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Birthing Locations

I think I’d like to deliver with a midwife, but my husband would prefer a doctor. Who delivered your baby and where?

Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: One option to consider when choosing your practitioner is a family doctor. In my mind, that’s the best choice. I chose a family doctor to deliver my older daughter. A family doctor will see you through your pregnancy and then pick up your new baby’s care from the very beginning.

As a family doctor myself, I feel a strong heart connection to babies I’ve known from the beginning when they were just blips in their mothers’ bellies. I’ve helped them to grow from a tiny seed.

My choice of where to deliver is not in a hospital. I do not think that hospitals, where normal childbirth is treated as an intensive-care experience, are the best places to have low-risk babies. My choice is at a birth center or at home within 10 minutes of a hospital, with supported skilled attendants—midwives who have backup and training. Midwives need support so that they are ready and able to call for help if they need it without repercussions or judgment.

My older daughter was born in the Ozarks of Missouri at a birth center, and my younger daughter was born on The Farm in Tennessee in a cottage in the woods.

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I was living in a town outside Columbia, Missouri. I went to the local hospital to check it out. I asked if I could keep my baby in my room with me. This was 1972, and they said, “Absolutely not! The only way you could keep your baby in your room would be if that baby was born outside of the hospital, such as on the way here. Then we’d consider it to be contaminated, and so it would have to stay with you.”

Their attitude that it would be better for my baby to be elsewhere away from me, not to mention that they believed my baby would be contaminated, totally freaked me out. I didn’t want my baby to be taken away from me. So I checked into other options. I found a doctor around 60 miles south who was associated with a birthing clinic. If he needed to, he could do a C-section. I knew that I would feel safe there. So even though it meant driving 60 miles, this doctor felt like the best option. I made that 60-mile trek each way every month for my prenatal visits.

The decision of where you have your baby should be based on where you feel safe. If someone tells you that home is the best place, but you don’t feel safe having your baby at home, you shouldn’t do it. But on the other hand, if you’re terrified of hospitals, then you shouldn’t have your baby in one. No one can have a healthy delivery if they’re scared or unsafe.

Stacey Marie Kerr, MD, a mother of two grown daughters, a family physician with strong roots in midwifery, and author of Homebirth in the Hospital, in Santa Rosa, CA

The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.