Pregnancy: Deciding Where to Deliver

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You have a choice of where to deliver your baby. Unless you have a high-risk pregnancy, you can decide to have your baby in a hospital, in a birthing center, or at home. Each of these options has pros and cons. Things you may want to think about include:

  • Who you want to deliver your baby.
  • What pain-relief options you want.
  • The cost and what your insurance will cover.


Most medical doctors deliver only at hospitals. Some hospitals also allow certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) to deliver babies. Many hospitals offer special birthing rooms that are comfortable and homey.

One advantage of a hospital birth is access to the staff and equipment. They are right there if you have problems with the birth. And a hospital offers a wide range of options for pain relief.

Different hospitals have different rules about who can be in the room during the birth. Most hospitals allow visitors during labor. But during the actual birth, the hospital may limit who can be in the room. These rules are to avoid overcrowding and reduce the risk of infection.

Birthing center

A birthing center is usually staffed by certified nurse-midwives. They can call in a doctor or send you or your baby to a hospital if there are problems.

Birthing centers are smaller and less formal than most hospitals. You may be allowed to have several people with you during the birth, including children and other family members.

Birthing centers are not recommended if you have a high-risk pregnancy. Emergency equipment and options for pain relief are limited.

Giving birth in a birthing center usually costs less than in a hospital. But it may not be covered by insurance.


Certified professional midwives (CPMs) and lay midwives will deliver in a home setting. Some certified nurse-midwives will too.

A home birth has advantages. You may feel more comfortable staying in your own home during labor. And you can choose who you want with you when you deliver.

The major drawback of a home birth is the risk of an emergency. In that case, you or your baby would need to be taken in an ambulance to a hospital. The time that takes could be critical. A home birth is not recommended if you have a high-risk pregnancy.

A home birth costs the least. But it may not be covered by insurance.


Current as of: July 10, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.