Parent Time

Birthing Centers: Finding the Best Healthy, Comfortable Childbirth Options

Many pregnant women don’t know that when it comes to giving birth they have another option: rather than doing time at the hospital, you may decide to have your baby in a birthing center. Birthing centers are the latest advance in pregnancy and childbirth support: they provide information, caring professional staff and medical backup for women who want to have their babies in natural, comfortable surroundings, with a midwife and doula in attendance rather than a doctor. One of the benefits of attending a birthing center is that, rather than the physician making the most important decisions, you can. Birthing centers let women wear their own clothes, eat and drink during labor, and choose the procedures that make them feel most relaxed and cared for. In the case of Cesarean sections or epidurals, birthing center comforts translate to significantly fewer surgical procedures, less physical stress on new mothers and babies, and much quicker recovery times. Most birth center costs are covered by the major insurance companies.

Midwives Offer Natural and Healthy Childbirth Options

Until the end of WWII, giving birth was often done at home, but after the war, ideas about childbirth changed: what was once considered normal and natural became “obstetrics”; sets of medical procedures, accompanied by surgery, sedation and plenty of rules, often enforced by busy nurses. When having a baby poses some threat to the mother or infant, it makes sense to take the mother-to-be to the hospital, but in about 88% of cases, births can be easily handled by midwives and caring support staff. Birthing centers let women in good health have their children in a supportive environment, without the stress of spending time in the hospital. Pleasant rooms, food and beverages, Jacuzzi baths and massage are just some of the comforts offered at birthing centers. Birthing centers also allow women to choose the way they want to deliver: whereas hospitals may only allow one other person in the delivery room, birthing centers try as much as possible to keep families together.

Birth Plans to Avoid Medication and Drugs

Different birthing centers have different capabilities when it comes to providing medication such as anesthesia during labor: most birthing centers are staffed by nurse practitioners or have a doctor on staff (or closely associated) so if a woman requests pain medication, it’s available at the center. According to the American Association of Birthing Centers, 12% of women who plan to give birth at a center are at some point transferred to a hospital, but only 2% are considered emergency transfers. If you’re concerned about the availability of drugs or medicine, make sure to ask about the availability of pain medication when visiting birth centers.

Choosing natural childbirth is possible for most deliveries; doulas may use warm compresses, heating pads and other simple, effective measures to ease pain. Many women also find that the “usual” hospital position for giving birth (on your back with your knees up) isn’t nearly as comfortable or as effective as other positions: the “on your back” position was most likely created to make it easier for doctors to reach the baby at delivery than for the ease of the woman in labor.

Get Education about Breastfeeding and Caring For Your Infant

But when you opt for a birthing center, you get more than a place to deliver: centers also provide pregnancy information, classes in labor and delivery, breastfeeding assistance, advice on how to care for your baby—all the education you need to make the best choices for yourself and your child.
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