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Where and how do I want to give birth?

In Switzerland, 97% of expectant months currently choose to give birth in hospital. In the case of high-risk pregnancies, e.g. multiple births, high blood pressure, if you suffer from a specific health condition (e.g. diabetes or hepatitis C), a hospital birth is highly recommended because you benefit from comprehensive medical care. Approximately 2% of pregnant women prefer a maternity facility, and around 1% a home birth. Until the 1950s, most Swiss women gave birth at home. In countries such as Canada, the Netherlands and England, the proportion of women choosing a home birth is still 30%. Below you’ll find all the key information on each birthing location:


Hospital birth

  • Key advantage: Safe medical care in any eventuality.
  • Atmosphere: Clinical birthing rooms have long given way to modern rooms with a pleasant ambience.
  • Medical aids: Birthing tub for water births, birthing stool, birthing bed, Roma birth wheel, birthing ball, rope, wall bars, etc. – depending on the hospital’s standard of fittings.
  • Shower/WC: Available as standard in every room.
  • Emergencies: Immediate medical care and all the medical aids and specialists required for the use of delivery forceps and suction cups or for an on-site caesarean section.
  • Neonatal unit: Delivery at term is when the baby is born between the 37th and 42nd week of pregnancy. If a baby is born any earlier, it is classified as premature; larger cantonal hospitals and university hospitals have the necessary neonatal units.
  • Care during the birth: Normally there’s always a midwife present during a birth at a hospital. However, she’s not in the room at all times, particularly during the initial phases of the birth, so you and your partner will also have time to yourselves.
  • Alternative therapies: Today, midwives in hospitals are also familiar with alternative therapies, so many maternity wards offer acupuncture, massages, phytotherapy and aromatherapy to ease labour pains.
  • All-round medical care: As soon as the birth starts, you’ll be constantly looked after by a midwife and, depending on the situation, a doctor and any additional medical staff deemed necessary.
  • Hospital maternity facility: This is a special ward where, at the request of the expectant parents, only a midwife is present at the birth. A doctor can be called in case of complications. Not all hospitals have an integrated maternity facility – it’s worth asking if you’re interested in this option.
  • Duration of stay: If you have an outpatient birth (vaginal) without complications, you and your baby can leave the hospital after just a few hours (minimum of 4 hours). If you’d like to stay in hospital after the birth, you’re entitled to stay between 2 and 4 days after a vaginal birth and 4 to 5 days after a caesarean section – as long as your baby is fit and healthy.
  • Costs: Sanitas covers the full cost of the birth and initial after-birth care under basic health insurance – without applying a cost share (deductible and copayment).

Maternity facility

  • Key advantage: Allowing the birth to progress as naturally as possible.
  • Atmosphere: Maternity facilities set great store by a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and are staffed by qualified, professional midwives. They want mums-to-be to feel secure and comfortable, so maternity facilities cater to individual wishes and birthing requirements.
  • Medical aids: Birthing tubs (water birth), natural pain relief (alternative therapies), cosy birthing room, stool, mat, ball, rope, etc. – depending on the maternity facility’s standard of fittings.
  • Accompanying family: Often, the family can be accommodated in one room.
  • Duration of stay: Maternity facilities usually offer outpatient births, which means that you and your baby can leave within 24 hours and then receive home care from a midwife. Some maternity facilities also offer inpatient after-birth care of up to 6 days.
  • Care during the birth: Unlike hospital births, you often get 1:1 care at maternity facilities, which means you have exclusive access to your assigned midwife and she is not responsible for other expectant mothers at the same time. It is the same midwife who has supported you through your pregnancy.
  • Emergencies: Maternity facilities do not tend to work with doctors. If complications occur during the birth, you and your midwife will be taken to the nearest hospital, where a caesarean section will be performed in an emergency.    Use of pain relief: Many maternity facilities do not offer epidurals (peridural anaesthesia (PDA), anaesthetic close to the spine that relaxes the entire abdomen and achieves almost total pain relief). They prefer to use heat and breathing techniques, massage, music and movement (changing position).
  • Costs: Sanitas covers the full cost of the birth and initial after-birth care under basic health insurance – without applying a cost share (deductible and copayment).

Home birth:

  • Key advantage: Private atmosphere in a familiar environment – it can have a very relaxing and calming effect.
  • Care during the birth: One midwife from commencement of contractions to the first stage of labour who is contacted as early in the pregnancy as possible. A second midwife is involved in the birth itself so that mum and baby receive the best possible care. A doctor is called for the birth on a case-by-case basis.
  • Emergencies: The mum-to-be is taken to hospital for a caesarean section and other emergencies.
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