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  • Writer's pictureSandy Glenn, LM MBC

Not all Birth Centers are the Same; Know Your Birth Center.

True Free-Standing Birth Centers (TRSBC) can be difficult to find. Just a few years ago, Certified Professional Midwives with training in out-of-hospital childbirth, were the primary care providers at most Birth Centers and almost all of the centers were privately owned and operated. But things are changing.

Hospitals have begun to advertise that they offer water births. They may even own a facility that they call a ‘Birth Center.’ But is it really the same?

Since you are shopping for a Birth Center, we can assume that you would like to have your baby as naturally as possible and would like to avoid a cesarean section. Hopefully, you are healthy, take food-based prenatal vitamins, exercise, drink plenty of water and have researched birth and breastfeeding. Now you need to find a Birth Center that is also committed to natural childbirth.

What are the Signs that a Birth Center may have a Conflict of Interest?

Does a hospital own any financial stock in the Birth Center?

Does a hospital or hospital affiliated physician make or approve policies for the Birth Center?

Is the midwife at the Birth Center employed by a hospital or a physician?

Did the midwives receive most of their training in a hospital?

Does the Birth Center share staff with a hospital?

It is important to understand that hospital affiliated centers have limitations that do not usually apply to True Free-Standing Birth Centers. A TFSBC should not be restricted by policies created by a hospital or hospital affiliated physician. The midwives at a TFSBC should be free to help families make birth decisions based upon their individual needs and desires. After all, you are trying to choose a Birth Center birth, not just a miniature-hospital delivery.

What Should I Expect from a TFSBC?

You should know your midwives and be assured that the Birth Center does not have complicated “on-call” schedules or midwife rotations.

You should be offered a natural childbirth pain management class and encouraged to research and learn about birth. A Doula or Doula Service should be readily available.

Your prenatal appointments should feel like a “visit with your midwife,” not a rushed doctor’s appointment.

You should be encouraged to ask your midwife questions.

Preventative care instructions should be a priority at your prenatal appointments. Since only healthy moms deliver at Birth Centers, the midwife should be focused on helping you understand your healthy options.

You should be encouraged to participate in healthcare decisions including test like; Group B Strep, Glucose Tolerance, Ultra-Sounds and Newborn procedures.

Water Birth should be a common practice; not a novelty. They should be equipped with waterproof fetal monitors and should feel comfortable with intermittent monitoring.

You should be encouraged to eat, drink and stay mobile in labor.

Not all Birth Centers are the Same. Make good Choices.

Carolina WaterBirth has been privately owned for over 10 years. The owner, Sandy Glenn, LM CPM had the first water birth by a SC Licensed Midwife and has been encouraging water births for over 20 years. Birth Center Tours are Free. 864.329.0010

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