Tonight we went to an orientation of a Birth Center located about 30 minutes from us (with no traffic). We gave ourselves an hour to get there after work, which to our surprise, was about 30 minutes too much since there was surprisingly little traffic this evening. We were the first couple to arrive and saw 6 straight couples and 1 single woman file in shortly after. The Birth Center is located in an auxiliary medical office building attached to a large hospital. The midwife told us that if emergency transfer is needed, it takes 3 minutes to get to labor & delivery in the hospital.
There are two birthing rooms, complete with homey furnishings and a jacuzzi tub (and they do allow water births). We found the midwife practice to be laid back and just medicalized enough to make us feel comfortable…not terribly nutty crunchy, not terribly “sterile” – a nice in-between. We stayed for about an hour, during which we got the tour and everyone asked lots and lots of questions.
They recommend that if you’re already under the care of an OB, that you transfer to their care after the midway point testing around 26-28 weeks. We were delighted to hear this, as we like our OB practice and the office hours and location of the Birth Center make it more inconvenient than where we normally go. But we were really pleased with the center and the ease of transfer if desired or necessary when in labor there. So when we switch over, it will probably be around 30 weeks.
We did our part in asking lots of questions, and some of the more interesting and important things we found out included:
- Their Caesarian rate is 14%, and most often because the baby is breech
- They do not have any drugs available if you stay at the Birth Center (but if you transfer to the hospital, you can get pain relief there)
- They do intemittent fetal monitoring by Doppler and they also have a basic ultrasound machine, primarily to verify baby position
- They do not offer childbirth classes, but you can take them through the hospital
- They have a doctor who is their Director at a Maternal Fetal Care Center who reviews their patients’ charts and makes recommendations
- If you are under the care of a midwife at the hospital, they will advocate for you to not receive an IV unless necessary
- They do not want you to come in until you are in active labor with strong contractions and cervical changes
- If you give birth at the Center, they send you home 4-6 hours after delivery (once the baby has successfully nursed and the birth mother has had a chance to rest) If you give birth in the hospital, you typically stay for 24 hours.
- If you give birth at the hospital, the pediatrician does neonatal testing/care, but if you give birth at the Center, you’ll need to see your Pediatrician within 24 hours. However, they do a newborn exam, eye exam and give vitamin K at the Birth Center.
Overall, we think it’s a good fit for our needs and desires. We hope to give birth in the Birth Center but are open to transferring to the hospital if needed. We’ve decided to cancel our tour of the hospital where our OB delivers, and instead sign up for a tour of the hospital connected to the Birth Center.