While most births in the US now take place in hospitals, women have traditionally given birth at home, surrounded by loved ones in their own communities. An alternative to both is an independent, free-standing birth center.
Research shows that planned home births attended by qualified and experienced birth attendants, usually midwives, are as safe as or safer than hospital birth for healthy women. Birth centers are also safe environments for healthy women. While most women in the US choose hospitals for birth, hospitals are most appropriate for women with serious health conditions.
Home Birth, Hospital Birth & Birth Centers
After choosing a care provider, the choice of where to give birth is the next most important decision. As with the care provider:
“A growing body of research shows that among the most important factors influencing a woman’s risk of obstetric interventions, especially cesarean surgery and episiotomy, are where and with whom she gives birth.” from Why Transparency in Maternity Care Matters at Lamaze International.
You can get good information, along with tips, tools, and questions at Choosing a Place a Birth from Childbirth Connection
You can learn more about birth centers from What is a Birth Center? from American Association of Birth Centers (AABC). AABC also has information about choosing birth centers and find out if there is an independent, free-standing birth center nearby.
Hospitals in New York State that provide maternity services must make public their rates of cesarean section, medication, and other interventions. The New York State Department of Health makes that data available at Hospital Maternity-Related Procedures and Practices.