Home Birth vs Birthing Center — The Bump
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Home Birth vs Birthing Center

Hi everyone! I don't normally post here because we are not KU yet (hopefully this is our cycle!) but I was hoping you ladies would be able to answer a question for me.

DH and I are hoping to go with a home birth provided our pregnancy is low risk. MIL brought up birthing centers and said 'she would be more comfortable with that'. Not that it is her decision, but we said we would look into it.

 What are the benefits of a birthing center versus a home birth? What is available at a birthing center that is not available with a MW at home? Our home is only about 2 miles away from the hospital, and is actually closer than any birthing center we've found.

Re: Home Birth vs Birthing Center

  • I honestly can not think of any major differences. We are having a birth center birth and this choice was made because this is what DH was most comfortable with but if he was OK with it I would have chosen a home birth. I guess other benefits may depend on insurance. Our insurance pays 100% for our birth center birth but would not have covered a home birth. I also like the idea of coming home to a clean home instead of having to clean up whatever mess was made in the home from our birth. Additionally our birth center has a huge jacuzzi I can labor in. We don't have that option at home. 

    I think if you want a home birth and your dh is comfortable with it go with it! No offense to your MIL but who cares what she is more comfortable with its not her baby or her body.  

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  • I'm not sure how much this'll mean to you but I know someone with 3 kids, and she's had a hospital birth, a home birth, and a birth centre birth. For whatever reason, she said she preferred the birth centre birth by far. With her home birth she had rented a big birthing pool, labored in the comfort of her home, went straight to her own bed afterwards, and the midwives cleaned up all the mess and then some (I think they did dishes or some chores). Sounds pretty good to me!?

    I don't really know what other differences there would be, or why she thought the birth centre was better, but maybe find a birth centre that looks good to you, and go for a tour and ask them what the benefits (in general and over home birth) might be. Then at least you'll have an idea. However, if you and your DH want a home birth then your MIL can just deal!?

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  • The poster above made a lot of the points I was going to make. Reasons we went with a birth center instead of home birth...

    1. Insurance covered the midwife and birth center, not quite as easy to get insurance to cover home birth.

    2. Birth center has a big, nice jacuzzi tub.

    3. No clean-up afterwards, and no preparation of the house needed on our part. Can just go home to our clean house.

    4. Birth center is closer to the hospital than us.

    Those were just the biggies for us...but do what feels right for YOU! 

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  • A birth center should have most of the medical equipment of a hospital/NICU and transport should be smooth if it becomes necessary.  In some cases medical doctors are available and come to the patient rather than transporting to a hospital.   A midwife at a home birth will have many of the medical instruments/drugs, but not all.  There would be more people to assist in an emergency in a birth center.  Insurance will likely cover a birth center but not a home birth.


  • image AprilCachet:

    I honestly can not think of any major differences. We are having a birth center birth and this choice was made because this is what DH was most comfortable with but if he was OK with it I would have chosen a home birth. I guess other benefits may depend on insurance. Our insurance pays 100% for our birth center birth but would not have covered a home birth. I also like the idea of coming home to a clean home instead of having to clean up whatever mess was made in the home from our birth. Additionally our birth center has a huge jacuzzi I can labor in. We don't have that option at home. 

    I think if you want a home birth and your dh is comfortable with it go with it! No offense to your MIL but who cares what she is more comfortable with its not her baby or her body.  

    pretty much everything here.  we are doing BC.

  • image dsm111509:

    MIL brought up birthing centers and said 'she would be more comfortable with that'. Not that it is her decision, but we said we would look into it.

    I'm sorry - this made me laugh.  You're right, it's NOT her decision.

    Anyway, we had DD at home.  DH was initially against it.  We compromised and decided to use the birth center.  Then he came with me to an appt at about 20 weeks, and asked the midwife about the difference between homebirth and their birth center.  She convinced him that the only differences were 1) the birth center has a jacuzzi and 2) if you're at home, you get to be in your own environment and don't have to leave after the baby is born.  On the way home from that appt, DH told me I could have my homebirth if I wanted.

    I don't know about the birth center in your area, but if it's like mine, it doesn't have any extra stuff that the midwives don't bring to your house.  It's not any "safer" than a home birth in that respect.  People who aren't into midwife-assisted birth tend to look at it as more "official" than home, since it's a place lots of people give birth, but it's not like you would get a c-section at the birth center if something went wrong.  Either way, you'd be going to the hospital.

  • image BostonGayGal:

    A birth center should have most of the medical equipment of a hospital/NICU and transport should be smooth if it becomes necessary.  In some cases medical doctors are available and come to the patient rather than transporting to a hospital.   A midwife at a home birth will have many of the medical instruments/drugs, but not all.  There would be more people to assist in an emergency in a birth center.  Insurance will likely cover a birth center but not a home birth.


    None of this was true in our case.  I think you're talking about the type of birth center that is affiliated with a hospital.  In the case of a freestanding birth center, what I've described in my post above is more the norm.  There was nothing at the birth center, besides the jacuzzi, that the midwife did not bring to our home.  We even had an oxygen tank.  And there would not have been more people to assist unless the birth occurred during business hours.  If you give birth outside their normal operating hours, only you, your birth assistant and your midwife will be present at the birth center in our area.  Our insurance also fully covered our home birth.  

  • iris427iris427
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 250 Answers 500 Love Its
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    There is no major difference.  A birth center is pretty much equipped the way a home birth would be.  There are no ORs or anything like that.

    The reason people feel more comfortable with birth centers is because in our society we have been trained to think that you have to GO somewhere to give birth or it's unsafe.  And a lot of people don't really know anything about birth centers, so they assume that they are like hospitals. 

    Just like in a home birth, if there are any complications requiring the resources of a hospital, you will transfer to a hospital.

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  • iris427iris427
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 250 Answers 500 Love Its
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    image AprilCachet:

    I think if you want a home birth and your dh is comfortable with it go with it! No offense to your MIL but who cares what she is more comfortable with its not her baby or her body.  

    ITA.  This is really important.  Your mother in law does not get a say here.  Let me tell you that this is only the beginning of people trying to butt in and tell you how to parent.  Learn to stand your ground now and your life will be much easier.  Because once that baby is born and you are an insecure new mom, people are going to be all in your face telling you what you are doing wrong and it is going to be really hurtful if you let it get to you.

    I speak from experience because my MIL was like this and I really let it eat at me during my daughter's first months. 

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  • Thank you so much for the responses!

    Florida law mandates that insurance companies cover midwife assisted home births, so insurance is not an issue. We are closer than the birth centers to the hospital, and we plan on renting a birthing tub so cleanup should be minimal and performed by our MW.

    Looks like a home birth is going to be the best option for us. Smile 

  • image mh2t:
    image BostonGayGal:

    A birth center should have most of the medical equipment of a hospital/NICU and transport should be smooth if it becomes necessary.  In some cases medical doctors are available and come to the patient rather than transporting to a hospital.   A midwife at a home birth will have many of the medical instruments/drugs, but not all.  There would be more people to assist in an emergency in a birth center.  Insurance will likely cover a birth center but not a home birth.


    None of this was true in our case.  I think you're talking about the type of birth center that is affiliated with a hospital.  In the case of a freestanding birth center, what I've described in my post above is more the norm.  There was nothing at the birth center, besides the jacuzzi, that the midwife did not bring to our home.  We even had an oxygen tank.  And there would not have been more people to assist unless the birth occurred during business hours.  If you give birth outside their normal operating hours, only you, your birth assistant and your midwife will be present at the birth center in our area.  Our insurance also fully covered our home birth.  

    I agree with this!  I delivered with the same MW's.  The only difference for us was that the hospital would have been a tad bit closer from the birth center than our home, but not so much of a difference to sway us to go to the birth center.  DH was concerned at first, but for us, the equipment and the staffing would be identical whether we were at home or at the birth center.  And quite honestly, my water broke and BOOM!  I was in active labor immediately...I would never have wanted to make that car ride to the birth center.  I was so happy that after a couple of phone calls, I had a birth assistant, a midwife and a midwifery student in my home listening to my baby's heartbeat and catering to what I needed and wanted to have my baby.  It was awesome!  I think you know exactly where you belong ;-)

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  • flyer23flyer23
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    pp's have covered most of the main points. I just wanted to add that there was no cleanup from my homebirth. The midwives handled it all. Actually, I "came home" to a cleaner house than if we'd gone to a BC or hospital, because we spent time before the birth cleaning up to make the place presentable for the folks who descended on our home during the birth Wink

    My midwife (who attends both homebirths and BC births) calls BC births "homebirth in someone else's home," and I think that sums it up pretty well. No differences as far as the attendants, the equipment, etc. The main reason I would consider BC birth is if I lived so far from a hospital that I could not safely transfer in case of an emergency during a homebirth.

    I find that most people who suggest BC birth over homebirth are not really familiar with either option -- they think that BC birth is safer, when really, it's just as safe/unsafe (depending on how you look at it!)

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  • I had #1 at a birthcenter because I wasn't entirely comfortable with a home birth (and DH wasn't at all) and in our state the birth centers have to be close to a hospital.  The car ride there (15 min) was excruciating!  #2 will be at home because it will just be so much easier!!  (that and we barely made it to the birth center, so I don't want to chance that again)  There is no safety difference between a home & birth center birth.  And both are safer (for low risk pregnancies) than a hospital.
  • I dont know where in FL you live but if you live in Jax, Fruitful Vine is wonderful. I had my son at the center but if we were to have a second, I would have a homebirth in a skinny minute. I loved the center but could do without the car ride. (both to and from) Afterwards, I just wanted to go to sleep and snuggle in but I had to get dressed and get in the car to come home. 

    One thing to be mindful of is the transfer hospital. The BC has it's set of back up OBs but they do not practice at the hospital that is closest to me. I would have had to drive 25-30 minutes instead of 10 for a transfer or risk whoever was on call at the closer one.

     GL! 

  • image flyer23:

    I find that most people who suggest BC birth over homebirth are not really familiar with either option -- they think that BC birth is safer, when really, it's just as safe/unsafe (depending on how you look at it!)

     

     OP- most of what I would say was already covered.  One thing I would consider is that not all birth centers are made the same.   If you are looking at hospital associated birth centers you have to consider that they are regulated by the associated hospital and are mandated to follow their policies.  For me these policies would have meant a transfer that would have led to an unnecessary c-section, where at home I just had my baby.

    I will also add that I rented an Aqua Doula and had a water birth at home- no need to go to a birth center for the tub.  Also, I didn't do any cleaning- my MW left my house cleaner than it was when they arrived.  

    Finally I will say that my insurance didn't cover my homebirth, but the cost of my homebirth (total care including pregnancy, birth and PP care) was only a couple hundred more than the deductible I would have had to pay for a hospital/birth center.  For me it was worth the extra $.  



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  • image mh2t:
    image BostonGayGal:

    A birth center should have most of the medical equipment of a hospital/NICU and transport should be smooth if it becomes necessary.  In some cases medical doctors are available and come to the patient rather than transporting to a hospital.   A midwife at a home birth will have many of the medical instruments/drugs, but not all.  There would be more people to assist in an emergency in a birth center.  Insurance will likely cover a birth center but not a home birth.


    None of this was true in our case.  I think you're talking about the type of birth center that is affiliated with a hospital.  In the case of a freestanding birth center, what I've described in my post above is more the norm.  There was nothing at the birth center, besides the jacuzzi, that the midwife did not bring to our home.  We even had an oxygen tank.  And there would not have been more people to assist unless the birth occurred during business hours.  If you give birth outside their normal operating hours, only you, your birth assistant and your midwife will be present at the birth center in our area.  Our insurance also fully covered our home birth.  

    Same here.  My BC is not affiliated with a hospital.  I would be transported by ambulance to a hospital that is 7 minutes away if anything should arise.  MWs attending a HB would have the same equipment available at my BC.  I like the idea of a birth center because my house is tiny, doesn't have a/c, the neighbors are ::thisclose::, etc. etc.  

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  • I'm using a birth center as opposed to my home. I like the center, it's about 10 minutes away and only 3 minutes from the hospital. The suites are huge (my house isn't) plus I don't want to deal with my pugs (they get hyper with visitors) and anyone else coming into my home thank you very much Smile

    I attended my friends birth at the same birth center and also her home birth last summer and the birth center birth was MUCH more appealing to me. But again, it was the crowd she had at her house. The portable tub that was BIG. I don't know, I didn't care for the vibe nearly as much but that's just me.

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  • well, since your MIL isn't having the baby....  :)

    we chose homebirth for our family.

    - i did not want to leave the comforts of my home. i wanted to labor at home, i did not want to have my baby born somewhere foreign to my family. i did not want to have to get up and go somewhere after birth.

    - my birthcenter MWs brought the same equipment to my home.

    - my MWs cleaned all birth "stuff," did dishes, and made me something to eat. (i ended up needing to go to the hosptial, but when we came home, they had cleaned the house, standard).

    - i thought my labor would progress more smoothly b/c i would be most comfortable in my own home.

    - insurance covered the same way b/c the MWs work both at the birthcetner or at your home. with baby #2, i have a homebirth only CPM and insurance only covers 20%. but, worth the extra cost to me.

    for me, homebirth was the first option. my siblings were born at home (while i watched) and it's what i knew growing up. i find it safer (the same argument about having antibodies to germs found in ones' own home but not the ones in a hospital applies to a birthing center as well) and more convenient.

     

     

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  • Just to further encourage you, the only  reason I'm going with a BC instead of home is distance to the hospital. Our house is at least 25 minutes from a hospital, vs the birth center which is 5. That's it. Since your home is 2 minutes from one, that's a pretty great location.
  • we are doing a birth center because we live way out in the sticks and the closest hospital is 35 minutes away.

    it would be a tough decision if there was a closer hospital though - I would worry about clean up, and it's actually hard to find a certified nurse midwife here to do a home birth. There are a a lot of lay midwives, but I am not sure I would be comfortable with that. 

    At the center, we are 2 minutes away from an excellent hospital (as opposed to the average ones around here) and we have the MW and a NP with us the whole time. 

    They also come out to our house on day 1 and day 3 of being home to check up on us, and do weekly breastfeeding calls to see how we are doing. I'm not sure what type of follow up care is included with a home birth - I'm sure it's dependent on the mw? 

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  • You seem to have made a decision already, and others have pretty much covered the pros and cons, but I just wanted to throw in another vote for homebirth. We started out planning a birth center birth, but I changed my mind about halfway and switched to a homebirth midwife. I'm SO glad I did. I remember thinking about 100 times before, during, and after the birth how glad I was to be home and not in a birth center.

     Not only was my hb midwife less strict about time limits (had a 65-hour labor and the birth center would have required me to transfer, which would almost certainly have led to a c-section), but it was just more comfortable in my own surroundings. I had my own snacks, my own bed, my own shower, etc. And we borrowed an inflatable birth tub (Birth Pool In a Box--awesome) from the midwife, which was perfect to labor in. 

    For me, the time after birth was the strongest argument for a hb. As soon as the midwife checked the baby over and made sure I was ok, they left, and we were able to start our lives as a new family. We all cuddled on the bed together, then DH ran out to get us some fast food, I hopped in my own shower, and then that evening (Henry was born at 3:35pm) I went on Skype to show him off to other family members. Having him at home really made birth seem like a natural, normal part of life, and that was really a great feeling.  

     It might make others more comfortable for you to go somewhere else to give birth, but personally I can't see any real advantages to going to a birth center. My midwife handled absolutely all the clean-up (even started laundry before she left), so that's certainly nothing to worry about. I'm sure you'll be happy with your choice to have the baby at home--it was the coolest experience of my life. 

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