What Are Freestanding Birth Centers?

Are You a Good Candidate for a Freestanding Birth Center?

If you are interested in a freestanding birth center for the birth of your child, you may be wondering if you qualify to attend one. To start, you may try calling a birth center in your area and talking to one of the caregivers about your health history and your desires for childbirth. They will ask you about any pre-existing medical problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, and whether you have had any type of uterine surgery in the past, like a C-section.
If you do not have any major risk factors that would require a hospital birth, you can set up an appointment for a prenatal visit at the freestanding birth center. During this visit, a midwife or physician will obtain a thorough health history, perform a complete physical exam, and order any laboratory work that may be necessary.
If problems come up at any time during your pregnancy, your care provider may determine that it would be safer for you to give birth in a hospital and they will transfer you. Some of the factors that would require a hospital birth include:
Approximately one in eight women who start labor in a birth center end up transferring to a hospital. In most of these cases, it is because the labor isn't progressing and oxytocin is necessary. Before you decide whether you would like to give birth in one of these centers, it's a good idea to ask yourself how you would cope with an unexpected, last-minute transfer to a hospital or different care provider.
(Click Are Home Births Safe? for more detailed information on the studies that have been done on the safety of home births, hospital births, and freestanding birth center births.)
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