Thinking about childbirth settings? What to consider for home vs. hospital birth
When you’re expecting, each day brings you closer to the moment you see your newborn face-to-face. You’re sure to have countless questions about childbirth and adding to your family. How much does it cost to give birth? What labor and delivery bills can I expect? How does home birth compare to hospital birth? What does a midwife do?
Before labor pains tell you, “It’s go time!” investigate home birth versus hospital birth to see what might be best for you and how to budget for a new baby.
“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.”
The joys and pains of pregnancy foreshadow the adventures of Christian family life. As prudent parents, you’ll plan your course and pray about your choices, but it’s good to know that the Lord directs your steps (Proverb 16:9). His hand guides expected and unexpected details.
Just ask Joseph! His best-laid plans to give Mary a safe place to give birth were continually – like a GPS after a wrong turn – “recalculating.”
Christ wasn’t born in a home, a castle, or even a room at the Inn, but in a stable and placed in a feed trough – that would symbolize faithful humility and spiritual food. Angelic lights and a traveling star, not any human’s “perfect” plan, showed Joseph, Mary, lowborn shepherds, and highborn wise men the way.
You can trust the One who knits your child in the womb (Psalm 139:13) to do the same for you.
How much does it cost to give birth?
Faith-based parenthood starts with prayerful planning, stewardship, and counsel. (Proverbs 15:22) You’ll need to investigate local labor and delivery costs and whether a home birth, hospital birth, or other options are best. Prenatal costs can range from $1,700 to $3,000, and facilities can charge from $1,189 to $11,986. The median cost is $4,215, which varies depending on:
- Your state
- Location (home, hospital, or birthing center)
- Type of hospital (public, private-nonprofit, urban or rural)
- Hospital’s practices, policies, and volume of high-risk deliveries
- C-section or vaginal birth
- Anticipated medical expenses and complication risks
In addition to room and board costs for hospital stays, labor and delivery bills itemize:
- Services of obstetrician/gynecologist, anesthesiologist, pediatrician, and others
- Epidural, if used
- Medications and medical supplies
Call nearby hospitals and birthing centers for details. Most provide tours, information, pricing, and referrals to financial counselors or other professionals. You can also ask other parents about their experiences.
“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.” – John 16:21 (NIV)
Home and home-away-from-home options
Childbirth settings may include a home, hospital, or birth center — a healthcare facility focused on pregnancy and childbirth. Birth centers are usually in or near a hospital for access to medical interventions or emergency care if needed. Most welcome family involvement.
Wherever you give birth, board-certified midwives may assist. They may be certified nurse-midwives or certified midwives with special training and a bachelor’s degree or higher.
What does a midwife do?
Midwives deliver babies and guide you throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery, and after birth. Services may include prenatal exams and testing, education about childbirth, breastfeeding, diet, exercise, medications, and health. Midwives refer to doctors or other specialists as needed. They may be appropriate if you’re in good health with no known risk of complications.
According to the ACOG, about 35,000 home births occur yearly. About 25% are unplanned. ACOG experts consider home births unsafe if a midwife or obstetrician isn’t present.
Reasons for choosing home birth include:
- Relaxed setting with the comforts of home
- Choice of birthing positions and other preferences
- No established time limits for labor
- Privacy and control over pregnancy and childbirth experiences
- Lower likelihood of interventions that may not be necessary, such as induced labor, C-section, or excessive fetal monitoring
- May cost less
Home birth may not be appropriate if you have:
- Pre-existing conditions
- Past pregnancy complications
- Carrying multiple babies
- Baby is not in a head-down position
- Unlikely to go into labor spontaneously at term
- Obesity, age, or a past C-section
If you give birth at home and an emergency arises, you’ll need an ambulance to take you to a hospital.
Benefits of hospital birth include:
- A specialized team of nurses, OB/GYN, pediatricians, and other specialists are on hand, 24/7
- Advanced neonatal care
- Fast access to many specialized services for baby or mom
Potential drawbacks of hospital birth include:
- Need to travel to the hospital
- Limited choice for preferences, such as birthing positions
- Standard hospital bed and ambiance may be less comforting
- Some hospitals encourage medical interventions sooner than you’d like
- The requirement to stay overnight or longer
- Less personal choices about treatment options
- Medical costs may be higher, even for an uncomplicated birth
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