OPTION 3: Midwife-attended natural birth in a hospital
“The most important thing for me was to have a midwife because I wanted a holistic approach to childbirth, but I still liked the idea of being in a medical setting in case something went wrong.” —Dawn, a public relations director and mother of two in Oak Park, Ill.
“When I checked into the hospital, I had to spend a mandatory one hour on the monitor before I could be moved to the birth center, and I didn’t like it at all. I was itchy and uncomfortable, and all I wanted to do was walk around.” —Jennie, a literary agent and mother of two in North Salem, N.Y.
Who chooses it: Women who prefer the low-tech, handson, low-intervention, drug-free philosophy of a midwife but do not want to deliver in any place other than a hospital. Giving birth with a midwife at an in-hospital (non-independent) birthing center is the most supportive hospital setting for completing a natural labor (you go through labor and give birth in the same room). In some hospitals, midwives can deliver babies in the delivery room.
What you get: A compromise between hospital safety and a midwife’s natural, personalized approach; in-hospital birthing centers are a good option for women in the 16 states that do not have any AABC-licensed independent birth centers.
What you give up: You’ll likely be at least temporarily hooked up to an IV and an electronic fetal monitor, and you will have to follow hospital rules about eating and drinking and the number of other people allowed in the room.
What you need to know: Prepare by taking a natural-birth class, such as Bradley or HypnoBirthing, and make sure your little corner of the hospital is as conducive as possible to staying drug- and intervention-free. Have your partner or doula practice running interference with doctors for you.