What’s the difference between hospital and home birth?

There are so many things considered when a family is thinking about a home birth vs a hospital birth. Most people feel more comfortable discussing hospital births because it may be considered the “norm”. This is changing somewhat as people have more resources regarding home birth, and it truly becomes an option. How is a hospital birth different than a home birth is the most asked question from prospective clients.

While what happens during birth at both locations varies greatly, there are pros and cons for both hospital and home birth.
Hospitals have strict policies, protocols and procedures that they must follow. This means the patient has care dictated to them and little to no choice in treatment care. Hospitals also have a high cesarean section rate. However, pain medication is readily available for those who desire it and if complications should arise, you have immediate medical assistance.

Home birth offers you individualized education, counseling and prenatal care and continuous hands-on assistance during labor, delivery and postpartum. Women who give birth at home most often enjoy the experience. The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce incidence of birth injury, trauma and cesarean section; however, in the case of an emergency, there will be a delay in and your baby receiving care while in transit to the nearest hospital.
There are statistics available for both home and hospital birth and while they can be helpful and part of the equation, what’s most important to families making decisions about where to give birth is what is safest for each individual woman, her baby, and their unique circumstances.

What happens if a home birth is chosen and there are problems during the pregnancy? I only accept into my care healthy, low-risk women therefore problems at a homebirth, while they can happen, are uncommon. The most common reason to transport to the hospital is due to a lack of progress in labor after having tried all other modalities at home and mom is becoming exhausted or her baby is showing signs of not tolerating labor well. This can be related to many issues but occurs more often in first time labors. If there is a true emergency, 911 is called and we initiate transport to the closest hospital with adequate equipment and staff for the situation. We would then continue with emergency treatment appropriate for the situation until we are able to turn over care to the medical providers. We are required to keep current in CPR and NRP (neonatal resuscitation) and we also carry O2 and well as other medications that can help stop excessive bleeding after birth.