Birth Center Vs. Hospital: Finding the Right Fit For You

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Birth Centers vs. Hospitals

Congratulations—you're in the home stretch of your journey to motherhood! Learning about the birthing process can ensure you experience childbirth with confidence and peace of mind. Deciding where you want to bring your little one into the world is a big decision. No need to worry, we're here to help!

Acenda's Motherhood Advocate and Registered Nurse, Oyinadamola Awogbamila, has experience as a post-partum nurse and a baby nurse in a hospital birthing room. Below, Awogbamila shares the benefits and things to consider when deciding between a birthing center and a hospital for childbirth.

Benefits of childbirth in a hospital setting*
  • Giving birth in a hospital setting gives you immediate access to specialized doctors and nurses, including an anesthesia care team should you decide to use an epidural as a method of pain management or in need of an emergency C-section.
  • Childbirth in a hospital setting is also highly recommended if you are considered high-risk. You should have a conversation with your OB-GYN to determine if your birth is classified as high-risk.
  • A hospital setting also gives you access to the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) in case your baby needs additional help after childbirth.
woman baby birth center vs hospital
Things to consider when choosing a hospital setting for childbirth:
  • You must follow hospital policies at all time. This may include a limited number of support and family members in your room (for safety reasons) and/or limited visitation hours.
  • The hospital is a hospital and may have sick patients around the building.
  • Doctors and nurses have strict protocols and policies mandated by the state and federal government. For example, the staff may have to progress or augment your labor process to abide by these regulations.
  • Be sure to check with your insurance company for coverage.

*Please note, if you are giving birth during the Covid-19 pandemic, it will inevitably affect your experience in the hospital versus those who delivered before/after the pandemic.

Birth centers provide a more private, intimate birthing experience, but it's important to make sure your pregnancy is a good fit. Use the criteria below to determine if a birthing center makes sense for your pregnancy and labor plan.

Benefits of childbirth at a birthing center:
  • Birth centers are not a new idea. Mothers used to give birth at home with the help of their midwives for centuries. Staff typically include licensed midwives and registered nurses.
  • Birthing centers allow mothers to progress through the birthing process at their own pace and in the mother's preferred positions.
  • Typically, more family members are allowed to be with the mother during labor process.
  • Birthing centers have shorter stay times after birth compared to a hospital setting.
Things to consider when choosing a birthing center for childbirth:
  • Birthing centers are only recommended for low-risk births.
  • There are limited pain relief methods offered at birthing centers—mostly natural options, such as a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide gas for pain relief.
  • In the event of an emergency, you may have to transfer to a hospital to receive additional care.
  • Be sure to check with your insurance company for coverage.
Regardless of what you decide, the most important things to remember:
  • The safety of you and your child comes first in any setting you decide to deliver in.
  • Talk to your doctors throughout your entire pregnancy. Be transparent about your fears and concerns. Ask the hard questions so you feel informed and comfortable with what is to come.
  • Do your research. Not all hospitals or birthing centers are created equal. Institutional discrimination based on race, income, and substance use history does exist. Ask friends and family members about their birth experiences. Avoid places with a lot of negative reviews and/or high rates of infections, complications, and staff turnover.

Remember, childbirth is a wonderful and natural process no matter where you choose to give birth!

Acenda Cares for Moms

Our team of Motherhood & Family Advocates provide pregnancy and child development resources for new and expectant parents from prenatal care through kindergarten. We're here to help answer your questions and provide useful pregnancy and parenting support when you need it most. Best of all, our resources and support services are completely free for all families. For more information about our specialized pregnancy and child development services, please call 856-431-4180.