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Do you want a positive and natural birth in a supportive environment? Are you afraid that a hospital will lead you down a slippery slope of unnecessary medical interventions, but don’t want to give birth at home? A birth center – described as a “birthing hotel” in some European countries – might be just what you are looking for!

Birth centers provide a home-like and comfortable atmosphere, and often have a wide range of “tools” that will enable you to labor and birth just how you feel most comfortable. From fancy Jacuzzis to birth in, to birth balls and birth stools, as well as double beds that are a far cry from hospital beds, many birth centers are a great match for any laboring woman, no matter how she feels most comfortable.

Some birth centers are “free standing”, meaning independent and fully staffed by midwives, while others are connected to a hospital or even located on hospital premises. Women choosing to birth at a freestanding birth center are most likely be delivering with midwives (CPMs or CNMs) who support natural birth. Giving birth at a birth center has the benefit of less pressure to be induced, no epidural or other drugs, and no interventions for which there isn’t a medical need.

With one in three American mothers giving birth by c-section now, the fact that birth center births are far less likely to end in a surgical birth is not unimportant! Because birth centers are generally not staffed by OBs, and those who do need c-sections have to transfer, unnecessary caesarian sections are practically eliminated. Still, shecking your birth center’s c-section rate (after transfer) will help assure you that you will not have c-section for which there is no medical need.

Because birth centers often monitor the baby’s heart beat with dopplers, and do not engage in continuous fetal monitoring, you will have the freedom to walk around in labor and change position as you please. Birth centers have skilled midwives trained in newborn resuscitation on staff, but they do not have extensive medical equipment available.

The chances are that you will feel great after your birth center birth, and that you and your baby will be able to head home very quickly post-partum! Hopefully, you will be left with a great memory of a great birth experience.

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