You Have Birthing Choices

The people a woman chooses to surround her, help shape her birth experience. Women's Health In Women's Hands encourages and advocates for every woman to explore her birthing choices

Birthing is a natural, normal, woman centered life event. In the United States, birthing has been medicalized and conceptualized into something dangerous. The medicalization of birth takes a woman's choice out of her own birthing experience. Women aren't blind to the fact that birth has been politicized to the point that a woman asserting her absolute right to give birth in the place and manner she chooses are called non compliant or difficult. From unnecessary testing to implied (but non existent) risks; women are made to feel afraid that their perfectly capable bodies cannot birth their babies without interventions. And because of that, where you choose to give birth depends on your state, and how you'll pay for your pre-natal and birth care (insurance, out of pocket etc). Let's talk about your three main birthing options.

Home Birth

Home birth can be a comfortable place to birth your baby. You can choose how many or few people you'll have around you while you're supported by your midwife and anyone they have as their support. You'll put together your birth plan, which is a description of your birthing wishes and helps you make many choices before you're absorbed with labor. Birth plans are not set in stone, but will help anyone you choose to have around you understand what you want to have happen at any given moment during your labor. Your midwife is your care provider and unless they use a team of midwives, will be the person attending you during birth.

Birth Center

Birth centers offer you and your family low intervention, natural birthing options. Some hospitals have birthing centers, and some birthing centers are stand alone facilities. This might be for you if you don't want a hospital birth and aren't comfortable choosing a home birth. You'll have around the clock care, lactation support, and leaving is at your own pace. Birth centers have smaller provider teams than hospitals, so you will get to know your birthing team well and most likely know who will be attending your birth when the time comes.


Hospitals often offer both midwifery and ob/gyn providers and while you'll have your pre-natal care with your chosen provider, when birth time comes, there's a chance your provider will not be attending you. The downside to hospital birth is that it can be more rushed because of protocols they may have in place. So if your labor goes longer than the hospital deems necessary, you and your partner may be faced with making decisions during a time that is both physically and emotionally exhausting. Check with your care provider to find out what accommodations and policies their hospital has in place so your birth plan can document your choices within that environment.

Women Centered Pregnancy and Birth (pdf downloadable book)
By Ginny Cassidy-Brinn, R.N., Francie Hornstein, and Carol Downer Federation of Feminist Women's Health Center Illustrations by Suzann Gage

Women Centered Pregnancy and Birth gives you a key to understanding pregnancy from an empowered feminist perspective by giving you questions you can ask and ways to evaluate your options in childbirth.

Women Centered Pregnancy and Birth was written in 1984, obviously over the years medicine and research have found new knowledge and interventions. It's important to us to help you advocate for yourself; your body is capable of giving birth baring confirmed medical reasons to the contrary. When you know the interventions that are currently being promoted and you know the questions you want to ask, you know how to decide on the birthing environment that fits your life. When an intervention is suggested to you, you also have the option to choose differently.

Download a free copy of Women Centered Pregnancy and Birth from our library.

Our resources page has information for you on labor interventions, and how to choose what is necessary or not.

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