The Pros and Cons to Home Birth

By Maria T. Pepin

As you prepare for birth, one of the choices you will need to make is where to deliver your baby. Women can choose between a hospital, birthing center or the comfort of their own home. It’s a good idea to research each option in advance and make an informed decision. Interestingly, around 16,000 women each year choose to have their baby at home. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this approach.  

Home Birth Pros

  • Freedom to control your own birth experience. You can set up your surroundings in a way that you are most comfortable. Some women prefer a water birth or the use of aromatherapies and candles.
  • There is little to no intervention in a homebirth- whether it is having your water broken, electronic fetal monitoring, medication or episiotomies. This is important because once medical intervention is initiated, further intervention will likely be necessary.
  • You have the lowest chance for a C-section at home.
  • There is no huge hospital fee to deal with. A midwife’s fee is usually much less than a physician’s fee.
  • Familiarity of the environment.  You will be more relaxed in the comfort of your own home, which can help ease labor. It is also more private.
  • You have the freedom to eat, drink and move around as much as you’d like. If you check into a hospital, you are only permitted ice chips or popsicles until after the baby is born.
  • You have the lowest risk of infection at home. Hospitals do everything they can to maintain clean wards and control cross-infection, but you are more likely to pick up an infection in that environment given the sheer number of people moving in and out.
  • You can have visitors stop by whenever you’d like, day or night. 

Home Birth Cons

  • Not all insurance policies will cover homebirth expenses.
  • There is no epidural analgesia or pain relief available at home if you are struggling with the labor pains.
  • You will need to be prepared for the messiness of delivery. Make sure you have plastic sheets, plenty of towels, etc. ready to go.
  • Filing for your baby’s birth certificate is now your responsibility, however some midwives will do it for you.
  • Complications can result if your midwife or caregiver is unsure what to do in an emergency situation. Selecting an experienced birthing team is absolutely crucial.
  • If there is an emergency, there will be a delay in receiving care while you travel to the nearest hospital.
  • You will need to arrange for your own postpartum help.

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5 comments

By PurpleTurtle on 02/28/11 at 10:13 am

Chuckle. There is pain relief in a home birth. It is often milder, not heavy drugs that pass the placental barrier and can negatively impact baby as alm  ...

By Sailor Aoki on 07/14/10 at 10:26 pm

"There is no epidural analgesia or pain relief available at home if you are struggling with the labor pains."

When I read this I officially decid  ...

By Labor Maiden on 12/01/09 at 9:01 pm

I have experienced both... Home first then hospital... I was truly overwhelmed with the lack of emotional care and attention after feeling so surrounde  ...

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