Have you ever wondered how hospital births compare to a birth center birth? Fortunately for you, I have experienced both and would like to share the major differences to provide you with the best birth options for you.
My Family Birth Center
Throughout my prenatal care at My Family Birth Center, I always felt welcomed. I would check in, sit down, and within minutes the midwives would be ready to see me. I never felt rushed during my appointments, and the midwives answered any and all questions I had.
During my appointments, the midwives would examine me, see how the baby was growing, and then they would ask me how I was doing. They weren’t only interested in how I was doing physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. This is what sets My Family Birth Center apart from hospitals, in my opinion. The midwives are so genuine and want to make sure you are getting the absolute best care.
The midwives also wanted to know how I was eating and exercising. They educated me on what nutrients I should get more or less of, how many calories I needed to consume, and how food is a better way to get nutrients rather than taking supplements. Of course, supplements are a great resource for when you are not able to get all of your nutrients directly from food. They taught me that pregnancy is not the time to start exercising, but rather maintain the same level of exercise you are used to.
With my second pregnancy, we started prenatal care with My Family Birth Center and were hoping to have a home birth. Around halfway through my pregnancy, we learned our baby had a heart defect through the anatomy scan and had to transfer care to a hospital.
Prenatal care at the hospital was similar in some aspects, but lacking in others. I asked to have hospital midwives attend my birth and my request was approved. I was hoping to keep my second birth as similar to my first birth as possible. While the hospital midwives were kind, it wasn’t the same as the experience I had at My Family Birth Center.
The hospital midwives would give me an examination, ask how I was doing, but they were more interested in how I was doing physically. I felt as though they weren’t as concerned with my emotional or mental well being.
I also didn’t receive the same level of education about food, nutrients, or exercise. In fact, I don’t recall ever being asked about any of those. Luckily, I had already been educated through My Family Birth Center with my first birth and the first half of pregnancy with my second.
Do you have a hard time finding childcare for your prenatal appointments or just want to show your child what goes on behind the scenes? Not to worry. My Family Birth Center is child friendly, so if you can’t find someone to watch your older children, feel free to bring them along and involve them in your appointments. If they have a hard time sitting still, try bringing some coloring books or toys for them to play with.
Bringing my toddler along to my appointments was a highlight of my prenatal care before having to transfer to the hospital. I enjoyed involving her in the process and allowing her to have that experience. She loved the attention she received from the midwives. They were so kind and patient with us.
When I transferred care to the hospital, I could no longer bring my toddler with me to my appointments. I had to schedule my appointments during a date and time when I knew I could have someone available to watch her, or ask my husband to take time off of work to be with her. If I couldn’t find someone to watch her ahead of time, I would have to call and reschedule.
Labor and Delivery Education
Another major difference I noticed between my two births was the education and preparation before childbirth. At the birth center, the midwives wanted to make sure I knew the stages of labor and how to cope through contractions. They gave my husband and I a master class of labor, delivery, and postpartum care. They taught us labor positions and how my husband could support me emotionally and physically through labor. They gave me book recommendations and resources to prepare myself mentally for childbirth.
I felt ready to deliver my child. I was excited for labor and delivery, not scared. When the time came, we used the information the midwives gave us to good use and I birthed my first daughter confidently.
Leading up to my second birth, I was a little nervous since I would be in a hospital setting. I asked questions about the birth process at the hospital, but I never felt like I received a good answer. I was fortunate to still have e-books on childbirth to give me a refresher, but I still was left wondering what to expect with a hospital birth.
When I had started labor with my first daughter, I called the midwives to let them know. They were excited and told me to try to get some rest as I may need it later. I said okay! I tried laying down, but the contractions were pretty strong from the start. After laboring at home for a few hours, the contractions started to get more serious. We called the midwives and asked to meet them at the birth center. When we got there, the midwives had started the bath, as they knew that was in my birth plan. My husband brought all of our stuff in while I labored on the bed.
Once the tub was full, one of the midwives and my husband helped me get undressed and into the tub. Not very long after getting into the tub, I felt the need to push. The midwives told me I could push when I needed to. They gave me support throughout, although I don’t know how much I actually heard since I was in labor land. After a few good pushes, our daughter was born.
We were able to admire our baby while I delivered the placenta. We waited for the cord to turn white, cut the cord, then transferred over to the bed where we were able to lay together as a family for the first time. It was a dream birth and we were able to go home that night (early morning actually).
Our first daughter came quick. My labor from start to finish (including placenta delivery) was about 7 hours. So when I went into labor with our second daughter, we were expecting her to come fast too. We also had to travel 45 minutes to the hospital and the weather was supposed to be less than ideal.
Labor started very similar to my first, so we called up the hospital midwives, asked when they thought we should come in, and they said given my history, drive time, and the fact that they wanted to induce me in a couple of days anyway, that I could make my way whenever we were ready. We took our time getting there so we could be sure my labor wouldn’t stall. We even stopped to get a light meal before heading in. The whole way, contractions were going strong, but not quite painful yet.
Once we arrived at the hospital, got checked in, and into the monitoring room… my labor stalled. We debated whether to go home or try to get labor started up again, and decided we could try to induce labor with low doses of pitocin followed by breaking my waters. I spent hours on pitocin, walking around the room, and bouncing on a birth ball to help progress my labor when I should have been getting rest. Eventually one of the midwives broke my waters and labor got more serious. I was struggling to cope with the contractions because I was just so tired.
I didn’t want an epidural, but at one point I did ask if I could have nitrous oxide. Because of the pandemic, they were only allowing epidurals. With our daughter’s heart defect, I was not able to have a water birth, but they would allow me to labor in the water. I tried getting comfortable in the tub, but it wasn’t meant for birth and was just too small. I found a comfortable position to labor in and soon began pushing. She was born shortly after and the midwives helped place her on my chest, but only for a moment as she had inhaled some amniotic fluid. We weren’t able to have a delayed cord clamping as they rushed our new baby away to be suctioned.
Hospital standard policy is to receive pitocin after birth to help the uterus contract. Prior to the birth, I had explained to the midwives that I did NOT want pitocin after delivering my child; however, they gave me pitocin anyway. My husband was checking on our daughter while they explained to me what they were doing, so he was not able to advocate for me, and because I was exhausted and just gave birth, I said sure.
At My Family Birth Center I had a voice in how I wanted to give birth and they listened. At the hospital, my voice was muffled. This is the difference in care that I experienced.
Two days after our first daughter’s birth, the midwives at My Family Birth Center visited us at our home to see how we were adjusting, give me breastfeeding advice, and answer any questions we had. It was so nice to have them check in on us.
We had our regular two-week and six-week check up at the birth center. Each time, they would ask how we were adjusting and making sure we were getting enough rest. They loved when I would bring my daughter in to see them.
Because I had my second daughter during the pandemic, we scheduled my two-week check up for a telehealth visit. It was a little difficult to say the least. I was trying to get my newborn to sleep while making sure my toddler was entertained without being too loud, and speaking with the midwife. We got through it and fortunately for me, the midwife was very patient. My six-week check up was in person and was just like a regular check up.
Between the two births, I had a much more positive experience at My Family Birth Center than I did at a great hospital. The care and education they provide is just exceptional. I plan to have a homebirth with our third baby when the time comes.
If you would like to have a customizable birth and have your voice heard, contact our midwives today to receive top-notch prenatal care and your dream birth.
Dakota Collins is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mother of two precious little girls who is passionate about freedom in pregnancy and childbirth.