even though I won’t be doing a home birth this go around, who knows what round 2 will bring! 🙂

  12. Senora says:

    Ewww, oh sick! Seriously……?

  13. KITTYNOLAND says:

    If I would have had a home birth, my son would have died. My sister almost had a home birth and at the last minute suffered dystocia. Without forceps and/vacuum forceps, her son would also be dead. There are too many mitigating factors, healthy or not, that can occur. I could never forgive myself, if my desires cost the life of my child. I hate hospitals, most of us have no desire to be there. I wonder how many women in the 1800’s would have given anything, after loss after loss, to have the options and availability of antenatal specialists, anaesthetics, and C-sections; if it were necessary to save the life of their child and themselves. I think about how quickly women can hemmorhage…. I am not going to have this baby in the comfort of my home, not at the expense of my husband losing a wife and my son losing his Mommy! I think there may be a level of selfishness involved. That’s why we have choices and need to educate ourselves. No one can advocate for you but YOU! Know your provider, options and limits.

  14. tangled says:

    I prefer home birth…….but in NYC u cannot but I will try

  15. Phammom says:

    I prefer birthing center connected to the hospital. Best of both worlds.

  16. Kendra says:

    Years ago I researched birth options and decided I wanted to birth at a birth center. As long as my pregnancy keeps going well & both myself and baby have no complications—-NO ONE will convince me to have a hospital birth, unless and emergency were to arise.

  17. Kim says:

    A hospital birth does not automatically mean pain management, pitocen, constant fetal monitoring, bed constraint, or limits on food and/or drink. It’s important that everyone create a birth plan and give copies to all medical personnel involved in the birth. I delivered my son in a hospital, 100% naturally with zero medical interventions. I could move about freely, eat and drink as I pleased, and have as much time as I needed to birth without pressure to speed it along. Being informed and prepared is the key! As well as having a provider who is on the same page as far as your birth plan goes.

    • Debra says:

      I’ve seen friends go in with birth plans but a lot of times the doctor has their own plans and is only so accommodating. It’s great you got what you want! Unfortunately, I’ve seen the opposite happen quiet often and not for any medically necessary reasons. That’s why I have chosen to birth in a birthing center. I don’t want to be hooked up to an IV.

  18. Liza says:

    I haven’t found a lot of information in either books, blogs or articles that help women understand what issues they may face getting to the hospital if the need arises. Everyone seems to make it sound so easy. And then I read a great childbirth book called “Laboring Well” that included a great discussion on all the potential problems. The book was super supportive of natural childbirth and had lots of great and helpful ideas, but learning that the transition from home to hospital may not always be easy or smooth was eye-opening to say the least.

  19. I have always thought about home birth but I do not think that I would be able to do it.

  20. Heatherly says:

    I had my first 5 babies in the hospital and was conviced by my friends to try out a homebirth. I’ve had three so far…..one needing immediate medical attention, which my midwife was well prepared (it’s the law to have oxygen, and other necessaties.) They were all water births too….I will never go back to the hospital unless it’s an emergency.

  21. Mayleen says:

    A close relative decided to have a home birth, and prepared well for it. She did everything she was asked to do. The pregnancy was low risk, the midwife experienced, the husband involved, and prenatal care was all diligently taken care of. Everything was going well, but the baby wouldn’t come out. She was taken to the hospital. She underwent a C-section, and the baby was already dead. The baby was a perfect 8 pound baby girl who never had a chance because of the lack of technology of a home birth. Home birth sounds very romantic and natural, but even a small complication can become a regretful tragedy. Please, bring up your baby as naturally as you want as soon as it is born, but don’t risk the life of your baby by being so naive.

    • nichole says:

      as much as i hate hospitals, and would much prefer to be in the comfort of my own home, that is the reason i will not do a home birth, because something that would be a quick simple fix in the hosp, can go unseen in a home birth, and turn into sever health issues for the mother and child, including the loss of a life. its sad to hear that this happened, and my thoughts go out to your relative and family.

  22. amarlismommy says:

    I would love to have a home birth, but my husband is not comfortable with it and my insurance makes the process impossible. We lost our first child because of many rare birth defects. Although the baby I’m currently carrying is very healthy I’m still considered high risk because of my past. My first child needed immediate highly trained medical intervention so I just cant do the home birth this time. If everything goes smoothly this time and I can convince my husband I will defiantly do a home birth.

  23. amarlismommy says:

    I just watched "The Business of Being Born." Oh my, thank you so much for suggesting it. It was amazing and so full of information that just isnt available to women from obgyn.

  24. amarlismommy says:

    Thank you for the documentary suggestions.

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