What Are Freestanding Birth Centers?

How to Choose a Birth Center

When looking at birth centers, there a number of considerations to keep in mind. If possible, attend an orientation or request a tour of the facility. As you are walking through, ask yourself if you feel comfortable with the environment and the staff.
Some questions you may consider asking include:
  • What kind of experience and qualifications does the staff have?
  • Is the birth center accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation Association of Birth Centers, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, or the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care?
  • What happens if complications occur during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum?
  • How is labor pain managed? Are medications available, and how often would you receive them?
  • Do they perform water births? (See What's Involved With a Water Birth?)
  • How often are women transferred?
  • How long does it take to get to the backup hospital?
  • If a transfer is needed, will a midwife come with you? Does she have admitting privileges at the hospital or will she be there only for support?
  • Who is the backup physician?
  • What types of problems has the center encountered?
  • What type of care is provided postpartum?
  • How long will you stay after the baby is born?
  • What is the cost?
  • Will your health insurance cover your services?
You can also check out the Web site for the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) for a list of all accredited birth centers in the United States. If there is no birth center in your area, you may also see if there is a hospital-based midwifery practice that would work for you. You can get information on these practices from the American College of Nurse-Midwifes (ACNM).
Pregnancy and Pain

Pregnancy Info

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