“Oh, you had your baby at home? Yeah, we were gonna do that, but we wanted our baby to live.”
- Jim Gaffigan, Mr. Universe
Hormones flood your system. Your digestive system is on strike with each part protesting something different. You're exhausted, possibly bloated and nauseous, and may not want to explain why to your employer or friends yet.
I once described the first trimester of pregnancy as similar to having mono, but without the sore throat. The kissing disease, indeed. And just like in college, you have plenty of studying to do.
Because in addition to choosing your future child's favorite sports team and college major, you also have to decide the location in which your baby will exit the cozy mobile home that is your uterus. (Don't worry about the decor, newborns can only see about 8-12 inches away at birth!)
Almost 99% of U.S. births take place in hospital labor and delivery units, and physicians attend 86% of them. This is based on cultural norms, and probably on your health insurance coverage.
(Note: This would be a great time to review your maternity coverage to avoid dropping your newborn in shock and horror when you get your hospital bill. We were asked "cash or credit?" about 2 hours after I squeezed our son out of my body.)
Why most expecting mothers choose a hospital:
Some hospital birth statistics(*):
According to the American Association of Birth Centers, a birth center is "a home-like setting where care providers, usually midwives, provide family-centered care to healthy pregnant women." Though much less common than a hospital setting, they can be a great midpoint between a medical hospital environment and a home birth.
Some reasons women choose a birth center:
Some birth center statistics(*):
Fewer than 1% of American women choose to give birth at home (compared with around 2.5% in the UK and around 20% in the Netherlands). Statistics can be hard to come by since they are less common, and there is a difference between a planned home birth and an unplanned one (baby arrives quickly, for example).
Some reasons women choose home birth:
Well that's a lot of math, isn't it?
How is a hormonal, exhausted, overwhelmed mama to choose? Especially when they like to throw around statistics involving death.
Whatever you decide, know this:
You can absolutely have a beautiful, peaceful natural childbirth experience at a hospital, or birth center, or at home. You can absolutely have a beautiful, peaceful childbirth with an epidural. You can even have a beautiful, peaceful Cesarean birth.
If you feel drawn toward a birth center or home birth but are nervous, tour/interview the facility/midwives. You can always opt for the hospital anyway.
More about birth plans next time. Happy gestating!