The first and most important decision that couples need to make, ideally before they become pregnant, is whom they will hire to provide prenatal care and to attend their birth. It is a decision that needs careful attention.
Many factors determine the type of care a woman will choose, and choosing where you want to give birth often goes hand in hand with whom you choose as a provider. Some doctors only have privileges at specific hospitals, and you may like the doctor but not the hospital. Not all midwives have hospital privileges, just as not all midwives will attend home births.
The very first factor to investigate is who the care providers are in your area. Look in the Yellow Pages for physicians, or contact your local medical society. Often certified nurse-midwives will also be listed as providing hospital or home-birth services. You can also check local parenting newspapers, resource centers and bulletin boards in children's stores.
Talk with friends and family members and other women with whom you share common values concerning birth. Ask them about their birth experiences.
As soon as you have a few referrals, make interview appointments. Remember that you are the prospective client conducting the interview and doing the hiring. Finding a caregiver who will truly support you in having the best birth experience possible will, in most cases, automatically determine where you will give birth.