Birth center versus hospital delivery

By Brittany Wagner

When it comes to how you want to welcome your baby into the world, you have a few options. Some moms are choosing to deliver their baby at a birth center, as an alternative to hospital delivery.

What Is a Birth Center?

A birth center may be an accredited facility where a woman can deliver her baby naturally. The Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers evaluates some of these facilities.

Birth centers generally give the feeling of a non-medical environment and are less clinical than a maternity suite at a hospital. Moms who want to have a non-interventive birth appreciate that experienced midwives are the primary providers at a birth center. 

Birth centers cannot offer epidurals or any pain-control medications. Instead, they may offer massages and breathing exercises to ease any pain. Most birth centers do not provide labor induction or IVs. They do offer intermittent fetal monitoring. Because of this, birth centers only take on women with low-risk pregnancies. 

Birth centers also provide services such as:

  • Screening for complications
  • Family planning and counseling
  • Well-woman exams
  • Breastfeeding classes
  • Postpartum care

Benefits of Giving Birth at a Hospital

Delivering your baby at a hospital ensures a higher level of care in the event that your pregnancy or labor becomes higher risk. Some women are transferred from their birthing center to a hospital in the event of a difficult delivery or because they choose to get an epidural. 

Hospitals are more able to efficiently respond to emergencies or surprises during delivery. Depending on your needs, your labor and delivery team may include:

  • Board-certified OB-GYNs
  • Board-certified neonatologists
  • Maternal-fetal medicine specialists
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Certified nurse midwives (CNMs)

When you give birth at a hospital, you will get comprehensive care from a team of specialists. Most birth centers will only have certified professional midwives (CPM) and licensed midwives (LM) on staff. Some birth centers consult with other specialists as needed, but those specialists are not on-hand for emergencies.

Labor and Delivery at University Hospital

University Hospital is equipped to handle even the most complicated births. As a Level IV Maternity Facility, we are capable of providing the highest level of family-centered care in the region.

Our team cares for women with high-risk and multiple pregnancies as well as low-risk pregnancies who wish to have the built-in safety of all needed specialists in case of an emergency.

We are also a Level IV Neonatal ICU, so if your little one needs extra attention, you can be sure he or she is in the most capable hands. We have experienced certified nurse midwives on staff who can offer a non-interventive/non-medical feel that a birth center offers with the ability to offer high level of care if your labor or pregnancy requires it.

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