As an expectant mother, you have every right to ensure your labor and delivery will suit the needs of both you and your baby. Just shy of 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, meaning that countless mothers are faced with making these decisions on an annual basis. Those who are not wanting to deliver their baby at home and also who do not want to give birth at a hospital still have an option. This option is called a birthing center — and these facilities are equipped with professional staff and a comfortable birthing space for your family.
What is a Birthing Center?
Those who want to experience a more natural childbirth often choose to give birth at a birthing center, which can also be referred to as a maternity center. Birth centers are most often freestanding buildings, but they can sometimes be attached to hospitals. Those that help you give birth are referred to as midwives and are different than OB-GYNs. Although a birthing center’s primary use is to assist in the birthing process, they also offer other services. These services include exams, counseling, prenatal care, and women’s health education.
Is a Birthing Center Different Than a Hospital?
In a word, yes. Midwives provide your primary care at a birthing center. Although they may collaborate with other healthcare professionals, you will spend the most time with your midwife. Birthing centers have a feel that’s more akin to a bedroom than a hospital room. Procedures that are typical in a hospital setting may not be considered typical at a birthing center. For example, induction of labor is common practice at a hospital, but not so at a birthing center. This is why birth centers are considered to be a more natural option.
What Are Some Birth Center Advantages?
There are advantages to choosing a birthing center over a hospital. Before making a decision, it is important to assess your own individual needs and expectations when you are looking to find a maternity center. A few potential benefits include:
- You Will Be More ComfortableWhen you are looking to find a maternity center to fit your needs, you will want one that meets your requirements in order to be comfortable. Most birthing centers offer soft lighting and a larger bed than what hospitals offer. You will sometimes have the option of a bathtub with jets, as well as a shower. There is also usually additional seating for friends and family. You are often free and encouraged to make the room your own to make you as comfortable as possible during the process.
- You Will Have More FreedomWhen giving birth at a hospital, you will be faced with more restrictions than at a birthing center. This is especially true when it comes to eating and drinking. You are typically allowed to consume a light meal either during or after labor. If you give birth at a hospital, this would not be allowed. All food and fluids is not allowed when giving birth at a hospital. However, you are usually allowed to consume ice chips.
- You Will Not Need to Stay as LongMost birthing centers do not offer the same procedures or medical interventions that hospitals offer. Birthing centers will usually offer alternative forms of pain relief. This could be in the form of hydrotherapy or breathing exercises. For this reason, you will not need to stay as long at the birthing center to recover and can head home sooner.
When Should I Find a Maternity Center?
When it comes to giving birth at a maternity center, you will need to make a reservation. This is because birthing centers cannot handle the occupancy that a hospital can. You will want to reserve your spot as early as possible. Once you find a maternity center that you are interested in, it is always a good idea to schedule a tour to determine if this is the place for you and your newborn.