Birthing centers give moms-to-be a labor experience different than that of a hospital. The emphasis is on a natural birth. They can be attached to a hospital or on a separate site. Some hospitals have a birthing center facility in the maternity unit. Since the majority of women give birth without needing medical intervention, these centers provide a good alternative to a more medicalized hospital environment. The environment in a birthing center tends to be more relaxed and flexible than a hospital environment. You'll have continuous support from a combination of labor nurses and midwives. Your doctor may also be affiliated with a birthing center. Furthermore, the medical team in these centers is very experienced at handling a birth without medical intervention. All of these factors therefore increase your chances of having a straightforward birth. To be give birth in such a center, you need to have had an uncomplicated pregnancy and be unlikely to require specialized medical care or monitoring in labor and birth. If complications did occur, you would be transferred to the closest hospital, although this is rare.
The prospect of sleeping in your own bed and being taken care of by people who love you are reason enough to opt for a home birth. It's natural to feel less inhibited at home, and you may be more inclined to move around more and for longer, be as vocal as you like, use gravity, and try different birthing positions, all of which can make labor and delivery shorter and easier. Your midwife will explain what's involved, so seek her advice. On the big day be flexible: you may want to head for the hospital.
There is nothing more wonderful or miraculous than the birth of a baby, and it's natural to want your older children to be present and witness it for themselves. However, do consider this carefully before you give them the go-ahead. For one thing, even the easiest of labors are painful, and young children will be distressed to see mom in pain. What's more, they may be slightly daunted to see their new sibling emerging from your body, probably covered with various substances. Having said that, many kids handle the experience well if they know what to expect, so outline everything, and explain that any cries, shrieks, or swearing on your behalf are necessary to help get the baby out. You could also mention that you may cry or even vomit, just so they are prepared. Let them know to expect some blood, and that baby will be attached to a (rather gruesome!) cord. If they're squeamish, get them to position themselves by your head, or bring them in immediately after.
Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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