Where to Give Birth: Home, Birthing Center or Hospital

Where to Give Birth: Home, Birthing Center or Hospital

Mar 5, 2018

Choosing a health care provider and the place you desire to give birth is among the first steps to consider in these early stages of your pregnancy. Before making a decision on where to give birth, talk with your friends, family members, and colleagues who have given birth in different settings and read up on childbirth. To assist you in making the decision you can arrange for tours of your local hospital's labour and delivery unit, maternity floor, your local birthing centers (if available in your area) and speak to midwives about home birth. Discuss your options with your partner, and make sure both of you are comfortable with your choice. Remember that the most important thing is to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby!

Depending on where you live in southern Alberta, which health care provider you choose or is available in your area, you can sometimes choose among hospitals, birthing centers and in your own home.


In earlier times, home births were the rule. Then, as obstetrics became a medical specialty, hospital births became the standard. Most women prefer the security and safety a hospital represents. Women with high risk pregnancies will need the support and care of the services a hospital provides. Most hospitals are able to provide the latest technology available from fetal monitoring systems to special surgical suites and a degree of neonatal care. A labouring woman can be under the supervision of midwives, family physicians, or obstetricians and registered nurses. If you've chosen a hospital, ask about procedures such as fetal monitoring, IV's, birthing aids and positions, and the hospital's cesarean rate.

Birthing Centers

As the movement for a more natural approach to labour and birth began almost 30 years ago, the rate of free-standing birthing centers has increased. Birthing centers are licensed facilities that offer prenatal, labour, and postpartum services, but only to women with considered low-risk pregnancies. They tend to be situated near hospitals so a rapid transfer to special care can be made available if a complication arises. Birthing centers provide a more natural, home-like environment and are geared for the woman who doesn't want to deliver at home but prefers to deliver without the medical intervention that hospital care provides. The atmosphere is small, close-knit, and is staffed by midwives. When inquiring about birthing centers ask which hospital they are affiliated with, transfer rates for emergency care, how long an emergency transfer usually takes, and who would provide care if a transfer happens.


The most ‘controversial’ place to achieve a healthy birth is at home, but it is a safe option. A low-risk delivery can be done in the privacy of your own home without the need for outside medical intervention but can only be offered in areas that have registered midwives. When inquiring about home birth, ask about using birth pools, what constitutes an emergency, how long an emergency transfer usually takes, and who would provide care if a transfer happens.

Whatever your choice, know that is this right choice for you, your partner, and your new baby. Congratulations!

Loree Siermachesky works as a multi-certified labour and postpartum doula, certified Lamaze childbirth educator, certified breastfeeding counselor, certified placenta encapsulation specialist and a certified car seat technician in Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. She has had the honour of attending over 1400 births in the last 20 years. She is well-known and greatly respected by the medical providers in Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Brooks, Taber, and Calgary. She cares deeply for this profession and even more for her clientele, honoring them in whatever method of birth they choose, or helping them transition to new parenthood as they wish.