Introduction to Birth Centers...

What is a Birth Center?


A birth center is a place that is licensed by the state to give prenatal care to pregnant women and to deliver their babies in an "out-of-hospital" location.

A birth center works under the laws of the state. They are inspected annually by the Agency for Health Care Administration, the state Health Department, and the Fire Department.

A birth center is equipped to give standard prenatal care to low-risk pregnant women including labs, ultrasounds, wellness checks, IV's, prescriptions, and education regarding pregnancy and birth.

Birth at a birth center is completely natural. There is no labor induction or augmentation and there are no epidurals or drugs for pain relief during labor.

image What you will find at a birth center is lots of loving care. Women in labor are free to eat, drink, walk around and assume whatever position helps them. There are Jacuzzis, showers, massages, music, movies, and hands on coaching. There is family and friends present whenever she wants them. There is a midwife/midwifery student there as little or as much as she wants or needs. There is regular monitoring of the baby and mom and lots of encouragement.

At a birth center, as long as everything is progressing normally, the woman is in charge. She can decide where she wants to be and what help she wants.

In the majority of cases, birth centers are staffed and run by midwives.

What is a Midwife?

image A midwife is someone who has completed years of specialized schooling that focuses on pregnancy and birth. It is someone who has passed national testing (Boards) and qualified for licensure. A midwife is licensed by the state.

A midwife must carry malpractice insurance and purchase all the equipment and supplies necessary to care for a pregnant woman from conception, through birth, to 6 weeks post partum.

A midwife is someone who is willing to get up at 3:00 am to be with a laboring woman for 6 hours or 36 hours and then stay with her for 4-5 hours after the baby is born. Then when the family goes home, the midwife cleans the room and prepares for the next woman.

A midwife is someone willing to miss her family's anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, etc. to be with a mom in labor and birth.

Having prenatal care and birth with a midwife at a birth center is an alternative choice for birth.

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