Women across the United States are becoming more attracted to the idea of having their natural childbirth experience in a free-standing birth center. Those with low-risk pregnancies want to avoid interventions like epidurals and cesarean sections that are more common in hospital settings. This desire to reclaim control over how their birth will go developed into a movement. It is more common now to find women interested in a more holistic and less mechanical process. They actively seek out birth centers as alternative choices to traditional settings.
The quality of care in birth centers has remained consistent. As of 2013, the National Birth Center Study II reported that 84% of women admitted to a birth center gave birth at the same location. Regardless of the setting, 93% of women enrolled for birth center care had a spontaneous vaginal birth. That same study found no maternal deaths out of the 15,574 women studies that planned and were eligible for birth center birth at the onset of labor. The cesarean section rate for women receiving care in birth centers averages 6.1%, approximately one half that in studies of low-risk, in-hospital births.
Here are some of the reasons for choosing a birth center may be the right move for your natural childbirth.
You want a water birth
Being submerged, fully or partially, during labor is an excellent pain reliever. It allows for more natural movement and soothes anxiety by promoting better blood flow and energy. As you become more relaxed during your childbirth, you lower stress levels that may lead to a much healthier outcome for your infant. Most free-standing birth centers offer a water birth option by using a large tub that can fit 3-4 people if needed. This way your birth partner can be in the water with you offering support and your midwife, or care provider, can observe what they need during the actual birth. There are even some hospitals that are choosing to offer water birth options because of the popularity and reduction in unnecessary interventions.
You want a natural birth
This is probably the biggest reason people seek out free-standing birth centers. Women are feeling more empowered to make up their own minds on what is best for their bodies. They choose the birth plan they think will best suit their lifestyle and they want their opinions trusted and heard by their provider. The best way to ensure their voice is heard is by using a birth team at a birth center. That will typically include a doula or birth assistant, midwife, birth partner, and any other person the mom wants present. This team works together to ensure mom’s choices are respected while still maintaining an appropriate medical response to anything that may come up. Few, if any, interventions are utilized and mom is given the time she needs to go through her natural childbirth without the timeline of a hospital setting.
You want a more holistic approach
Birth centers focus on the whole woman and not just the procedure that is occurring. They will be involved in your diet, exercise, mental wellness, emotional needs, and spiritual goals. They want you to feel thoroughly cared for and relaxed so that your natural birth goes as smoothly as possible. The setting is far more comfortable than most hospitals and the people are more willing to listen to your needs because natural childbirth is their primary focus. This freedom of choice gives you a far less stressful environment.
You’d like a more fiscally responsible option
It is no secret that healthcare in the United States can be expensive. The average cost of a hospital birth without complications and receiving no prenatal care is $10,808. That cost can leap to $30,000 when factoring in the care provided before and after pregnancy, and that doesn’t include whatever interventions are introduced regardless of need. The average cost of a birth center, which typically contains prenatal and some postnatal care, is $3,000-$5,000 in total. There is usually a midwife and birth assistant worked into that cost and a lot more freedom for the mom on how to pay and help with lactation.
If you’re interested in a natural birth at a birth center, you should give them a call first. Ask them about their prenatal plan and if they have emergency procedures in case something goes wrong. Make sure your insurance covers their services and any other services that may pop up. Take a tour and get a feel for the location to make sure it is a fit for your goals. Don’t be afraid to ask any question you may have most birth centers are happy to answer. Always check to make sure the midwife and staff are licensed and accredited. This way you’ll feel more at ease about your decision process.
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