• Maria Varvoutis, MPH, CD, PCD

Choosing Your Birth Space

Updated: Mar 31

I wish I could give you magic crystal ball and tell you EXACTLY how your birth is going to go; however, I cannot. What I can tell you is that who your provider is and your place of birth can play a role in your labor and delivery.

I am NOT here to tell how to do things, but rather opening up a conversation between you and your birth partner about what you are looking for as your birthing space.

The possible places of birth are as follows:

  • hospital

  • birthing center

  • at home birth

  • in your car, parking lot, etc.

The top three are the most common, and the top one, a hospital, is THE most common. Many people birth in a hospital with a team of labor and delivery nurses, their birth parter, possibly a doula, and an OB. This OB does not usually show up until the baby is actually coming out of your body. I have personally witnessed doctors show up to the laboring room and turn right back around when it was made known that the birthing person had just started pushing. This was in part because they had another patient who was further along in pushing.

Why do they do this? Because the average statistical duration of pushing for a first time birthing person used to be from 1.5 to 3 hours. Thanks to updated research and the work of Evidence Based Birth, we now know that the amount of time spent pushing has a direct correlation to the position you birth in, the number of babies you have delivered, any medication you may receive during labor, and many, many more things.

{Please click here for the full article on this topic. I would LOVE to chat more with you about this if you so choose.}


Who is licensed to deliver you in a birthing space?

  • Hospital - OB or CNM

  • Birthing Center - usually a CNM, LM, or CPM

  • Home Birth - usually a CNM, LM, or CPM

A CNM is a Certified Nurse Midwife, a LM is a Licensed Midwife, and a CPM is a Certified Professional Midwife.

A midwife is required to attend a specific number of births both with a trained midwife, with a trained midwife assisting, and then finally, by themselves. A midwife is also required to pass vigorous training, exams, and a final board exam.


How does this impact the birth I am looking for?

Most, not all, U.S. based hospitals will not allow you to:

  • push out your baby in a tub,

  • push out your baby standing,

  • and want you to wear an external fetal monitoring system.

Most midwifes attending births either in your home or at a birth center will:

  • give much more free reign to your laboring process,

  • will allow you to birth anywhere,

  • will not require you to wear an external fetal monitoring system,

  • and they will allow you to eat and drink more freely throughout your labor.


What is the biggest reason I would birth in one place versus another?

If you have been diagnosed as a high risk pregnancy you will be strongly encouraged to deliver your baby in the hospital setting in order to ensure the safety and protection of your baby.

You will choose your place of birth for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, it is up to you and your birthing partner. Your decisions and choices as a caregiver start even before your baby is born.


What about if I'm birthing outside of the U.S.?

Birthing outside of the U.S. does not have to mean you put all of your birth presences out the door. In fact, you may be surprised that you receive the opposite reaction. It NEVER hurts to ask how your provider stands on certain topics. If you need a translator and it's not an option, Google Translate now has an option that can directly translate conversations for you into your native tongue.

I would also recommend that you look into childbirth education either virtually or in person. Understanding how to navigate your body through the ups and downs of labors may become absolutely vital if you do not have language skills to understand the birth team presented to you.


In conclusion, I strongly encourage you to:

and, finally, let's take a breathe together.

This can feel like heavy information.

This is a beautiful and amazing journey, and I am SO proud of you for making the decision to read through this material. Advocacy for birth rights does not have to a red flag waved from your social media account, but it's ALWAYS helpful to become more educated on YOUR CHOICES and RIGHTS.

If you would rather not dive through this material alone, please shoot me an email at info@4thtrimesterdoula.com. I can't wait to chat with you.

All the best,


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