Hospital, Home or Birthing Centre? That is the Question

by | Feb 6, 2023

Whether you’ve just discovered that you’re pregnant or already well into your pregnancy, how you decide to deliver your baby will cross your mind at some point. Being a pregnant mother today, know that you have various birthing options. These include hospital births, home births, and birth centres. Please carefully consider your options and discuss them with your healthcare provider to make the right decisions. Here’s a brief overview of what each option entails. 


Hospital Births


Hospital births are the most common birthing option, with most births occurring in a hospital setting. If you’re on medical aid, ensure that you receive hospital authorisation well before birth. Know what costs your medical aid will be covering. 


One of the benefits of hospital births is the availability of medical professionals and resources in the event of an emergency. Hospitals are well equipped with advanced technology and equipment to handle complications such as preterm labour, preeclampsia, and other medical emergencies that may arise during childbirth.


However, hospital births can also come with some drawbacks. For example, some hospitals may have strict protocols that limit your freedom to move around and choose positions for labour and delivery. Additionally, the hospital environment can be sterile and unfamiliar, intimidating for some women. Furthermore, if you’re not on private medical aid in South Africa, you can pay up to over R50 000 for the birth. Complications and additional care will add to that bill. 


Government hospitals are an option, and they provide free health care. As cited from news24, “South Africa has 216 private hospitals with 28 000 beds and 342 public hospitals with about 100 000 beds.” It is advisable to book your hospital bed at a government facility well in advance, at least eight weeks into your pregnancy. You can establish a relationship with the health care providers at your hospital and attend all the recommended visits. This way, they have a history of your pregnancy when the time for labour arrives. The hospital will also provide you with essential items, including your PJs, extra linen, support, snacks, necessary items for your baby, and more. 


Home Births


Home births, also known as “out-of-hospital” births, are becoming increasingly popular in South Africa. Home births take place in the comfort of your home with the support of a midwife, doula, or other trained professional.

One of the benefits of home birth is the comfort and familiarity of your environment. This can help reduce stress and anxiety and allow you to feel more in control of the birth experience. Home births also offer greater flexibility in movement and positioning during labour and delivery.


However, home births can also carry some risks. For example, if complications arise during childbirth, it may not be possible to access medical care as quickly as you would in a hospital setting. Additionally, home births may not be suitable for women with certain medical conditions or high-risk pregnancies.


Birth Centre


Birth centres, also known as “birth houses,” are another option for expectant mothers in South Africa, offering a more natural and home-like setting for childbirth. Midwives with essential medical equipment, such as oxygen and medications for pain relief, typically staff birth centres. Today’s birth centres offer state-of-the-art medical equipment and theatres in the event of an emergency. 


One of the benefits of a birth centre is the supportive and home-like environment, which can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation during labour and delivery. Birth centres also often offer various services, such as childbirth education and breastfeeding support. Furthermore, you can select your midwife and journey with her in the months before your delivery. 

However, it is important to note that birth centres may not be suitable for all pregnancies, and you may need to transfer to a hospital in the event of complications that the centre is not equipped for. These centres have excellent medical staff who will ensure you receive the attention and care you need. 


Each option has its benefits and drawbacks, and it is critical to carefully consider your options before deciding. It is also vital for you to discuss your options with your healthcare provider to make sure you’re empowered to choose the best option for your individual needs and circumstances. Lastly, involve your partner. Even though you’re the one that will be undergoing the birth itself, they are also responsible for the growing life in you. Including your partner in your birthing options, or at least the process, is essential for the baby and you.