Home Birth or Birth Center – What’s the Big Difference?

by | Apr 28, 2021 | Homebirth, Midwifery

I’m often asked what’s the difference between a homebirth or birth center? Before we begin, I’d like to explain the difference between “in hospital” and “out of hospital” birth. In hospital, is just that…in a hospital. “Out of hospital” is birth that takes place anywhere other than a hospital. It can be in your home, someone else’s home, a birth center, an apartment, a travel trailer or in the middle of the woods.

So you’re thinking about an out of hospital birth? Why choose a homebirth over a birth center?

1. Cost

A Birth Center has overhead in operating a large building with multiple midwives and staff to run the facility. Homebirth has no facility fee as you are in your home. A facility fee will increase the cost of your care significantly. A homebirth midwife usually has a modest office or an office in her home.

Additionally, homebirth midwives can be more accommodating to their clients needs, providing various payment plans unique to them and their situations. Homebirth is a financially smart option providing the same care without additional costs. Birth centers and homebirth are both out of hospital and covered by insurance in the same way.

Midwives, whether working in a birth center or at home are working in an out-of-hospital environment and have the same level of training.

2. Safety

Out of hospital midwifery care requires that a client be of low risk throughout all phases of pregnancy, labor and birth. Midwives, whether working in a birth center or at home are working in an out-of-hospital environment and have the same level of training. They have access to the same equipment and can safely manage and stabilize an emergency situation while preparing for transfer. The care that is provided in an emergency situation is identical.

It’s modern midwifery! In an emergency, the law requires that both birth center and homebirth clients are transferred to a hospital where a higher level of care is available.

birthing mother in birth pool while midwife checks baby's heartbeat

3. Midwifery Care

There is something quite special and unique that happens when receiving care from your homebirth midwife. It’s one on one. You can count on seeing your Midwife at each prenatal visit and know that she will be present for your homebirth. No rotating staff (common in a birth center). No driving to another location to have your baby. You’re home!

You are free to labor and birth at home, eating, moving, laboring your way and surrounded by the people you love. I once heard it described like this, “you make a good friend and then your friend comes to help you have your baby.” Nothing describes midwifery care more perfectly! I hope you have a beautiful birth experience. Ultimately you get to choose what’s best for you! Hospital, birth center or home. You and your baby deserve nothing but the best! Enjoy!