Pregnancy: Deciding Where to Deliver

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Topic Overview

When it's time to give birth, you have a choice of where to deliver your baby. Do you want to have your baby in a hospital? Is a birthing center more your style? Or would you prefer to have your baby at home? Do you plan to use a midwife? What will your health insurance cover? All of these questions are things to think about as you weigh your options.


Most medical doctors (MDs) deliver only at hospitals. Some hospitals also allow registered nurses with advanced training (certified nurse-midwives) to deliver there under a doctor's supervision. Many hospitals offer special birthing rooms. These rooms are comfortable and homey. They have large beds, wooden furniture such as rocking chairs, and pictures on the walls.

Different hospitals have different rules about who can be in the room during the birth. Most hospitals allow the woman to have visitors during her labor. But during the actual birth, the hospital may limit who can be in the room. These rules are to avoid overcrowding and the risk of infection.

Ask for a tour of the hospitals near you. See what options they offer. One advantage of a hospital birth is access to the staff and equipment. They are right there if you have problems or complications with the birth. And a hospital offers a wide range of options for pain relief.

Birthing centers

A birthing center is usually staffed by certified nurse-midwives. They can call in a doctor or send you or your baby to a nearby hospital if there are problems or complications. Birthing centers are less formal and less institutional than hospitals. You may be allowed to have several people, including other children and family members, with you during the birth.

Birthing centers are not recommended if you have a high-risk pregnancy. Emergency medical equipment and options for pain relief are limited. Giving birth in a birthing center usually costs less than in a hospital. But it may not be covered by insurance.


Some certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) will deliver in a home setting. Certified professional midwives (CPMs) and lay midwives will too.

The major disadvantage of a home birth is the risk of an emergency situation. In that case, you or your baby would need to be taken in an ambulance to a hospital. The time it takes to get you or the baby to the hospital may be critical.

A home birth also has advantages. You may feel more comfortable staying in a familiar place during childbirth. And you can choose who you want in the room with you.

A home birth costs the least. But it may not be covered by insurance. A home birth is not recommended if you have a high-risk pregnancy.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofOctober 2, 2015