Hospital? Home? Birth Center? Get the rundown on the pros and cons of each, and decide what’s right for you.

Women have babies safely in all kinds of settings. What turns out to be the right choice for one family may not be right for another. Which choice is the right one for you? Here are some of the main pros and cons for each setting to help you decide.

Keep in mind that each hospital, birth center, doctor, and midwife will have different practices and approaches. To find out what the usual practice is, and what your options are, at the place of birth you’re considering, ask! See our pages on choosing a caregiver and questions to ask your caregiver. Your doula can help you with all of this!

Hospital Positive

Hospital Negative

Immediate access to medical care for mother and baby in case of emergency

Immediate access to drugs for pain relief

The mother may feel safer in a hospital

Costs most likely to be covered by insurance

More likely to have routine interventions during labor and birth

Increased risk of mother or baby picking up an infection

The mother may feel anxious in a hospital environment

Birth Center Positive

Birth Center Negative

May be closely affiliated with a hospital that can offer very fast access to medical care for mother and baby in case of emergency (this varies)

Easy access to drugs for pain relief

May have a more “homey,” less clinical atmosphere than a hospital

The mother may feel safer at a birth center

Some birth centers may not offer access to all forms of medical pain relief

Some birth centers may have high rates of routine intervention, similar to many hospitals

May not be appropriate for high-risk conditions

Costs may not be covered by insurance

Home Positive

Home Negative

Medically proven to be as safe or safer than birth in hospital, for most women

The mother is familiar with her environment and has complete privacy and control

The mother may feel safer at home

No need to travel in labor or after the birth

Lowest risk of infection

Lowest risk of routine interventions

Birth attendants have to travel to you

Limited access to drugs for labor

Mother or other family members may feel anxious about home birth

May not be appropriate for high-risk conditions

Mother must travel in the event of serious complications

Costs may not be covered by insurance