Birth centres offer an alternative to maternity wards in public hospitals and are best suited for those who would like their experience of labour and childbirth as natural as possible.
If you have a high-risk pregnancy with complications, a birth centre birth is not for you. Most birth centres will only accept bookings from women who are having straight forward, medical-free pregnancies.
Typically, birth centres have a more home-like feel about them and offer a more relaxed environment and a private en-suite bathroom.
Non-medicated pain relief options are promoted and encouraged, with massage, water therapy and aromatherapy all designed to minimise the need for using pain-relieving drugs during labour.
Choosing a birth centre does not mean turning your back on medical help if needed. In the case of unforeseen, emergency complications, women are transferred to the general delivery suites for urgent attention.
This article was written by Claire Halliday for New Zealands leading pregnancy resource, Kidspot.