Thankful we have multiple birth options

 Thankful for birth optionsHow would you like to give birth in a big ole' room with 12 other women (also in labor) with zero privacy -- not even a curtain-bearin' it all (literally) for the rest of the room to see? That's what happens in most third-world countries. When my friend, who lives in Malawi, shared that with me, I was surprised and thankful. I thought about women giving birth here in the United States. Aside from the random, elevator, parking lot, taxi cab, births that we hear about on the news, we have options as to where we'll give birth. You could give birth in a birth center: The comforts of home with the proximity of doctors or hospitals. That's pretty sweet. Or there's the home birth: An option that is gaining momentum as mamas everywhere are realizing that for low risk pregnancies, a home birth is another avenue- not just reserved for tree huggin' hippies. The hospital: Where private rooms are the norm are available to any and everyone.

Let's check out all three, shall we?

Birth centers: Some of them are pretty darn swanky, bearing a closer resemblance to bed and breakfasts than a labor and delivery room. Birth centers come in many shapes and sizes. Some are freestanding houses, or buildings. Others are attached to hospitals. Some have midwives attending, some have OB/GYNS who catch the babies. There is one common denominator though- letting birth happen without interrupting it, unless absolutely necessary. Oh and you won't be using drugs if you give birth in a birth center. The New England Journal of Medicine studied 11,814 women, who gave birth in birth centers across the country. Their study of these women and their babies concluded that for low risk women, birth centers offer a safe, alternate option for giving birth. Home birth: As stated above, home births are not just for the tree huggin, patchouli wearin' hippies of our day. More and more women are embracing the idea of giving birth in the comfortable surroundings of home. Home births offer more than comfort though -- they offer flexibility and include skilled providers such as a midwife (some OB/GYNS also do home births). These skilled providers are armed with equipment like dopplers, oxygen for mama and baby, blood pressure cuffs and Pitocin. They have incredible knowledge about how a mama's body works to birth her baby but also medical knowledge as well, should they run into issues along the way. A skilled provider will know when the situation requires care above what they can safely provide and will transfer their mama to the hospital. When comparing low risk hospital births with low risk home births, research concludes that they are a safe option. Hospital birth: This is the option that most of us are familiar with (and may think IS the only option). When selecting your provider, it's important to determine which hospital they have privileges at (ie where they catch those babies), because not all hospitals are created equal. If you want to avoid a c-section, for example, giving birth at a hospital with a low c-section rate (like 10 percent) would be optimal. We are blessed that we live in a country where we have incredible options for birth. Even though it's daunting sometimes to sort through the options and figure out what is best for us and our babies, look at it as a gift -- a gift that many mamas (in other countries) would love to have. Sarah BlightGet a FREE chapter of Sarah's new book "Going to the Motherland" by clicking here (ALL 5 star reviews from other moms on Amazon…you'll love it!). In addition to being an author, Sarah is the founder of She is the mama of a spunky, 3-year-old son and a not-so-sleepy 3-month-old daughter. Sarah loves helping expectant moms learn what experienced moms and leading experts have learned about pregnancy and birth. In her spare time (insert sarcasm), Sarah enjoys naps.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto. © November 20, 2012 Sarah Blight. All rights reserved.