Dossier: Pregnancy

Where should I give birth?

Giving birth in hospital, at home or in a maternity facility? Expectant mothers with no pregnancy complications can make their decision based on their own personal preferences. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option? We help you decide.

Hospital birth

  • Major plus point: Immediate medical care in the event of an emergency.
  • Atmosphere: clinical birthing rooms have long given way to modern rooms with a pleasant ambience.
  • Birthing 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.
  • Emergencies: immediate medical care and all the medical aids and specialists required for a forceps delivery and use of suction cups or for an on-site caesarean section.
  • Risk pregnancies and neonatal unit: (neonatology): Women classified as high risk are advised to deliver in a hospital. Babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy are classified as premature. 
  • Care during the birth: In most cases, a midwife and a doctor will look after the mum-to-be. In the early phases of labour, the parents-to-be can also be left alone. 
  • Pain medication: an epidural or peridural anaesthesia (PDA) is a spinal anaesthesia which relieves pain in the abdomen and achieves almost total pain relief. Many maternity units also offer acupuncture, massages, phyto- and aromatherapy.
  • Duration of stay: If you have an inpatient birth (vaginal) without complications, you and your baby can leave the hospital after just a few hours. Most women tend to spend 3 to 5 days recovering in hospital. If there are complications or the mum-to-be undergoes a caesarean section, she will have to stay longer. 
  • 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 is only called in case of complications. Not all hospitals have an integrated maternity facility.

Maternity facility

  • Major plus point: In maternity facilities, midwives try to allow 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.
  • Birthing aids: birthing tub for water births, natural pain relief, cosy birthing room, stool, mat, ball, rope – depending on the maternity facility’s standard of fittings.
  • Emergencies : maternity facilities rarely work with doctors. In the event of complications, the mum-to-be is taken to the nearest hospital with her midwife.
  • Care during the birth: The same midwife who has supported the mum-to-be throughout the pregnancy will be present for the birth.
  • Pain relief: maternity facilities don’t offer PDAs. They prefer to use alternative methods of pain relief such as heat and breathing techniques, massage, music and movement.
  • Duration of stay: Maternity facilities usually offer outpatient births. Mum and baby leave the facility within 24 hours and a midwife checks in on them at home. Some maternity facilities also offer inpatient after-birth care.
  • Accompanying family: Often, the family can be accommodated in one room.

Birth at home

  • Major plus point: Private atmosphere in a familiar environment – it can have a very relaxing and calming effect.
  • Care during the birth: A midwife looks after the mum-to-be when contractions start. 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.