The path to becoming a parent can be an intense time, with plenty of choices to be made along the way. Perhaps the biggest decision is choosing where you will deliver your baby and experience birth. Read on to find out more about your options and discover if a Birth Center is right for you!
What is a Birth Center?
A Birth Center is a freestanding healthcare facility that specializes in childbirth through the midwifery model of care. A Birth Center is different from a hospital in that it is smaller and designed to provide a homelike setting for birth. A Birth Center is designed for healthy women anticipating a low-risk, uncomplicated pregnancy and birth. The Birth Center setting is considered less formal than hospitals, allowing more people to be present for the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period, and offering personal attention and holistic, nurturing care.
A Birth Center is guided by the practice of midwifery care with sensitivity, safety, holistic intervention, and cost-effectiveness. The foundation of Birth Center care is respecting and empowering women to make informed decisions about their health and their baby’s health, based on their own values and expectations.
What are the benefits of a Birth Center?
Rather than viewing pregnancy as a problem or a medical diagnosis to be cured, a Birth Center treats pregnancy as normal, natural, and physiological. A Birth Center emphasizes preparing you and your partner to be self-reliant, confident, and well-informed in regards to your pregnancy, the birth process and postpartum period. It is our belief that this preparation and healthy mindset will lead to better health outcomes and greater satisfaction. Throughout your care, our midwives, birth assistants, and office staff work with you to discover what is important to you─your expectations, your values, your vision for your birth experience─and support you through the process!
Delivering your baby at a smaller location has the unique advantage of one-on-one care. As a client, you will be attended to by a midwife throughout your pregnancy and postpartum. During your delivery, your team of midwives and a birth assistant is focused solely on you! Midwives are present during all stages of labor, and care is delivered in a pleasant, private environment designed to make you feel at home. Mothers are encouraged to eat, drink, and move freely throughout labor, promoting comfort and autonomy. As the one in labor, you are in control! You can guide the labor experience, as our team supports and advocates for you to have the most safe and satisfying experience possible.
A Birth Center is designed to support natural childbirth, providing many options to aid labor, such as water birth, birthing stools, and a relaxing environment. Family involvement is encouraged, creating a safe setting for families to experience the emotionally rewarding experience of welcoming new life into the world. A Birth Center is lower in cost than hospitals, and the cost of care is given upfront and does not change!
Over decades of research and practice, a Birth Center has proved to be a feasible alternative to costly hospital care. The 2013 National Birth Center Study II found that low-risk birth center deliveries lead to lower Cesarean birth rates than low-risk hospital deliveries (Stapleton, Osborne & Illuzzi, 2013). Read on to see if you qualify for delivery at a Birth Center!
Who can give birth in a Birth Center?
Birth Centers are designed for healthy women anticipating a low-risk, uncomplicated pregnancy and birth. Candidates for a Birth Center delivery should expect a singleton pregnancy (meaning, no twins or multiple gestations). Conditions such as preterm birth, uncontrolled Gestational Diabetes, preeclampsia, or carrying past 42 weeks would disqualify you from delivering in a Birth Center. However, we can refer you to an OBGYN who shares the same values and can deliver your baby in the hospital.
Expectant mothers considering the Birth Center setting should also know that a Birth Center supports natural birth, which means epidurals, medical inductions, and interventions such as vacuum- or forceps-assisted delivery are not available. Instead, the birth team focuses on motivating the mother through physiological methods that do not risk the health of the baby. This may include breathing exercises, massages, water birth, and positioning changes to help alleviate pressure and discomfort.
A freestanding birth center is equipped to provide routine care and initiate emergency procedures. If complications occur during the delivery process, such as the need for a higher level of care, transfer to the nearby hospital will occur. A Birth Center is located close to higher level facilities for this reason, and birth center staff are specifically trained and prepared for this possibility.
Who staffs a birth center?
A Birth Center is staffed by licensed, qualified staff with a full understanding of the limits of midwifery care and insured for professional liability. As a client at our Birth Center, you will be attended to by a team of licensed midwives and experienced birth assistants. Throughout your prenatal care, you will become familiar with each member of our team. During your labor, your delivery team will not be strangers─they will be supporters you have already come to know and who know you!
Throughout your pregnancy, the birth center provides many services, including prenatal care, an assortment of childbirth education, preparation, and breastfeeding classes, one-on-one labor and delivery support and care, and postpartum support. During labor, midwives monitor the labor and well-being of both mother and baby during birth, and birth assistants assist the midwives and help with the birth process.
For more information on Birth Centers, visit here.