Many hospitals are eliminating their OB-GYN departments, and refusing to allow women in labor to give birth in their facilities. This is due to the skyrocketing cost of malpractice insurance. Because so many hospitals no longer allow births, alternatives like birthing centers have sprung up. The Natural Birthhouse looks at the differences between a birthing center and a hospital.
Birthing centers specialize in pregnancy, birth and newborn care. Hospitals that still allow women to give birth offer a wide variety of medical services, so they may not have the staff or the time to focus on birth. Some hospitals call their OB-GYN departments birth centers. These birth centers are similar to freestanding birth centers in name only. In hospitals, doctors will not show up until the baby has crowned. In birthing centers, personnel are with women all throughout labor.
Both hospitals and birth centers offer pain medication for women in labor. The big difference is that birth centers do not give epidurals. These are injections in your back that block nerves. Epidurals require procedures that birthing centers are just not equipped to handle. Not all birth centers offer nitrous oxide gas. Some birth centers do not give painkillers at all, but rely on alternative therapies like massage or acupuncture.