Birth centers (free standing) are often referred to as the happy medium between hospital and home birth. They are usually fully run by midwives (CNMs or CPMs), and incorporate many mother-friendly practices, which often looks like low interventions, full autonomy for the birthing person, trust in a women's body and ability, and facilitation of the natural progression of labor. Birth centers are designed to be a calm and inviting "home away from home", where you can go birth your baby in a comfortale space that feels less sterile and busy as a hospital. They usually also offer other services as well, such as well-women care (pap smears, STD testing, etc) and lactation services.
Rooms have full access to birthing tools such as a large tub, shower, birthing ball, birthing stool, etc. Generally, because certain routine procedures don't apply, you are "allowed" to do more in labor than in a hospital (such as have full mobility, the ability to eat and drink, and access to comfort tools at any time).
While birth centers don't have an OR, they are still stocked full of medical equiptment in case of any complication. However, since the administration of an epidural or narcotics requires more close monitoring, pain medications are not offered (Nitrous oxide is often available though!). Midwives are fully trained to recognize a potential emergency and have close contact with their local hospitals in the event of a transfer.
**Many birth centers are also allowing partners and doulas to be present in the room during the birth, where as many hospitals are still limiting support persons.
Birthing centers are a wonderful option for those who:
- Have had healthy, low risk pregnancies
- Don't want a hospital birth but aren't comfortable at home
- Want a more natural, low intervention approach
- Are planning to give birth without pain medications
-Want continuity of care (more likely your midwife throughout pregnancy will be there during your birth)
- Want freedom to go home soon afterwards
- Have insurance that covers a birthing center but not a homebirth
Included in this post are some freestanding birth centers in Sacramento! Did any local followers give birth there?