A birthing center can be thought of as a compromise between a home birth and a hospital birth. It has elements of both. Most birthing centers are “free-standing,” which simply means they are not attached to a hospital. Some birthing centers are affiliated with a hospital and attached thereto.
Birthing centers offer a roomy, home-like room with a bed, chairs, a table, and other furnishings. The birth rooms are usually decorated in soft colors. Some have kitchens and nearly all have Jacuzzis or hot tubs for the laboring mother. The professional staff are generally composed of midwives and few if any physicians are present. Many birthing centers will have a relationship with an obstetrician should the need arise.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Birthing Center?
There are certainly both positive and negative aspects of giving birth in a birthing center. Here are some of them.
* A home-like setting offers many women security and enables them to relax.
* A birthing center gives the mother control of her birth; she can decide who comes and goes in her room, and who may be present for the birth.
* Interventions are few and far between, helping alleviate fears of unwanted procedures.
* Midwives are trained professionals who know how to recognize a true emergency, and how to handle typical birth issues.
* The laboring mother can eat, drink, use the toilet, etc. whenever she wants.
* The mother will not have to worry about cleaning up her house after the birth.
* Free movement by the mother is allowed; she can assume whatever position is comfortable, and walk around or be still.
* There is no doctor present, so if a surgeon or obstetrician is needed, the mother will need to be transported. (Most birthing centers do work in conjunction with an OB, but he or she is not regularly on the premises.)
* If the laboring woman decides she needs pain medication or an epidural, she will have to be transported.
* Most birth centers ask that a mother leave the facility soon after birth, usually after only six to ten hours.
* There are no anesthesiologists at the birth center, and no anesthesia is offered.
* Not all insurance programs cover birthing centers, and/or there might not be one in your area.
It’s also worth noting that, depending on the individual, some of the pros may be cons and vice versa! For example, you might consider being able to leave the facility shortly after birth a real asset; another woman may think that’s a real drawback. Nonetheless, birthing centers do offer many of the amenities of home while providing the skill of professional midwives.