There is no single “Best Place to Have a Baby.” It’s all about finding the right place for you!
Research shows that labor will progress faster and be less painful if you feel safe and well cared for. So, choosing a birthplace where you are comfortable makes a big difference.
Research also shows that long-term satisfaction with the birth is increased when you have great support from your health care providers and feel respected by them. So, it’s important to look for a great match between you and your care provider: shared philosophy, goals, and expectations.
Take the Quiz
Your first step in choosing a care provider and birth place is to ask yourself what you want, and then look for the options that best match your wishes and your health care needs. Click on the link below to take our quiz, check your score, then come back to this page to interpret your results.
After you submit your answers and choose “view score” you’ll see something like this. Pay attention the first number… so where the example says “Total points 20/60”, the “score” is 20.
What does your score say about your preferences?
10 – 14: You may feel most comfortable at a large regional hospital, with an OB/Gyn as your care provider.
15 – 19: You may be most comfortable at a smaller community hospital with an OB or a family practice doctor as your care provider.
20 – 24: You may be most comfortable with a midwife as your care provider, either at a hospital or a birth center.
25 – 30: You may feel most comfortable with a midwife at an out-of-hospital birth.*
Other factors that affect your choice:
The quiz reveals clues about what you want in a birth place and care provider. But there are many other details to consider.
Level of care needed
A healthy person with few risk factors can usually choose any birth place that fits their preferences indicated in the quiz. However:
*Women with high-risk pregnancies aren’t good candidates for out-of-hospital birth, and may need a birth place that can provide a higher level of care. If your dream would be an undisturbed un-medicated birth with a midwife at home, but your health needs require an OB at a hospital, you can at least search for one who understands your wishes and tries to get you as close to that experience as possible.
Match of provider & facility
These two choices go hand-in-hand. Physicians typically only deliver at hospitals, so if you choose your doctor first, you are choosing by default to birth at the hospital where that doctor practices. If you choose your hospital first, you must choose amongst care providers who have privileges there.
Nurse midwives usually deliver at hospitals, though some attend out-of-hospital births. Licensed midwives attend at homes and at birth centers.
Insurance and cost
One of the first steps in your research should be to find out what your insurance will cover, or, if you will need to pay out of pocket, what the relative costs are of each option. Without insurance, home birth averages < $5000, birth centers $8000, hospitals $14,000 for an uncomplicated birth, more with complications. With insurance, find out what your out-of-pocket costs would be for each option based on your plan’s coverage.
We’ve all seen plenty of movies where there is a mad, desperate rush to get to the hospital before the baby comes. So, many families just pick the hospital closest to home so they can get there quickly in labor.
In reality, people typically have lots of time to get to their birthplace. The average first labor is 14 hours long, with the normal range being 3 to 36 hours.
That said, location is still an important factor to consider. It’s important to know how to recognize the signs of labor, and to plan for when in labor you will need to leave for your birth place. If you do choose a birthplace farther away from your home, be sure you know where the closest alternatives are, in case a rare emergency does arise.
To learn more about your options, see chapter 2 of our book Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn, or check out the resources at Childbirth Connection.