Island Birth Association's board and members believe that women and families should be able to make fully informed decisions about their care.
Birth is not a one size fits all event. Every woman, every pregnancy, and every birth can be very different. And every woman and family will make decisions about their birth providers and birth places based on their own personal history and birth goals. Thankfully, even in the somewhat remote location here on Whidbey, we have a wide range of options. Below, we've broken down how each of these birth locations differs and the benefits each offers. On the back of this newsletter we have created comparison charts for our local hospital and out of hospital options.
The most common location for women to give birth, advantages of the hospital include immediate emergency care if needed, and round-the-clock care for mom and baby. Almost all insurance will cover hospital birth, and many women feel safest in this environment. Hospital birth is safest for high-risk pregnancies. Some disadvantages are that most hospital providers are more trained in pathology in birth rather than normal physiological birth, you must drive to the hospital while in labor, risk of infection to mom and baby is higher, you receive routine care, and most don’t allow mom much rest during the often required observation stay.
Birth centers are a wonderful alternative to those wanting more of a home environment without actually being at home. Birth centers are sometimes located close to or adjacent to hospitals, so transfer time can be minimal if needed. Advantages of a birth center birth include more freedom of choice (atmosphere, positions, interventions), and midwifery care. Birth centers are often less expensive than hospital births, though some insurances don’t cover the cost. Some disadvantages to a birth center birth are that you must drive to the birth center while in labor, and while a shorter stay (typically 3-4 hours postpartum) can be a benefit to some moms, it can be hard if you don’t have help at home.
While homebirth is still the least socially acceptable place to have a baby, it is increasing in popularity, and has been proven to be as safe or safer for low risk pregnancies. Women have full control over their birth experience, don’t have to drive anywhere in labor or afterward, and carries the least risk of infection to mom and baby of all birthing options. Washington midwives are licensed and carry emergency equipment such as oxygen and anti-hemorrhage medications. Some disadvantages include possibly being farther from a hospital if an emergency should arise, and though cost is typically lowest many insurances don’t cover birth at home.
Local Hospital Comparison Chart
Local Out of Hospital Comparison Chart
(Photo credits: Sweetpea Memories Photography, and Aly Willis Photography)