Where to give birth is a very straightforward decision for some. If you have planned for this birth long before conception, chances are you've already thought about the birth. For others though, thinking about where to give birth is less of a given.
For instance, those expecting multiples or women who have medical complications will be forced to give birth in hospitals even if they'd wanted to give birth at home. Also, women whose pregnancies come out of the blue often hadn’t even thought about giving birth, let alone where. They often need a bit more time to get their heads around the pregnancy first before making that decision. That is why it is good to know that you can change your mind at any stage during your pregnancy.
About a third of women in the US need or opt for a cesarean section. This group, by default, will have a hospital birth, as will those who go over term and need to be induced.
While less than 1% of babies in the US are born at home, it is still an option for pregnant women. In other western countries, it is a much more common practice to deliver at home with the assistance of a midwife. For instance, in the Netherlands, about 20% of women opt for a home birth. In western countries, midwives will say it is only an option for women who have had uneventful pregnancies.
For women who do not want to give birth at home but also do not want to give birth in a hospital, birth centers are an option. A birth center is not a mini-hospital, but many birthing centers are near or part of a hospital, facilitating easy access to medical care in case of an emergency.
Whatever option you go with, make sure that it is an informed decision. Discuss with your partner and work on your birth plan beforehand.