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There are many reasons to choose homebirth. But the wish to have a natural, unmedicated birth and a comfortable, familiar environment are high on the list for many mothers. If you have given birth at home in the past and are then going to a hospital for a subsequent delivery, you may be a little nervous. What can you expect? How can you get the best out of your hospital experience?

We often hear stories about mothers who have given birth at home after a hospital birth, but the opposite decision is not talked about as often. Of course, there can be plenty of reasons to choose to have a baby in hospital after having delivered at home. They include:

  • Having a high-risk pregnancy this time around
  • A different insurance policy, or different financial circumstances
  • No (competent) midwives in your current area
  • Not having been satisfied with the last homebirth, including due to complications
  • More recent research convincing the family that homebirth is less safe than previously thought

No matter what your reason for choosing a hospital birth, you may feel ambivalent about the experience. Are you afraid that you will have to comply with hospital policies you do not agree with, such as continuous fetal monitoring or labor augmentation after a certain amount of time has passed? Are you not sure you will be able to labor comfortably with lots of other people around?

Touring the hospital you will be giving birth at in advance, and becoming familiar with the various policies, will certain help you know what to expect. If you are still "homebirth-minded", and would prefer to have as few medical interventions as possible, it will be helpful to find out what the hospital's intervention rate is what is the c-section rate, what percentage of women have epidurals, and what about induced or augmented labors? These figures will tell you something about how open your particular hospital is to natural birth.

Hiring a doula and making a birth plan are both popular options for those women who want a natural birth in a hospital. Both can be very helpful, but can also be counterproductive because they can make hospital staff defensive. Another option would be to simply state your wishes to your doctor and all staff before, and during your birth. You can also specifically ask for nurses who are familiar with unmedicated births and enjoy attending them. Whether you hire a doula or not, the presence of your partner or a friend, who can advocate for you when needed, will be beneficial.

And who knows? Some women come to give birth in hospital expecting a terrible experience, but go away being completely satisfied with the way they and their baby were treated.

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