Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Business of Birth #2 - Hospital VS Home

Hospital vs Home?! What are you talking about?! Everyone knows that babies need to be born in hospital! Right? No. Not right. Although my parents generation seem to think that a baby that is planned to be born anywhere OTHER than a hospital is complete insanity!

But is it that insane? How is the hospital that much better (in cases that are NOT high risk)? Everything has a place, and a hospital is a place for "sick" or otherwise non-healthy people/babies. BUT, if you've had a completely normal pregnancy, with all normal results, and are "low-risk", they why do you have to be at a hospital? Why not be at home? In your own space, where you can be more comfortable... you have your own food (anyone who's ever spent any amount of time in the hospital can really appreciate having their own food!).

I've personally had 3 hospital births, and for my forth, I'm planning a home birth. It had never occurred to me to deliver at home before... but then I didn't have a midwife for my first 3 children either. I've done quite a bit of research about home births before making my decision. I like lists... so I've made a pro's and con's list of each option. Here's my list!


  • IF anything should go wrong, you're right there and don't need to be transferred (except to another room)
  • IF surgery is required, again, you're already there and only have to wait for a room.
  • IF you need pain medication, they have it on hand (and in my opinion offer the pain meds WAY too often, even when you specifically inform them that you don't want any)
  • The nurses are only a button push away if you have any questions after your baby is born (however, this is only good IF you have good nurses... otherwise it's of no good use)

  • Not your own space, and you can feel uncomfortable and uneasy in the medical setting, which is not conducive to being relaxed and allowing your body to "do its thing".
  • They tend to push pain meds that can lead you down a difficult road filled with interventions and ending in a cesarean section.
  • They often try to rush things (this is dependent on the dr however, some are fine with taking the time needed)
  • You probably won't get YOUR dr... and will have a complete stranger that you've never even met deliver your baby.
  • Worse yet, the dr may be busy in surgery and not make it to your delivery (happened to me with my second - and the nurse who was delivering him had never delivered a baby before, and he wasn't breathing... so they had the resident dr's come in to help), so then you are in the hands of someone who not only do you not know, but they also aren't qualified.  
  • They like to keep you on a time limit - one that's not always necessary.
  • You often aren't allowed to eat - if you're having a longer labour you're going to need food to have enough energy to push that baby out - otherwise you might need the help of a vacuum or forceps during delivery.
  • When you do get food, it's hospital food... gross. And they may not have anything you like. Also, what about your partner? What are they going to eat? Junk from the cafeteria? and how much is that going to cost?
  • While speaking of costs, what about the cost of parking? ($16 for anything over 30 mins at our hospital)
  • And cost of a private room? or will you settle for semi-private, or a ward?
  • Breastfeeding isn't always supported by ALL nurses, and if looking for breastfeeding help, you will almost never get consistent answers. They also only help on their time schedule, not necessarily when the baby is wanting to nurse. These can cause all sorts of difficulties at the beginning.
  • Lack of space in the delivery and  postpartum rooms, makes it difficult for support people or visitors.
  • If you have older children, they are displaced for a few days while you're in the hospital. 

  • In your own space, comfortable, familiar and everything that's YOUR'S is at your disposal.
  • If you want to eat... you have everything you like right there.
  • You don't have to worry about when you should go into the hospital, and if they will turn you away because you aren't "progressing enough" for them. 
  • You can walk freely from room to room for a change of scenery without worrying if some stranger will see you half in the nude (I hate those hospital gowns!)
  • Your support person will feel far more comfortable in their/your home.
  • If you have other children, they can stay in the house... and their routines/lives won't be disrupted because of the new baby. I think it will make for a far better introduction to their new little sibling if they don't feel like they've been shipped off because of the baby's arrival.  
  • You have the option of having a bath/shower whenever you like, for however long you like. (There were restrictions at the hospital I was at, and there were only 2 showers, no tubs, and it was way down the hall in a corner).
  • Your doula/midwife have excellent options for pain management that are easier to administer without the interference of medical equipment (I find in the tiny hospital rooms you tend to be tripping over all of their equipment).
  • You have a choice on what position you birth your baby. You don't have to be splayed out on your back working against gravity.
  • Once your baby is born the midwife places your baby on you for skin to skin contact, that helps to calm your baby, pink them up, and it's a great start to your bond as Mommy and Baby.
  • Midwives also usually let the cord pulse for longer than they do at hospitals, ensuring that your baby gets all the benefits from the umbilical cord.
  • Your baby stays with you... the ENTIRE time... unless there is an emergency of some sort.
  • After the birth, you get to stay/sleep in your own bed. This is a BIG DEAL. Hospital beds suck.
  • Also, you don't have to be transferred to another room (love those trips through the hospital, just after birth, looking a little dazed as strangers stare at you).
  • The midwife and/or your doula can and will stay with you for the first few hours afterwards. Then they go away and let you rest. And let you bond with your new little one without the constant interruptions of vitals, vitals again, questions, vitals... ect.
  • You have a private room. FOR FREE. That's huge... with my last I was in a ward with 3 other women. Sleep didn't come easy... or at all for that matter.

  • If you need a c-section, then you have to be ready to be transferred to the nearest hospital. Keep in mind that if you were already at the hospital, you would still have an average wait time of 20 mins before being able to get into the OR. So the wait time isn't much different, but you now have to deal with the transfer.
  • If you need pain meds, you will have to transfer to the hospital.
  • If something goes wrong during the birth, you will sometimes have to be transferred to the hospital for observation.
  • Pretty much all the cons are "if's" and deal with being transferred. However, in a normal, healthy pregnancy with no complications, it is unlikely for those "if's" to arise. 
All in all... the only reason to be at a hospital is IF you are having complications. In which case, thank heavens that we have the option for medical intervention. Without it there would be some miracle babies who would not have made it. BUT, if everything is healthy and normal, then why be at a hospital at all? That's just my personal opinion.

I have to say that I'm very excited about the impending birth of my fourth. I'm already more relaxed with my plan. I'm not stressed like I was last time about when I should go in to the hospital, if I'll make it there in time, what do I do with my other 3 kids if I'm here alone when it happens.... ect.

My parents generation in general seem to find this idea of birthing at home ludicrous. Purely insane, and primitive. I get the "but that's why we have hospitals!".... no, we have hospitals for emergencies. When was the last time you decided to go to the hospital for yourself as a completely healthy person? or take your healthy child there? unless you're visiting someone else, you don't. Because there's no need too. Pregnancy and birth are not sicknesses, and shouldn't be treated as one, unless complications arise.

I'm not saying you have to be for home births... I'm just saying keep an open mind, and do your research. You may be shocked by some of the things you find!


  1. Hi Diane! I had all of my boys at home without a hitch (okay there was that one boy who came so fast the midwife couldn't get there in time, but all was well) I'm happy to answer any questions you may have! It was a great experience for us.

    1. I love to hear others' experiences... I'm glad that everything went well... even with the baby boy in a hurry! That's actually my fear this time, that the midwife won't be able to get here in time. I guess we will see though.

      Oddly, my biggest worry was about being comfortable. How odd is that though? I'm certain to be more comfortable in my own home than in a hospital... It's changing my point of view.

      I'm very excited to be sharing in the home birth experience!