5 Surprising Facts About Midwife Birthing Centers

Inspiring 30

newbornIn a recent post I told my crazy labor story. Of course I was to have a healthy baby and no major medial issues for either of us. But I kept wondering if things would have been less chaotic for us if we'd been in a birth center instead of a hospital. My labor nurse and midwife were excellent and my husband was a first-rate labor coach. But since I was at a hospital, I was constantly being poked and probed and monitored in ways that I felt disrupted my (hellacious back) labor. I'd chosen a hospital birth because it just seemed like the safest choice, and my insurance would cover it.

Hopefully, the latest study on birth centers will change how we all see birth centers, and their affordability. More and more expecting moms are choosing to deliver at midwife-led birth centers. And it turns out, not only are they a lot safer than you'd think, they're also surprisingly affordable.

The American Association of Birth Center's study looked at 15,500 women planning for a birth-center birth in 33 states (and 79 different centers) from 2007-2010. Here's what they found.

  1. Emergency transfers from birth centers to hospitals are rare. Eighty-four percent of the women planning for a birth-center birth at the onset of labor gave birth there. Most who transferred before birth did so for non-emergency reasons (like prolonged labor). A tiny fraction, 2.5 percent, were transferred to a hospital after delivering.
  2. Birth centers have MUCH lower c-section rates. Almost all the moms, 93 percent, had a vaginal birth while only 6 percent had a c-section. Compare that with low-risk mothers who deliver their babies in a hospital: A whopping 27 percent of those births are via c-section.
  3. Infant mortality rates are about the same. Of the women admitted to birth centers in labor, there were only 14 stillbirths, and 9 babies died after birth. This is about the same as the national average for low-risk hospital births. Two of the babies who died had already been diagnosed with fatal conditions, and the mothers chose to carry out those sad births in a warmer, more home-like environment.
  4. There were no maternal deaths.
  5. Birth center births can cost nearly half as much as low-risk hospital births. The Medicare reimbursement for a hospital birth is around $3,998, but for a birth center, it's nearly half, $1,907. Obviously we aren't all on Medicare, but that gives you an idea of the difference in costs.

Of course, for us moms, that doesn't matter unless our insurance is covering that birth. Fortunately, the new Affordable Health Care Act mandates coverage for birth centers across the U.S. If more moms choose a birth center birth over a hospital birth, it could save Americans and insurance companies a lot of money. Best of all, moms and babies get high-quality care at birth centers.

Did you give birth at a birth center instead of a hospital? What was your experience like?


Image via eyeliam/Flickr

birth stories, delivery, labor & delivery, marinewifeyy


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

miche... micheledo

If we had insurance and it was covered, I would definitely consider a birth center.  As it is, we pay out of pocket, and having a midwife at home is much more affordable (though not the reason we have them at home).  I would love to see it cover midwives in your home too!!  Then a TON of money could be saved.  And a homebirth (planned as opposed to the surprise ones) is very safe too.

nonmember avatar Sirena

I am high risk, so it's not an option for me, no matter what. Severe PCOS and endometriosis mean nothing other than a hospital and constant monitoring for me. Even with twice weekly NSTs and ultrasounds, we still almost lost my little one to a leak at 36 weeks. She was literally being crushed by my uterus. No birthing centers for me.

Wheep... Wheepingchree

My health insurance (United Healthcare) covers birth centers AND a midwife-supported homebirth!  I had my first daughter at a hospital (which was terrible), but I plan on having my second baby at home.

tuffy... tuffymama

Hospitals suck. We need to eat clean food so our health is good, and we can have our babies at home.

nonmember avatar Gwen

I am planning to give birth (any day now) at a birth center with a midwife, and could not be more pleased with the level of care I have received so far. My insurance covers birth centers and midwives, but getting UnitedHealthcare to pay has been nothing short of a nightmare that will not be likely resolved until after the baby is born.

Casey Dalbey

I am broken hearted to learn recently that my state's medicaid program does not pay for a birth center. Since it starts at $4k for MT, I am stuck with the only option of going to the hospital and seeing an OB instead.

ToolA... ToolArmy066

My in laws wanted me to go to birth center but I didn't want too but also my dad was against it, being a paramedic for 30 something years and running calls to those places he advised I go to the hospital. I also had an awesome docter so that helped.

Flori... Floridamom96

Well, Casey, you could meet with the birth center and work out a way to pay for it yourself. They tend to be more affordable than you think and are usually willing to work with people.

jalaz77 jalaz77

Would LOVE a birth center. It's a happy medium for those couples who are not comfy with a home birth and don't want to be on a schedule at a hospital. See I am from the Midwest and we are dragging our feet on birth centers. Plus my ins will not cover it or a home birth. So hospital with a midwife is what it is. God I hope things change by the time my kids have kids.

nonmember avatar ChelleEloisa

My husband and I chose a birthing center for our first born; labored all day. Unfortunately, or son was presenting Frank Breech and we had a hospital emergency transfer and delivered him there. It all was very smooth and worked out just like we were told by our midwife for emergencies. The hospital stay afterwards was the nightmare! Our daughter was to be born at home with a midwife, not scared the last bit from our first experience. That, unfortunately, didn't work out either. She came 4 weeks early and legally home births or birthing center births cannot take place before 37 weeks. In both situations, the outcome wasn't planned or desired, but it was...I am glad to have tried these alternatives and would do the same in a heart beat again :)

1-10 of 30 comments 123 Last