Birth Location Debate

I really enjoyed our debate on the very controversial issue of where women should give birth.  I feel that the birthing center has the strongest argument as the ‘best of both worlds’ as far as having aspects of both hospital and home birth, in both developed and undeveloped countries. In birthing centers, there are certified midwifes who not only can manage many complications, but can also provide the support and confidence that women need – thus providing holistic care.  A birthing center can have a ‘home-y’ feel where women can experience childbirth as an emotionally and culturally meaningful life experience like they would at home, rather than in a place associated with sickness.  In addition, giving birth in the hospital costs a lot of money, introduces infants to many pathogens, and results in far more interventions than are needed, which has negative effects on both the mother and infant.  The birthing center can eliminate all of these negatives, while also having a referral plan to transfer women to a hospital if a rare but serious complication should occur. New Zealand has a beautiful model of culturally-appropriate midwifery care in birthing centers that is extremely effective (Smythe, 2014), and I think it would behoove the rest of the world to follow their example. In undeveloped countries—where choice may be an ‘illusion’ as hospitals are far away, understaffed, or lacking equipment—it is all the more essential that more birthing centers are constructed.  In the US, as more birthing centers are being established, the public also needs to be more educated in an unbiased manner on all the different options out there for birth.

Symthe, L., Payne, D., Wilson, S., Wynyard S. (2014). Providing a safe space for birth in
Warkworth, New Zealand. In White R. (Ed.), Global Case Studies in Maternal and Child Health (pp. 187-208). Seattle: Ascend Learning Company.

One thought on “Birth Location Debate

  1. Valerie, I completely agree and I’m glad I was able to debate on behalf of birth centers in class! 🙂 I believe birth centers will only have the best of both worlds if the referral hospital is located at a safe proximity to the birth center or if the birth center has an obstetrician on staff. Also, the birth center must allow the mother’s entire support system to be present in order for her to feel as socially comfortable and relaxed as she would feel at home.

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