Hearts & Hands UCSD Volunteer Doula Program



Where you give birth matters.

Choosing a birth location

Where a woman chooses to give birth is an important decision that can impact her childbirth experience for years to come. Having an experienced doula who can serve as a "tour guide" is helpful in any setting, but picking the right destination can make all the difference.       

When a woman finds out she's pregnant, her first thoughts may lean more to the result -the baby- than how she's going to be cared for through her pregnancy, how the birth will go, and what motherhood will look like. But where you give birth, and what kind of healthcare provider you'll have, will greatly shape your birth experience and even impact health outcomes for yourself and your baby. Not just the delivery, but your whole pregnancy will be affected by these initial choices, yet many women don't realize we can - and should - shop around.    

Though most women in the U.S. limit their decision-making to which hospital there are actually three types of birth locations to know about: hospitals, birth centers, or homebirths. All three are available in San Diego County, though your choices may be limited by a lack of information, or lack of access to the various options because of insurance or medical reasons. But women should know that we have choices, that there are differences between midwives and physicians, that hospital policies vary greatly, and that we can change care providers and/or delivery locations even late in pregnancy. Becoming well-informed will help you feel safe and confident in your birthing choices.    

To help you with decision-making, a wealth of important information is available at Childbirth Connection. We recommend reading "Choosing a Place of Birth" and "Choosing a Caregiver" at www.childbirthconnection.org    

The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS), at www.motherfriendly.org is another great resource for learning about evidence-based maternity care. For example, read about a project called The Birth Survey: an online resource for women to share their consumer reviews of doctors, midwives, hospitals, and birth centers, learn about the choices and birth experiences of others, and view data on hospital and birth center standard practices and intervention rates. And, look on the "Free Documents and Downloads" page for a list of ten questions for prospective mothers to ask of their chosen birth center, hospital, or home birth service.    

Learn More

Compare local hospitals using the following websites :  

Leapfrog Group 

Cal Hospital Compare

Leapfrog Group