Building Birth Centers and Community Support

Building Birth Centers and Community Support

Recently, we launched an Indiegogo campaign to help raise funds to support expansion to Tucson – a city of more than 500,000 people left without a freestanding birth center after the closure of the beloved El Rio Birth Center earlier this year. We heard and felt the heartbreak from the Tucson community upon suffering this loss and decided, after almost 10 years as a singular location in Phoenix, to expand to Tucson and fulfill the need for a freestanding birth center.

Anyone who has ever set foot in a birth center knows they are an integral part of communities. And they often rely on community support to be born and subsequently thrive. We see building a birth center as the modern-day equivalent of a barn-raising, where people come together to create something that is vital to their community. It truly takes a village, and we are grateful for the support in many forms that we have received thus far!

A few things to understand about birth centers and why we are asking for community support through a fundraising campaign to get Babymoon Inn of Tucson off the ground:

Birth center profits are lower than most healthcare organizations, including not-for-profit organizations. Most birth centers earn no profit for the first couple of years, and when a profit margin shows up, it almost always goes toward program development. In 2018, eight accredited birth centers in the United States closed. So far in 2019, eight more accredited birth centers have closed, with a ninth announcing their closure after 13 years in operation literally as we were writing this post.

Obtaining funding for birth centers is difficult. We are not attractive to private investors for start-up money because we are too small, don’t have rapid growth opportunities, are not quickly scalable, and are not a well-understood service or industry. (How many of you struggled to get your friends or family to understand why you chose a birth center? Now try explaining it to them and asking them to invest money on top it! 😂)

Birth centers provide extensive community support and services, much of which is provided at no charge to the clients and solely at the expense of the birth center.  At Babymoon, we frequently discount, extend payment plans, and provide pro bono services for families with financial hardship.  These services are not subsidized by grants or foundations who support our organization. They come directly out of our bottom line.  This philosophy is shared by every member of our team, who frequently volunteer their time and talents to serve our community – offering free classes, providing pro bono doula services, speaking in high school and college classes, making meals for new or bereaved parents, and donating their time in countless other ways.

While some birth centers have chosen to be not-for-profit entities, Babymoon has not. This was a well-researched and thoughtfully made choice upon our opening in 2010. Non-profit organizations are governed by a Board of Directors who retain ultimate decision-making power. If profit margins are too low or consistently in the negative, the board may choose to shut the business down. This has happened to many, many not-for-profit birth centers. Babymoon’s founders didn’t and don’t want to put control of so many people’s care into someone else’s hands. Deciding against being a non-profit was a purposeful choice that doesn’t prevent or stop our desire to help underserved populations and make birth center and midwifery care attainable for all.

We wish people were lining up in droves to open birth centers all over the country. And we wish investors were pounding on our doors wanting to help fund them! The reality is that freestanding birth centers are usually created and staffed by people who are simply passionate about the model of care and willing to work twice as hard for a lesser profit margin.

We hope you will join us in our “barn-raising” and help bring a freestanding birth center back to Tucson! If you would like to contribute, please find our Indiegogo link here. To join our mailing list, please click here.

Thank you for your support!

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Director of Education, Babymoon Inn

Diana Petersen received her journalism degree at the University of Arizona and her Master’s degree in education at Northern Arizona University.  She is a DONA-certified doula and Lamaze-certified childbirth educator at Babymoon Inn, an accredited birth center and full-scope midwifery practice in Phoenix, Arizona.

Birth Center:  More than a facility!

Birth Center: More than a facility!

When I first experienced the birth center model of care as a client, I was so focused on the excellent prenatal care and different model for birth that I did not realize “birth center” encompasses so much more.  As we explored the model of care in our start-up phase looking at other birth centers, the depth of the community support and access point for the medical system was our goal.

The Business of Being Born recently featured the Health Foundations Birth Center in Minnesota, who has beautifully achieved this “birth center” model of care with the depth of services that have come to define the birth center experience.  Amy Johnson-Grass, the birth center’s founder and the current President of the American Association of Birth Centers explains:

We are unique because we are a lot more than just a birth center and midwifery practice. We are truly an integrative practice with a huge spectrum of offerings on-site.  We are not only familiar with herbs, homeopathy, nutrition, and counseling, but we are also prescribers. Plus, we have other providers that work with us too, like chiropractors and acupuncturists.  We’re a lactation center. We’re an education center with lots of different class offerings. And, we offer quite a few services for women, outside of maternity care, like annual exams, problem visits, and contraception offerings. This continuity of care (even extending to their kids with our Pediatricians!) really allows for us to focus on community building, which is so important because so many of us lack it. So we hold many events to continue and build those connections ranging from larger gatherings like Every Woman Can to smaller retreats, family picnics, and annual Valentine’s Day party…during Christmas we have about 100 kids come through to see Santa!

Read the entire interview and see more photos of the beautiful birth center.

Pin It on Pinterest