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Choosing Where to Give Birth - Hospital or Home?


couple smiling and talking with doctor



A key part of planning for your baby is deciding where you want to give birth.  

In British Columbia, women and their partners can choose to have their baby in a hospital or at home. 

You may be advised to have your baby in a hospital if:

  • you're carrying more than one baby
  • your baby is in a breech position (bottom down) or other unusual position
  • you go into labour before 37 weeks or after 42 weeks of pregnancy
  • you have a medical condition such as high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease, or diabetes
  • you have active genital herpes
  •  your pregnancy is high-risk for any other reason

If you have a medical condition or other special needs, such as carrying more than one baby, your healthcare provider may ask an obstetrician to get involved. An obstetrician is a doctor trained to care for women who have special needs during pregnancy and birth. If necessary, an obstetrician may also be called during your labour and birth.

Babies Born at Home

A midwife can provide labour support for both hospital and home births. If you choose to have a midwife, she will be with you during your labour. If you have a home birth, a second attendant will also be present, staying for a short time before, during and after the birth. Your midwife will continue to provide care and information for you and your baby – including support for breastfeeding – for six weeks after the birth.

During the first week, the midwife will see you or contact you at home every day. Between the second and sixth week, you and your baby will visit the midwife’s office. After that, your care will be transferred back to your family doctor. You’ll also get information from a public health nurse about services available through the public health office and in your community.

Babies Born in Hospital

A nurse and your midwife (if you have one) will support you during your labour and birth. If you have chosen to be cared for by a doctor, he or she will usually check on you during labour and be with you during the birth.

A public health nurse will follow up with you after you go home. She will answer questions about your baby’s feeding and care. She will also talk with you about your health and postpartum adjustment and provide information about public health and other community services.

In some communities, public health nurses are not available after office hours, on weekends or on statutory holidays. If a public health nurse in not available in your community during these times, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1, for confidential health information and advice from a registered nurse.

Choosing your Baby's Birthplace

It's important that both you and your partner aer comfortable with where you choose to have your baby. When thinking about your birth wishes, ask:

  • Where will we feel safe and be able to relax and focus on my labour?
  • Am I in good health, without any medical problems in my pregnancy?
  • Where can my healthcare provider attend the birth?
  • Will my partner and I be involved in the choices about my care?

Resources & Links: 

HealthLink BC: Deciding where to deliver 

Printable checklist of items to take to the hospital 


Last Updated: August 9, 2013