#19 What to Look For in a Birthing Center

As you plan your pregnancy, you are probably considering how and where you would like to deliver. An increasing number of women are choosing birthing centers for their deliveries. In 2020, there were 384 freestanding birthing centers in the United States. In addition to midwives offering home births, birthing centers offer another choice for women seeking deliveries with a minimum of technological intervention.

The place you will be selecting is very important because you, as the mother, need to be in an environment where you will feel safe and comfortable. If you are interested in having your baby at a place with less intervention in your labor process than at a hospital, a birthing center may be the birthing environment you want.

What Are Birthing Centers?

At birthing centers women are allowed to let labor progress naturally without the push for induction to hurry up the process. In the U.S., 98 percent of women deliver in a hospital, but the number of women choosing home births or birthing centers for delivery is growing.  With fewer of the interventions common in hospitals, women delivering in birthing centers have fewer of the kinds of injuries such as infection and postpartum hemorrhage associated with hospital-based interventions such as inductions and C-sections.

Birthing centers don’t just offer an alternative delivery option. They often also offer counseling, prenatal care, postpartum care, breastfeeding classes, and more.

What Should You Look For In Birthing Centers?

Before you settle on a birthing center, you should ask a number of questions to be sure the center offers the kind of care you are looking for.

  • Is the birthing center licensed?

States license birthing centers just as they license hospitals. The state license indicates the facility is fit for operations before issuing a license. A licensed birthing center means that the staff is accredited, the building is updated according to the fire and safety regulations, and the center is outfitted with everything you need for your delivery.

Not all birthing centers are independent. Be aware that many large hospitals have birthing centers associated with them in facilities separate from the hospital.

  • What services do birthing centers offer?

Birthing centers provide a place where mothers can learn about the whole pregnancy process, including  how to take care of your baby once it is born. In birthing centers, these classes helping to prepare you for motherhood can be offered alongside the usual prenatal and postnatal care. This helps familiarize yourself with the staff that will probably be by your side as you give birth.

Ask Questions About Your Birthing Center

When you are interviewing your obstetrician on your first visit, you might ask if he or she works with any birthing centers. Or if not, could your physician recommend a birthing center? While birthing centers provide much of their care through midwives, there is usually a physician associated with them.

Your delivery is an experience you want to be special. Not only is it the time when you get to meet your baby, but it is also a time when you officially become a parent. Your chosen birthing center is a part of that memory, so it would be best to ask the questions you need to so you are confident that it is the perfect center for you.