Birthing centers & homebirths

Sarah - posted on 04/23/2011 ( 22 moms have responded )




This topic has probably been discussed at length before, but I'm curious to know everyone's opinions.

I had an OB/GYN & a hospital birth with my son (he's 19 months old now.) Anyway, the labor itself went fairly smooth, but I was VERY unhappy with the hospital experience overall.

So, I've decided that I want to go a totally different route with my next baby. I want to use a midwife & deliver at a birthing center next time. I want as little intervention as possible & I want the experience to be A LOT more personal than it was with my son. Honestly, I'm a little nervous to go this route, but only because I've always had it in my head that hospitals are for delivering babies. I'm also a big chicken when it comes to the pain, but I want to go into my next pregnancy with confidence that my body knows what it's doing & the mindset that I CAN get through it without an epidural.

What are your experiences with birthing centers or homebirths? What's the difference between using a birthing center and birthing at home (besides the fact that you are at home lol.) Would you do it again? What would you change about your labor & delivery experience?


Jocelyn - posted on 04/24/2011




I had my first in a hospital. I was induced, had an epidural, morphine, and everything that goes along with that (eg internal monitoring).

It was HORRIBLE, so when I found out I was pregnant the second time, the very first thing I did was find a midwife!
I had a home water birth. Yup, filled up a huge kiddie pool in my bedroom lol.

It was 10000 times better. I was relaxed, hubby was relaxed. There was no stress. I got to eat and drink and move around. I used hypnobirthing as my form of pain management (it worked wonders! look into it). Because I gave birth in water, my skin was so softened that I didn't tear at all (bonus!) After my daughter was born, we moved 6 feet from the pool to our bed where we nursed right away.
That's the short version of my story, but if I were to get pregnant again, I would definitely do another home birth.

Oh and I felt wonderful afterward. I had energy, I was clear-headed, I was ready to host family thanksgiving 4 days later lol

Valerie - posted on 04/24/2011




I am now a grandma and have had two hospital births and two home births personally. I have also been at many hospital births and home births. Hands down, I would choose home birth, or in your case, birthing center, over traditional. HOWEVER, you need to be healthy and well-educated to have a baby at home, or to be in charge at a birhing center. Having a baby at a birthing center is stilll having a baby at the hospital so other than more control you are still in a medical setting. As to the pain, for me being in a setting where others were in control led to much more pain. Having my children at home was much more pleasant and I remained in control of the pain without any pain intervention. Wherever you choose to have your baby, my rule of thumb is don't mess with mother nature. Don't allow things to speed up the porcess unless there is a sign of distress for you and or the baby. This is what I bewlieve leads to more complications and problems than anything (breaking water, pitocin, gels to soften cervix...) when your baby is ready is the key to a successful delivery. A lttle first grandson was 10 lbs 2 oz and born c-section. Mom went to the hospital in early stage of labor. Immediately they gave her pitocin to speed things up and there the nightmare began that led to the c-section. She was led to believe that she would have to have her future children c-section. she chose to enlist a midwife and have her second at home. Although he was a couple of ounces smaller, he wa born naturally without a complication or drug. His big brother was lying next to mom during labor. It was a beautiful birth!!

Jessica - posted on 04/24/2011




I had my first in the hospital, and even though it was an uncomplicated delivery and I was only there for 2.5 hours before having him, I didn't like the experience. I had an asshole doctor who have me an episiotomy for no reason so I had substantial tearing that was hell recovering from, they whisked him away right after the birth to clean him off etc, and I hated being in the hospital in general. People constantly coming in and out, no rest.

There is a midwife practice that runs a freestanding birth center in the city and I decided to go that route for my second, because I was so unhappy with my hospital birth. Since I had such uncomplicated pregnancies and an uncomplicated delivery the first time, I actually wasn't worried about the safety bit. I was undecided at first if I wanted to deliver in the birth center or the hospital- the midwives do both. I wasn't sure I could handle the pain- it overwhelmed me with my first son's birth and I got an epidural. But it didn't take long to realize that the birth center was truly what I wanted.

I LOVED my birth center experience. I will never go back the the hospital for future children unless actual complications come up. There were several midwives but you meet with them all throughout the pregnancy so you know the one who ends up delivering you.. They were all very nice, warm, caring, respectful. They encouraged me to make a birth plan so they knew my wishes; it didn't end up being very necessary because they already did everything I wanted anyway.

Since I knew my son's birth was so painful (really only during transition, but still) I knew I had to do something drastic about pain management, so I chose hypnobabies. While I did no have a "pain-free" birth, I was able to remain very relaxed and calm and the pain was very manageable throughout labor.

When we got to the birth center it was about 6:30 am and I had been laboring all night (in bed, I was trying to sleep through contractions but it didn't work too well lol). The MW led us back to our room (they have 3 themed birthing rooms you can pick from- I chose the desert room because I liked the warm tones lol). They did preliminary things like checked bp, monitored baby's HR with a doppler through a couple contractions. When she checked me I was 8 cm; none of them could believe it because I was talking/joking with them in between. I was very happy too. The whole experience was very laid back, peaceful, and they left the control up to me. I wanted to get in the tub so they filled it for me, then I got in and they basically just said let them know if I need anything/when I want to push! HR monitoring was intermittent with the doppler. No other routine interventions. When I was ready to push I got on the bed, whatever position/s I wanted. Pushing was the hardest part for me, I hated it, I kept thinking I wished I could get an epidural just for that part because it was so painful. They were very encouraging though; gave me cool wash cloths on my forhead and used warm compresses on my perinium which helped a lot. I laid on my side to give birth and as soon as he slipped out they put him on my chest with a towel and didn't move him for more than an hour. I loved being able to hold him right away with that- with my older son they showed him to me briefly before whisking him away to be cleaned, weighed etc and they brought him back to me 20 minutes later all wrapped up. So I got to hold this baby right away for as long as I wanted, they did all his vital checks and everything while I was holding him and didn't worry about weighing him until later. I nursed him not long after birth and that went well.

We only stayed for 8 hours after the birth then went home. I was unsure about this at first because I wasn't sure I'd be ready to get up and go home so soon, but it ended up working out really well. We stayed long enough to recover a bit, nap, eat. Its much easier to rest in your own home and its easier to control visitors ;)

So I loved my birth center experience. To be honest a home birth never interested me, and still doesn't. Maybe that's partially because I don't actually like my house lol. But a birth center is a nice compromise- all the comforts of home, but there's still emergency supplies just in case as well as quick transport to the hospital if needed and plus, you don't have to worry about the mess.

Jessica - posted on 04/23/2011




I had my daughter (11 months old) in a hospital and had issues with the doctors, but I did do it without drugs. Now I am due with my 2nd in September and I am using a midwife soley and will be doing a waterbirth, but at the hopsital, just in case something were to go wrong. The doctors are not aloud to interfere with me during the birth process, only the midwife, unless something goes drastically wrong. So far, I am LOVING the difference in care I am recieving and I am confident that the water birth will be a better exxperiance all around.

Tara - posted on 04/24/2011




3 natural hospital births, 3 natural home births. Six healthy babies.
I prefer to birth at home, I have always viewed hospitals as places where ill and broken people are fixed and made whole again. If i could have birthed at home with the first 3 i would have. Needless to say I had no interventions, was in a birthing suite and went home within 18 hours with them.
I like the casual atmosphere of homebirthing, no schedule, no nursing shift changes, eat, drink, fool around, have a bath, play cards, dance, go for a walk, talk to the neighbours, have pets near by, family there, friends, children etc. present if you want. I liked the sense of control and security I felt at home in my own environment on my schedule under my conditions.
I think some of the pain is heightened by being in a place that is not familiar and being put under the care of others and told what to do and when can intensify your pain response, being at home can lessen it.
Studies have shown that women who birth at home with supportive family and attendants experience the pain differently, in a different way than their hospital births, some have said it was more manageable and even less intense because they were happier in their own home and less likely to feel threatened or to feel they had to perform for anyone.
Good luck with whichever option you choose.


View replies by

Michele - posted on 04/26/2011




I had 2 hospital births, but with a midwife (2nd one) and an OB/GYN (first one) who acted more like a midwife. Great nurses who asked me what I wanted and were helpful. The third birth was at a different hospital and I didn't like it. They kept trying to direct me and get me to do what they wanted. I was on my knees holding on to the back of the bed and they kept telling me to turn around. Very annoying. Fortunately that birth was quick or I might have hurt someone!

Tia Melissa - posted on 04/25/2011




Let me know how it goes! I'm doing the same thing after 4 hospital deliveries. I absolutely detest hospitals for having normal L&D. Love them for complications... It's more the attitude of the nursing staff & their snotty hallway comments, the nursery keeping my baby/sneaking formula/etc. and their disgusting collections practices. (Called for payment at 4 hours PP. Where did they think I stashed my CC during labor???) I'm really excited about having a CNMW and delivering at a birthing center. I've had an awesome experience so far with them. Who knows, it might even lead to a home birth...

Krista - posted on 04/25/2011




I would love to try what Nikki did -- a midwife in a hospital. But midwifery is pretty rare here in Nova Scotia.

I liked my OB, but I did have a lot more intervention than I would have liked, and in retrospect, I'm wondering if all of it was really necessary.

I wouldn't dare do a homebirth, as I live an hour from the hospital.

So for our next one, we'll be back at the hospital with the OB, as we have no other choice. But I will do everything within my power to avoid pitocin...that stuff is hell in an IV bag.

Frances - posted on 04/24/2011




I have had three birth center births. Two of them were delivered by a doctor and the last one was delivered by a midwife. I was able to have a natural birth, the hospitals around here will not allow it. I was able to eat and drink during labor and I never had the electronic monitor. I only had an episiotomy with my first birth because of fetal distress. The other births I never had any stitches. I actually liked the doctor better because he listened to me. I think it was a personality thing-- the midwife did not take me seriously and wanted me to go out to eat less than 45 minutes before my baby was born. If I had listened to her, instead of my body, the baby would have been born in the car or at the restaurant. The birth center had oxygen available in case your baby needs it and the doctor can give stitches if you need them.

[deleted account]

I think to each their own. I personally feel more comfortable in a hospital. However, I have had all natural births in the hospital too. I just felt that if something went wrong then we were in the right place to save both my baby and myself.

Sarah - posted on 04/24/2011




Thanks so much for all the helpful advice & personal stories! It makes me feel a lot more at ease about my decision to go with a midwife & a birthing center for my next pregnancy!

Like a said in my OP, I was VERY unhappy with my hospital experience. I was induced two days before my actual due date (by choice) and I'll NEVER do that again. I had an IV, pitocin, and an epidural. The anesthesiologist that did my epidural was in a hurry (or so it seemed), because there were so many prego ladies that were asking for epidurals that day. Anyway, he ended up forgetting to turn on my epidural pump. And THEN they increased my pitocin. Once my initial epidural injection wore off, I was in the worst pain ever...I was expecting my epidural to work, obviously, and when it didn't, my pain really started to get out of control.

Anyway, once it was time to push my baby out, the doctor basically ran in, caught my son, stitched me up and ran out. My son stayed in the room with me for about 30 minutes, and then they took him to the nursery. Because there were so many babies being born that night, they didn't bring him back to me for FIVE HOURS!! Needless to say, I was incredibly upset by that!! I had a lot of anxiety with being in the hospital setting, too. I was very uncomfortable & tense, and overall it was a crappy experience.

[deleted account]

If I ever have another baby, I am forgoing the OB and hiring a midwife and giving birth in a birthing center (and I REALLY want a water birth). Of course, it's very unlikely we'll have any more kids, but if we do I know what I want!

[deleted account]

I had a medium-risk pregnancy and delivered a month early due to onset of kidney failure with a forced induction at a different hospital than planned. It was not the most pleasant experience. It took me years to realize that I brought home a health, but small, baby 48 hours later. I wouldn't be a candidate for any kind of homebirth or midwife due to medical issues. But for those with non-complicated and healthy pregnancies, I would go that route. "One and done" has been my motto for a long time!

Minnie - posted on 04/24/2011




I had a home water birth with a hands-off midwife for my second. COMPLETELY different experience compared to my first, very interventionistic hospital birth.

Both of my labors were about 3 1/2 hours long- but the pain of the contractions in my home birth was totally manageable, even though my contractions start off the bat one on top of another- in the hospital it wasn't. I don't even remember a distinct transition during my home birth. Water along with mental imagery techniques are amazing relaxants and pain-relievers.

I would do it a thousand times over if I could. My birth experience with my second daughter was seriously the best day of my life- very healing after my first birth.

Sneaky - posted on 04/24/2011




@Erin, the midwife who really wanted me to have a home birth was from that birthing center! I think most of the midwife team there will do home births now because they finally got the insurance side of thing figured out.

To answer your question Sarah, my third bub was the beautiful water bath delivery - in the hospital with only my midwife (the one I had seen all through my pregnancy) and one support midwife from the hospital there. (Well, and hubby of course!). I really did want a home birth, but my husband was adamantly against it so we hatched the devilish plan for me to labour at home as long as possible and meet our midwife at the hospital when I was ready for drugs. It worked out really well.

I should warn you though - it almost didn't work out that way with my second, she arrived four minutes after I got to the hospital (NO TIME FOR DRUGS!!!!) and every midwife I ran into just shook their head and said "Yea, second babies are always in a hurry". So it's always good to have a 'back up' plan anyway and know what to do if you do end up having the baby at home or in the car by accident :o).

[deleted account]

I was okay with the hospital both times I gave birth. I have a fabulous doctor and the nurses were great for the most part. I can't give any insight on birthing centers except I know people who have loved their experiences at the one in our city.

One thing I want to say about the pain...don't think of your contractions as painful, but intense. With my second, I labored at home, and by the time I got to the hospital I was 8cm. I delivered naturally. That mindset is what helped me stay home so long. Admittedly, I asked for the epidural when I got to the hospital, but by the time it was all set up I was ready to push. (Walking and wiggling and doing anything that relieved the "intensity" also helped!)

Nikki - posted on 04/24/2011




I am not sure Sarah, I am in Australia and for low risk pregnancies it's normal just to have a midwife look after your prenatal care and then labour. So my midwife was assigned by our public hospital. I think it depends on where you live and the legalities as far as insurance for hospitals etc. I would have a look in the phone book and see if you can chat with a midwife to see what your options are. Good luck

Ez - posted on 04/24/2011




I had an over-managed hospital birth (natural labour that turned into forceps with spinal) and will not do it that way again. I was initially booked into the birth centre attached to the hospital, but was risked out of that at 28 weeks due to clinical suspicion of macrosomia. I should have challenged that decision, but hindsight is like that.

I would like a home birth (assuming I am be low risk) but it is logistically difficult here in Aus right now, so a birth centre would be an acceptable compromise. There is one about 20mins from me, and any more babies will likely be born there. I have total confidence in midwife-led care (which I had for the middle portion of my pregnancy). OBs are specialists, trained to find and treat complications. But they are not necessary for a normal, low-risk pregnancy.

Jessica - posted on 04/23/2011




I had both my children by midwife, and had them at a birthing centre. #1 I had to pain killers, did it all natural, only because by the time i asked for it, it was too late. I knew better for baby #2! lol I had to get an epidural for #2 because he was a big baby (over 10 lbs) and I have a spinal cord disease so I had major back pain by the end. But the whole experience is wonderful. They are there for you, not to run the show the way they want(unless something comes up and they need to act quickly) I told my midwife I only wanted my hubby and his mom in the room for baby #2 cause my mom was watching our oldest, and when people started showing up, no one was allowed into the room until I gave consent. I have found with my midwives, that they are like big sisters with a degree in pregnancy and labor. Now we are expecting #3, and once again I am going by way of midwife. Plus the other benefits of birthing centres are the other laboring options, such as the bath(which is wonderful, i did it for both of mine, but ended up back on the bed) or a shower, birthing balls and chairs. More options that what you'd have at a hospital. Good luck with the baby and the decision! :)

Sarah - posted on 04/23/2011




Oh so you had a midwife AND delivered at a hospital? That's cool! Do you know if most midwives use hospitals if you want to go that route?

Nikki - posted on 04/23/2011




I had my daughter in a hospital but I had a midwife instead of an ob, my entire pregnancy I only saw a doctor once. My midwife was wonderful, she was supportive, let me lead and do things the way I wanted them done. I would definitely recommend using a midwife that you have gone through your pregnancy with. That way she gets time to know you and your baby and what you expect out of labour.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms