In New Zealand, women generally have three options to choose from when considering where they would like to give birth.
Birthing in hospital
The main advantage of birthing in a hospital is that you will have access to specialised care should it become neccessary during labour and birth. You will also have access to a full range of pain relief options including epidural and pethadine, and many hospitals offer facilities to provide for water births.
However some women find hospitals intimidating, or too 'medicalised' and prefer to birth in a more personal environment.
Birthing at a birthing centre
This is almost the median between birthing at home and birthing in a hospital - you have greater, faster access to emergency services than if you were to deliver at home, but the environment is more natural, calmer, quieter and less 'medical' than a hospital setting. However, you will not have access to an epidural, and should complications arrive you will need to be transferred to a hospital.
Birthing at home
Some women prefer to birth at home in an environment that is familiar to them, and feel more relaxed during labour and birth if they are home. Home births are generally considered safe for women who have already had one or more complication-free birth, however if you are expecting your first baby and would like to have a home birth you should discuss this with your LMC. If any complications arise during labour and birth you will need to transfer to a hospital so it is important to consider how quickly this can be done should the need arise. If you live a long way from the nearest hospital your LMC might advise against a home birth. Your pain relief options will be limited to natural therapies such as water, aromatherapy and massage.