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How To Find The Perfect Birth Place

 

Perfect Birthplace +Darren Hubley. shutterstock_47473732

 

Many women actually don’t put too much thought into choosing a birthplace but your chosen place can totally make or break your experience, depending on what you’re looking for.

Maybe you thought this is a cakewalk and you´ll just do what everybody else does.

Well, I must say that these choices are usually made quite naive. A hospital sounds as the safest place. It has lots of equipment and the staff is always prepared for an emergency.

This may be true for some but not for all.

Many times women experience not feeling safe and supported, calm and respected in a hospital setting. And they often experience that their plans are not supported. Or that a cascade of interventions starts because of hospital standards.

When you get pregnant you will have to decide where you want to give birth. The sooner you decide the better I would say because with some options you have to be very fast to get what you want.

And if you aren´t pregnant yet it´s great to think about this ahead of times.

 

In general you have 4 options to choose from:

  • hospital birth
  • birth-center birth
  • home birth
  • unassisted birth/freebirth

 

The way I am listing these does not show my personal preference but the commonness people choose these places (more than 95 % of birth in the U.S. occur in a hospital).
 

Hospital Birth

220px-Geburt_01
Picture from wikipedia.org

Most births take place in a hospital setting but that doesn´t mean it´s the best for you & your baby. If you are a women with a high-risk pregnancy you should go here (and by this I don´t mean age 35+). If you want an epidural or a scheduled c-section this is your place to go too.

It is of course possible to have a natural, unmedicated, low-intervention birth in a hospital too but you may have to work harder for it and it´s really good to be very clear about what you want and what you don´t want.

You may think that you will be safer in a hospital but when you know something about the nature of birth and the atmosphere it needs to work well you will understand that some complications only arise BECAUSE you are in a hospital (e.g. labor stalls because you feel disturbed and not well cared for and a cascade of intervention starts). Check out your local hospital’s rate of labor induction, C-sections, assisted vaginal delivery etc.

In a hospital your care providers may change during the course of you birth according to their work shifts. You may want to check if you can team up with a midwife that you can bring to your birth – that´s not possible everywhere.
 

Birth Center

AABC-website-39
Picture from birthcenters.org

Usually a birth center will offer comfortable, home-like rooms, say, a regular bed (not a hospital one) or birthing tubs, birth stool, with midwives or maybe doctors attending. Some birth centers are on hospital grounds or close by while others are further away.

Women who favor birth centers like the more intimate atmosphere and the one-to-one care. You get to know the midwives during your prenatal care visits.

In most birth centers you go home a couple of hours after the birth and would need a midwife to come home for postpartum care.

While some birth centers may use some medication for pain relief too (you need to inquire this) you would have to be transferred to a hospital for an epidural.

Check out their policies, backup arrangements and reasons to transfer. See if you like the midwives, rooms and their philosophy. They usually offer an orientation with a tour where you can get information and ask your questions.
 

Home Birth

JenJakobBirth3
Picture from bringbirthhome.com

While the percentage of home births in the U.S. and Germany is between 1-2 percent of all births I´ve found that in the U.S. a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control says home births have increased 29 percent from 2004-2009. In the Netherlands ~ 30 % of the babies (of low risk mothers) are born at home.

Scientific studies have shown that for healthy, low-risk mothers and babies a home birth is as safe as a hospital birth.

This is for you if you feel safe in the comfort of your own home and if that´s the place you can relax and let go best. Here you can eat, drink, walk, dance, kiss, make love or whatever you want during birth. That makes it easier to include sensuality into your birth than in the other settings.

Check in with your other family members about this option. For a home birth everybody must be in the same boat together. If you already have other children and maybe want to have them present educate them about natural birth.

You will need to hire a local midwife or doctor who attends home births (in some U.S. states, home birth midwives are still not licensed or recognized – check that out) and get to know her/them during prenatal care.

Here you always need a plan b in case complications arise.
 

Unassisted Birth

Very few women choose an unassisted or freebirth where there is no midwife, doula, doctor or other medical personel present for the birth. In some countries you are obliged to call a midwife when you give birth (e.g. Austria), in others there are no regulations about this.

To do this you have to have a very good connection to your own body, to your baby, to your intuition and should be very well educated about birth, how it works well but also what kind of complications may arise.

Check out Unassisted Childbirth, Laura Kaplan Shanley’s website and forum. She is the author of the book “Unassisted Birth” and has given birth unassisted a few times.

There´s a beautiful book from spiritual teacher Chris Griscom about her giving birth in the ocean to her youngest son.

Ocean Born

And you can check out this video from a woman giving birth in nature. Even if you don´t plan to do that too, it´s a great opportunity to observe a natural, unassisted birth.


 

Since you are the one who will have to take all responsibility for your choices I can not recommend either option. It´s your choice.
 

I recommend you to explore your feelings about each of these places, to take some notes on this and then to inform yourself about the options you have around where you live.

Maybe there´s just one hospital in your area or maybe there are different hospitals to choose from. Check out their policies. How do they work? What do they do what not?

Is there a birth center in your area? How do they work there?

Would you like to birth at home? Can you find a midwife to support you? And maybe also a doula?

 

Here is a list of 20 important Qs to ask yourself (& the staff) before choosing your birth place:

  • What is important for you and your partner?
  • Do you feel safe there?
  • Do you feel protected?
  • Do you feel calm & at peace?
  • Do you feel supported in what you want and in what is best for your and your baby´s health and well being (now that´s a tricky one because opinions here will range widely depending on the care provider)?
  • Could you be undisturbed if you wanted to?
  • Do you trust the care provider (unless you choose an unassisted birth)?
  • Will you be free to move during labor the way you want to?
  • Will you be free to eat & drink as you like during labor?
  • What kind of pain management is used? Do they use alternative methods to ease labor pains?
  • Can you have full control over who will be present at your birth and will you get to know these people well (since they will be with you in a very intimate moment)?
  • Will your choices be respected?
  • Do they respect different cultural,religious or spiritual beliefs?
  • Will you be informed about every procedure and asked if you want it (in case of a real emergency this may not apply)?
  • What kind of time constraints do they have regarding the progression of your birth?
  • Is this a place where your support team would be able to recognize when something´s going off course and you or your child are really in danger and you all need to change to plan b?
  • Did you know that some nurses and doctors have never seen a natural birth and do not know how to help a woman through it?
  • Will you be allowed to have your baby close all the time after birth?
  • Will you be supported in breastfeeding if you need help?
  • If you want a sensual or ecstatic birth you need to consider if this is a place where you can feel free to live & show your sensual and/or sexual energy? Would they leave you alone to share intimacy with your partner?

There is no right or wrong here. There is only your way.

 

gisele bündchen

Giving birth was the most intense and life-changing experience of my life. I am blessed to have been able to have a home birth surrounded by love , where I was able to feel safe. It was a powerful experience. I never felt so vulnerable but so strong at the same time. It was amazing to experience my body become free to do what it was made to do by allowing my mind and my body to let go and be free to experience the changes taking place within…
Gisele Bündchen

Look at what feels right for you and your situation. Do your research. Check out your local birth community (midwives, doulas).

I chose a home birth for myself because I would not have felt safe in a hospital environment full of strangers. That was not the only reason but an important one.

I felt safe at home. And I had a midwife whom I could trust.

Still, I´m not saying home birth is for every one.

YOU must find the right place for YOU.

While a natural birth for a healthy mom and baby is inherently safe there are some medical conditions that require you to birth in a hospital or even have a cesarean (e.g. placenta previa).

If you think home birth would be the best but it scares the sh.. out of you it´s probably not gonna work.

Because fear creates tension and tension will very likely increase the pain and make everything more complicated.

If you really want a home birth though, find a care provider who can work with you on getting rid of your fear ahead of the birth or even better before you get pregnant. You can also work with me.

Inform yourself about all the options you have and remember that you will not birth your baby with your head but with your body.

So no matter how much we know our bodies still follow very primal instincts and whenever we feel disturbed, stressed or in fear our labor can stall and complications can arise.

So the perfect place is a place where you feel most safe and most supported.

Let me know in the comments below what you thoughts are on choosing the perfect place for YOUR birth! I´d love to know.

Love and Pleasure Kiria

 
 

For further information check out these websites:

Coalition for Improving Maternity Services(CIMS) and Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI). Including an excellent downloadable sheet with 10 Questions to Ask your birth place/practitioner.

Human Rights In Childbirth

Evidence Based Birth

Choices In Childbirth, offers workshops, tools, and resources to help expecting moms evaluate the many options for where, how, and with whom to birth.

Birthworks International

Childbirth Connection for women and families and their 20 Rights of Childbearing Women

Spinning Babies, Easier Childbirth with Fetal Positioning

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)

ICAN – international cesarean awareness network brings legal, medical, ethical, and practical information to consumers regarding cesarean rates and VBAC.

Midwives Alliance North America (MANA), online resource for midwives and listings

Homebirth Dads, a video with lots of the same questions and concerns many partners have when considering home birth. Dads are interviewed and give their perspective on the event.

My Midwife, online resource from the ACNM on nurse midwives and advocacy of this childbirth option.

Bring Birth Home, an online resource for homebirth and safety information.

American Association of Birth Centers (AABC), resources and listings of U.S. based birth centers

Doula Match, find a doula

 

Top picture from Darren Hubley. shutterstock
Picture of Gisele Bündchen found on theartofmidwifery.tumblr.com

 


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