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What Is A Birth Center?

Did you know that 12,000 mothers don’t give birth in a hospital every year?

Women who want to be in control of their birth experience are gravitating to holistic birthing centers. These medical centers are becoming increasingly popular because they offer a natural, customizable approach to labor and delivery. They also encourage the mother to be the decision-maker throughout her entire birthing experience. You want to do random yoga poses on the floor to help with contractions? A birthing center has got you covered!

Many women feel safer in the hospital where they can access pain medication and instant support if their delivery becomes complicated, but other women feel safer in a room where they call the shots for their delivery and can listen to their bodies instead of following hospital protocol. These women like to eat when they feel hungry, move around to manage pain, or have their other children present for the birth, which is not always encouraged at hospitals.

If you are a woman who wants a surreal birth experience, then read on to learn what a birth center has to offer! Remember, there is no right or wrong way to deliver your baby. Every woman has a different tolerance of pain, different needs, and different visions of how she wants her birth experience to go.

NOTE: when considering a birth center, always talk to your doctor. If you have a high-risk pregnancy or are carrying multiples, a birthing center will not accept you. Birth centers only accept low-risk, healthy pregnancies.

What Is A Birthing Center?

Birthing centers are different from hospitals in that they are midwife-managed and operated. Midwives are highly trained pregnancy and delivery experts. In European countries, doulas and midwives deliver babies instead of OB-GYNS. In the United States, it is common to see a midwife present at a hospital to act as a birth coach and personal mediator between the mother and the hospital staff. They are fully licensed to deliver a baby and are trained to know when a mother/baby needs a doctor to intervene medically. Usually, doctors like pediatricians and OB-GYNS are on call at birthing centers, and all centers are located close to a hospital for safety. According to

“The American Association of Birth Centers defines a birth center as a home-like setting where care providers, usually midwives, provide family-centered care to healthy pregnant women. Most birth centers are located separately from hospitals, while a few are physically inside hospital buildings. In-hospital birth centers must meet certain standards for independence and must be separate from the Labor and Delivery unit in order to be considered true birth centers.

Pregnancy and childbirth are healthy, normal life events for most women and babies. In birth centers, midwives and staff hold to the "wellness" model of birth, which means that they provide continuous, supportive care and interventions are used only when medically necessary.”

These centers focus on the power of a woman’s body to naturally control pain and be in touch with her birthing experience. They want mothers to understand birth in a profound, meaningful way. Most women who choose these centers have a surreal birth experience that includes and welcomes the whole family.

Reasons To Choose A Birthing Center

There are many other reasons women choose birthing centers and they include:


In a birthing center, you can give birth in a pool, on your knees, or squatting. But in a hospital, they follow protocols which usually include giving birth on your back. For women with high pain tolerances who want to experience birth in a surreal way, a birth center will assist your body to do so in the position you feel most comfortable in. Hospitals are not equipped for this kind of birthing experience because mothers are typically hooked up to monitors and IV fluids. It’s dangerous and uncomfortable to move around if you are hooked up to machines, which brings us to the next point...

No Hooks, Needles, Monitors, or Cables

One of the most popular reasons mothers chooses birth centers is because they don’t hook you up to machines during labor. This gives her more freedom to move about the room as her body needs to and get into a variety of birthing positions for pain management and comfort. It’s also great for women who hate needles--you won’t be required to have an IV (but centers do have them if a medical need should arise.)

Cost Efficiency

The birthing center experience is considerably cheaper than hospital birth. Mothers usually leave after 4-8 hours after giving birth, which means you won’t be paying for 3 days of a hospital stay. A birthing center birth can be $3-4000 while a hospital stay without insurance can cost around $20,000 in some places! Hospitals do offer forgiveness plans and payment plans or accept emergency Medicaid, but for most, a birth center might be the most cost-effective option.

Birth Centers Are Fancy

Want a lush, comfy, home-like experience? Even though they are less expensive than a hospital, birth centers provide all the comforts of home and are not sterile like hospital rooms. Also depending on your insurance and part of the country, not all hospital rooms are private. Birthing rooms are private, however, and are equipped with a birth jacuzzi tub, birthing balls, stools, and space for you to walk around as you labor. They also include a queen bed, tv, and sofas so you have room for the whole family! They allow you to play your own music, diffuse oils, hang pictures, and some even have kitchens if your family gets peckish during your labor!

Family First, Family Together

Birthing centers pride themselves on family unity, so when it comes time for aftercare, the baby always stays with you in the comfort of your arms or in the room. In a hospital, the baby will go to another room or nursery for their checkup, shots, and bath, but at a birth center, the whole family is there for everything the baby experiences and the baby can benefit from immediate skin to skin with the mother.

The Downsides To A Birth Center

While birth centers are growing in popularity, there are a few things they don’t do as well as a hospital. These include:

Centers Don’t Usually Offer Pain Medication

Because birth centers are holistic, this means they want you to control pain with breathing techniques, positions, and affirmations. If a woman decides she needs pain medication after labor has started, she will have to be transferred to the hospital. This can be disorienting and jarring for mothers who don’t prepare themselves mentally for the unexpected. While only 2% of birthing center patients need a transfer to the hospital, it does happen. Women are only transferred because of an emergency or because she asks for an epidural. If you choose a birthing center, mentally prepare for this scenario just in case you find yourself in the hospital for an emergency or severe pain management and your dreams of a “surreal birthing center experience” are dashed.

Center Shortages

Another downside to birth centers is that there is a shortage. These centers are in high demand so it may be difficult to secure a bed for your labor, there may be a waiting list, or there may not be one in your town at all. And because they are a newer concept in America, insurance might not cover the cost of a birth center. Call your company to see what they do cover for pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

For more information about giving birth and free birthing education, contact us on our website to make a free appointment!

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