The US has seen a recent resurgence in interest in alternative birth, and a slow but steady increase in out-of-hospital labor and delivery. Although most out-of-hospital births occur at home, there is a growing movement towards birth centers and other places that fall somewhere between home and hospital. Such places, typically staffed by professional midwives, are often presented as providing the “best of both worlds”—an in-between space that offers the comforts of home combined with the purportedly lower risk of the more institutionalized space of the hospital. Through exploring the lived experiences of women who have had a recent birth center birth, I explore whether birth centers really provide the “best of both worlds” or instead form a reluctant compromise among diverging concerns and wishes.
Helen Hazen, Ph.D.
Associate Teaching Professor
Department of Geography and the Environment
University of Denver