Birth Setting Options

Homebirth, Hospital and Birth Center

Besides deciding on who will take care of you during pregnancy and your birth the place you choose to give birth is one of the most important decisions you will make while you are pregnant.

The place you are in when giving birth affects the care that you receive, the relationship with your family and caregivers, the amount of information you will receive, the choices and options you have during labor and birth and the degree to which you are involved with decisions about your care. If you are a well and healthy childbearing woman you can consider giving birth in a hospital, an out of hospital birth center or your home. It is important to choose a place of birth that offers care that is consistent with the best available research about safe and effective care. 

You want your birth environment to enhance your ability to give birth, as some environments may interfere with this natural process. It is ideal if the place of birth you choose has supportive staff able to comfort you and provide information to you and your family during this process. Each birth setting whether it be a hospital, birth center or homebirth practice has its own philosophy of birth, style of practice, type and number of caregivers, and varies regarding whether your insurance will cover services.


Hospitals have a lot of safeguards in place but also more interventions than other birth settings. Narcotics and epidurals are available, in early labor you can generally eat and drink as you please but in advanced labor most women prefer liquids or ice-chips. One advantage to having your baby in the hospital is that you can stay "away from home" and recover for one or two days. In general, hospital births are covered by insurance companies.


Many women choose homebirth for the privacy, intimacy and personal control it affords. A home birth typically has the lowest rates of medical intervention, and offers the best chance for a woman to birth without interruption by routine procedures. Insurance varies as to coverage for homebirths.

Birth Center

Freestanding birth centers are independent of hospitals. They often represent a compromise between the comforts of home and the equipment available in hospitals although any emergency or need for surgery will need to be transported to a hospital. Many offer birth tubs and the opportunity to labor in water. Most insurance companies will reimburse for a birth center birth.