In the end, there are only two ways for baby to come out of you – spread eagle or by blade. But if you break it down, unless your baby is born in the woods or by accident in a moving vehicle, there are really only 7 ways to go through the process of giving birth. As you plan your own birth and write your birth plan, think about which of the 7 great ways to give birth best fits your values and lifestyle.
Sometimes your birth plan will change as your birth preferences change. Sometimes your plan must adapt to accommodate changes in your health or risk level. For example, if you move your home during your pregnancy, your birth plan may change to match the birthing laws or culture in the your new area.
For the most part, we get to decide which choices make us feel most comfortable and safe, how much we want others involved, and what matches our own cultural and personal preferences.
LET’S LOOK AT THE 7 WAYS TO GIVE BIRTH
- HOMEBIRTH, with support – Having your baby at home with a midwife (and often, doula) for support is the most common homebirth choice. Being at home allows you the greatest amount of personal freedom. You usually have to be low risk, but some midwives will do higher risk births, such as twins.
- HOMEBIRTH, unassisted – Some women and couples choose to give birth at home without assistance from a professional care provider. This type of birthing is also called unassisted childbirth (UC), freebirth, DIY (do it yourself) birth, or unhindered birth. There are varieties of unassisted childbirth: with friends and family present, with the couple alone, or the solo woman who chooses to bring baby into the world by herself. Advocates for this type of birth say it’s best because birth is a natural, not medical, process that everyone can do. The majority of care practitioners do not agree with this birth choice.
- FREE-STANDING BIRTH CENTER – Birth centers offer the advantage of personal freedom with immediate access to hospital technology, plus lower costs and fewer medical interventions. Women are free to eat, move around, sleep, use a tub, and push in whatever position works best. The family-centered atmosphere allows children or other family members to be there. With the growing trend in crowd birthing, birth centers offer an option that allows for multiple people in the birth room.
- HOSPITAL BIRTH, unmedicated – Often referred to as ‘natural’ birth, having an unmedicated birth means using your breath and mind instead of using pain medications to manage labor and delivery. Many celebrities, from super model Giselle Bundchen to Jessica Alba to the Duchess of Cambridge have given birth without pain medication – some chose the hospital, some were at home, and some chose birth centers. Many hospitals will do all they can to support your choice, but some hospitals will continuously offer medication to you throughout labor, in case you change your mind.
- HOSPITAL BIRTH, medicated – The most common type of birth in the US. Sometimes it’s planned and sometimes it’s the result of things that happen during labor. Having an epidural for pain is the most common medication women receive in labor. Sometimes women plan to have an unmedicated birth then decide during labor to use pain medications.
- C-SECTION, unplanned – Sometimes in labor, changes demand baby be born through Cesarean section. It can save a life or prevent serious injury, and is an important reason for changing your birth plans.
- C-SECTION, planned – A planned Cesarean birth is often scheduled for the convenience of mother or doctor, as long as baby has reached term (37 weeks). C-sections before term are done for medical reasons, although they may also be planned. This choice could be right for you if it makes sense for your lifestyle or if you’d rather not give birth vaginally.
When you write your birth plan, deciding where and how you want to give birth may depend on your health or lifestyle. Regardless of whether you choose a hospital, birthing center, or home, it makes sense to start a couple of months in advance to create a hospital bag checklist that reflects your personal choices.
Of course, no matter how you have your baby, every birth will likely be profound, intense, and surprising.
About the Author: Kim Walls is an award winning health advocate working with leading pregnancy experts and top baby friendly hospitals to provide birth plan advice and the #1 rated hospital bag checklist for expecting parents. Kim was named one of the “9 Wonder Women of the Natural Industry” by New Hope Media, and is a nationally recognized natural products expert. Her work has been featured in publications including Real Simple, Fit Pregnancy, Huffington Post, and on-air by the CBS Early Show and Good Morning America.
Published: December 3, 2015 | Reviewed by: Kim Walls, Natural Products Expert, Elizabeth Bachner, LM, CPM, L.Ac., Midwife | Last reviewed: December, 2015