Questions to Consider When Choosing a Birthing Location

by the Wiser Pregnancy team

questionThe time comes where you have to decide where you want to give birth. There are a lot of things to consider. Choosing a birthing location can be scary, time-consuming, and stressful. Here are a number of questions to make it easier for you to decide. Bring this list with you to your doctor or healthcare provider so they can help you make the best decision for you and your baby's needs:


• Is the hospital or birthing clinic close to my home?

• How long will it take me to get there during rush hour or in bad weather?

• Is the building designed so my partner and I can quickly and easily enter the building if I am in labor?

• What is the standard procedure when a woman in labor arrives?


• What percentage of the costs will my insurance or HMO cover?

• What are the payment terms for the costs that fall on me?

• Does the hospital or clinic have a written list of its services and fees?

• Is parking free? If not, how much is parking per day?

Capabilities and Policies

• Does the hospital or clinic specialize in low-risk or high-risk births?

• Is there a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in case my baby has a serious problem?

• Do I like the atmosphere of the labor and delivery rooms?

• Can my baby stay with me in my room, or does the hospital require my baby to stay in the nursery, even if it is healthy?

• Does the hospital have a birthing room or suite that allows me to be in labor, give birth and recover in the same room, or will I have to be moved from one room to another?

• What features does the birthing or hospital room have? Are there birth balls, squat bars, birthing chairs, or whirlpools or tubs for women in labor?

• What percentage of women have Cesarean births, epidurals or labor induction versus natural births? Are natural births common and supported?

• Are there routine pre-delivery practices (e.g., shaving pubic hair)?

• What if I do not want medication or intervention? Will I have a choice if a healthcare provider recommends intervention or medication?

• Will my partner be able to stay with me at all times, even in the operating room if I have a C-section?

• How many other people can be with me during delivery?

• Can my other children attend the birth?

• Is videotaping allowed during the birth?

• What resources and information are available at the hospital for new mothers and their families? Is there a class to help me learn how to care for my new baby?

• Will I have a private room, or is it likely that I will share a room after giving birth?

• Can my partner stay with me in the room at night? Are there any sleeping arrangements available at the hospital or clinic for my partner?

• When can my friends and family visit? Can children visit?

Doctors and Staff

• What is the nurse to patient ratio? (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that 1 nurse per 2 women during early labor is appropriate, while one nurse per woman at the pushing stage of labor is ideal.)

• Is there an anesthesiologist on duty at all times, or is one on call? How long will I have to wait if I have an emergency or need pain relief?

• Is the hospital a teaching hospital? Will a resident or intern attend my birth? Do I have any say about people I do not know attending my birth?

• If I want a primary care physician or certified nurse midwife to deliver my baby, is there an obstetrician or perinatologist on site or on call in case something goes wrong?

• Is there a lactation consultant on staff with whom I can meet?

These questions are based on research published by publicly available and private medical information sources on the topic.

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