Is a Birth Center Right for Me?
Many families that we meet with have no idea that birthing at a Birth Center is an option. Some have never even heard of this gentle space! In this post, our goal isn’t to sway you toward one specific path. Instead, it is to educate you on the fact that your birth can happen in a variety of settings. It’s up to you to choose what honors you and your journey best. Ready to learn more?
Birth Center Facts
A birth center is a health care facility for childbirth where care is provided in the midwifery and wellness model. A birth center is freestanding and not a hospital.1 According to the National Partnership for Women & Families2, Birth Centers can:
- emphasize individualized rather than standardized care
- offer the midwifery model of care, saving doctors for high-risk and/or need births
- provide care based on what you need and prefer, and avoid the routine use of interventions.
- welcome birthing people and mothers to rely more on the body’s own healthy processes than the facility’s technology. (Overall, this means many types of interventions are less common in birth centers.)
- have staff available to give you continuous physical, emotional and informational support during your labor and birth, and to support your companions as well. (You may be the only one there in labor, and the staff is less likely to be focused on managing technology than in hospitals.)
As an important note, Birth Centers can and do vary in what kind of tests and procedures are offered, standards of care – including policies that may require you to transition to hospital care, back up and on call midwifery care options, and access to remedies and medications that can support labor. Asking questions of your potential location and provider is invaluable when making the decision to move forward with care.2
Who is the best candidate for a birth center birth ?
If you are considering midwifery care, a birth center might be right for you.3 A birth center birth experience is an excellent option for lower risk clients including VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) clientele, as midwives have long been taking care of perinatal bodies. In fact, up until the last 100 years or so, midwives were the only professional taking care of mothers and birthing people. While some folks absolutely need access to hospital-based interventions, most do not. This means that while only 20,000 births per year happen at birth centers (0.5% of all births in the United States), many, many more births could potentially be a great fit for families that desire hands-on (or off) birthing.4
Above, birth workers gather to celebrate new ownership for The Birth Nest. New Phase at The Birth Nest is a beautiful Birth Center located in the historic downtown Glendale. Pictured are Alyssa Leon, owner Cherry Blossom Doula Services, midwife Laura Correia, new owner, Marianna Holland, CNM, and midwife Wendi Cleckner, co-owner of Tempe Birth Center.
Freestanding birth centers like New Phase, Tempe Birth Center, Willow Midwife Center for Birth and Wellness, Babymoon Inn and Blossom Birth Center often offer a home-like environment, and many are in fact formerly homes.
Is it too late to change my plans?
In most scenarios, you can change your plans of where to birth up until you have actually given birth. We highly recommend researching, touring and interviewing providers and locations as soon as you know what your desires are as far as where (home, birth center or hospital) and how you would like to birth (e.g. tub, shower, bed, interventions or no interventions, etc.).
We’ve seen firsthand that the lower your stress level (choosing a location sooner than later when possible), the better you’ll feel in pregnancy, labor and postpartum.
On this note, if you are still uncertain of where you want to birth your baby or babies, talk to your doula. There is power in having an educated birth professional by your side! Your doula will lovingly listen to your questions and respond without bias on what options might be best for you. You can trust that your birth doula is simply here to ensure you make the best decision for you. And, to walk with you toward not only your best birth experience, but postpartum and life.
- American Association of Birth Centers
- National Partnership for Women & Families
- The Midwives Model of Care
- Should You Give Birth at a Birth Center?
Hi! I’m Alyssa Leon. I lead Cherry Blossom Doula Services, LLC – an inclusive birth + postpartum doula team in Arizona; and mentor doulas in Arizona and beyond.