President, American Association of Birth Centers
While the majority of babies in the United States are born in hospitals, there is another option for women who wish to birth in a homelike setting but desire many of the resources and safeguards of a hospital: freestanding birth centers.
Freestanding birth centers are designed for healthy, low-risk women, seeking a natural birth experience under the care of midwives. Birth center midwives practice a wellness and holistic approach to pregnancy, birth, and women’s health care that is evidence based.
Advantages of a freestanding birth center
- Time-intensive care. In a freestanding birth center, midwives take time to answer your questions and respond to your individual needs, giving you confidence in your ability to give birth.
- Avoid a cesarean section. The national c-section rate for freestanding birth centers is 6 percent, compared with 32.7 percent for low-risk women in the hospital.
- Water birth. All freestanding birth centers offer water immersion in labor, and most (93 percent) offer water birth.
- Personalized, respectful care that balances human touch and technology.
- Variety of options for pain management. In a freestanding birth center, you have the freedom to find the positions and comfort measures that offer the most relief, including nitrous.
How to choose a freestanding birth center
- Check out their online reviews.
- Verify the birth center and its providers are licensed and that it is accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers (CABC).
- Ensure you understand the arrangements if you need to be transferred to the hospital. Ask for statistics on how often this happens.
- Confirm your health insurance will cover you and your baby’s care at a freestanding birth center.
Choosing where to give birth is a personal one. The environment and care provider you choose can make a significant difference in your birth outcome and how satisfied you are with your experience. If you want highly personalized care from a licensed midwifery professional with fewer routine interventions, then a freestanding birth center may be for you. Learn more and find a freestanding birth center at BirthCenters.org.