What is a Birth Center? A Birth Center is an innovation in the delivery of care to healthy, childbearing women and families. According to the American Association of Birth Centers, it is a health care facility for childbirth where care is provided in the midwifery and holistic wellness model. A Birth Center is freestanding and not a hospital. The Birth Center respects and facilitates a woman’s right to make informed choices about her health care and her baby’s health care based on her values and beliefs. The woman’s family, as she defines it, is welcome to participate in the pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period.
A Holistic Program
It begins with your first prenatal visit. You receive personalized, family-centered care from holistic, professional health care providers. The Birth Center provides a program of education for pregnancy, nutrition, birth, labor support, baby care, and general women’s health. Birth Centers facilitate a team of highly qualified professionals from midwifery, nursing, obstetrics, family medicine, pediatrics, nutrition, physical fitness, childbirth, and parenting education.
Comprehensive Midwifery Care
Midwifery is different from obstetrics. Midwifery care is provided by professionally trained midwives or doctors who practice a holistic wellness approach to pregnancy, birth, and women’s health care. While the practice of midwifery and the support of physiologic birth and newborn transition may occur in other settings, this is the exclusive model of care in a Birth Center.
A Nurturing Place
You will have a private room for giving birth as you want. Make yourself comfortable, wear your own clothing, eat when you feel hungry, soak in a tub or have a water birth. The Birth Center approaches pregnancy and birth as a normal family event, bringing generations together to celebrate new life by encouraging grandparents and children to participate in the miracle of childbirth. The program encourages family involvement and provides a safe environment for families to experience the social, emotional, and spiritual renewal inherent in birthing. Birth Centers welcome your children, your parents, and friends so you can decide who will be with you or near you as you give birth.
An Integrated Part of the Health Care System
Birth Centers are an integrated part of the health care system and are guided by principles of prevention, sensitivity, safety, appropriate medical intervention and cost-effectiveness. You receive a complete network of maternity and women’s health services including: routine laboratory testing, ultrasounds, consultations with physicians as necessary and transfer to a hospital if the need should arise. Birth Center care is covered by most major health insurance plans.
Better Outcomes, Lower Costs
Freestanding Birth Centers achieve better outcomes than hospitals on quality measures such as cesarean rate for low risk women, elective delivery prior to 39 weeks, and breast-feeding. Birth Centers are a safe option for women experiencing a low risk pregnancy. Most significantly, Birth Centers use fewer medical interventions; this saves health dollars and reduces the risk of complications.
A new report from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), a branch of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), recommends freestanding birth centers as part of the solution to reduce potential poor outcomes, and are shown in this report to reduce preterm birth by 26% compared to matched groups of women with usual care. The report demonstrates birth center care has a larger potential impact on the reduction of preterm birth risk than any other recent medical or public health intervention.
Furthermore, according to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the costs of normal birthing care at Birth Centers in the United States have averaged as much as 50% less than the equivalent charges for an uncomplicated birth in the hospital.
The Birth Center. There is a difference.