Choosing a Birth Setting for Childbirth Resources

Childbirth Connection's Pregnancy Topic on Choosing a Birth Setting

We provide in-depth coverage through our Pregnancy Topic to help inform you about choosing a birth setting:

Other Childbirth Connection Resources Relating to Choosing a Birth Setting

  • Choosing a Caregiver, an in-depth Pregnancy Topic for help with an important decision that goes hand-in-hand with choosing a place of birth

Resources for Choosing a Birth Setting and Different Types of Birth Settings

American Association of Birth Centers: The best single source of information about out-of-hospital (or "freestanding") birth centers in the U.S. is the website of AABC (formerly known as National Association of Childbearing Centers); defines the birth center concept through text and audio and video recordings on many related topics; with FAQs, an online version of "The Birth Center" brochure, and a look at birth centers from the professional side; those considering birth centers may be interested in several publications that can be ordered through the site, including reports of The National Birth Center Study and of a Survey of Birth Center Experience; you can also contact AABC by e-mail at and by phone at 215-234-8068 (eastern time).

Lamaze International: Why Transparency in Maternity Care Matters: A Fact Sheet: explains why transparency in medical interventions at the provider and facility level is necessary for quality improvements in maternity care. 

The Birth Books, by William Sears and Martha Sears, a pregnancy book
the birth book choosing a place of birth
The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth (1994), by William Sears and Martha Sears.

In this helpful resource guide, the Searses cover the gamut of possibilities, and teach readers what they need to know to take control of their own birthings. The Birth Book is divided into three parts: "Preparing for Birth," "Easing Pain in Labor," and "Experiencing Birth." You'll find details about vaginal births; cesareans; VBACs; water births; home births; best birthing positions; drugs; pain; how to design your own birth plan; the humor, chemistry, and sexuality of birth; and pages and pages of birth stories. Chapter 3 is especially relevant to choosing your birth setting.

Learn more about The Birth Book from Amazon Buy The Birth Book, a pregnancy book

Birth Your Way, by Sheila Kitzinger, a pregnancy book
birth your way choosing a place of birth
Birth Your Way: Choosing Birth at Home or in a Birth Center (2002), by Sheila Kitzinger.

Birth Your Way describes the best way to choose birth at home or in the hospital. As research discloses the risks of intensively managed hospital birth, increasing numbers of women are considering alternatives. This new updated edition of Sheila Kitzinger's pioneering work gives women the facts. Highly informative yet sensitively written, and supported by firsthand accounts of women's personal experiences of birth, this is the essential guide for every woman considering her options. A longtime champion of freedom of choice in childbirth, Sheila Kitzinger is uniquely placed to advise and support women who want to make the right decision confidently for themselves.

Learn more about Birth Your Way from Amazon Buy Birth Your Way, a pregnancy book

Coalition for Improving Maternity Services: see "Having a Baby? Ten Questions to Ask"

The Home Birth Advantage, by Mayer Eisenstein, a pregnancy book
the home birth advantage
The Home Birth Advantage: A Time Honored Tradition for the New Millennium (2000), by Mayer Eisenstein.

This book challanges America's traditional hospital based birth system, the system which has placed the United States at the bottom of the list of industrialized nations with regard to healthy babies and healthy mothers. Dr. Eisenstein explains that birth, for the majority of women, may even be safer without the routine hospital procedures: electronic fetal monitoring, episitomy, iv's, epidurals, etc.

Learn more about The Home Birth Advantage from Amazon Buy The Home Birth Advantage, a pregnancy book

The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer, a pregnancy book
the thinking woman's guide to a better birth choosing a place of birth
The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth (1999), by Henci Goer. (See chapter 13.)

Learn more about The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth from Amazon Buy The Thinking Woman's Guide, a pregnancy book

Resources for Understanding How Care Can Differ From One Hospital to Another, and Between Hospitals and Birth Centers

Massachusetts, Health and Human Services: Information to Help You Choose a Birth Facility: how to understand and use statistics to help choose a place of birth. Also see childbirth services utilization rates.

NYC Public Advocate/Choices in Childbirth: New York City Hospital Maternity Information: 2003 (PDF), clarifies for all "practice variation" and different rates of interventions from hospital to hospital; helps New York City residents choose a hospital

Resources for How to Find a Local Out-of-Hospital Birth Center for your Birth Setting

American Association of Birth Centers: Find a Birth Center: an online directory of birth centers from AABC

American College of Nurse-Midwives:
Certified Nurse-Midwives and Certified Midwives, an online database from ACNM to identify practices with one or more Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) or Certified Midwives (CMs), with ability to search for birth center and other practice settings

Resources for How to Find a Local Caregiver for a Home Birth

American College of Nurse-Midwives: Certified Nurse-Midwives and Certified Midwives: an online database from ACNM to identify practices with one or more Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) or Certified Midwives (CMs), with ability to search for home birth and other practice settings Natural Birth Partners:
an online directory for locating home birth and other midwives, including midwives who are willing to travel to women Find a Midwife:
midwife locator with ability to search for birth center, home and hospital birth services (right side of page - tip: try searching by state alone)

Midwives Alliance of North America: Midwives
(email): to request lists of MANA members in specific states or provinces, including many home birth providers (MANA members have many different types of credentials)

North American Registry of Midwives: Certified Professional Midwives: to find local Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), who are educated especially to offer out-of-hospital birth services, call NARM toll-free at 888-842-4784 or send an e-mail to

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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 2/20/2014