Transferring care to a birth center more than halfway through my pregnancy turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. All of the concerns I had about switching providers later in pregnancy turned out to be myths, as you’ll read below!
“I won’t have time to get to know my midwives.” I easily spent more time with my midwife in my first appointment at a birth center than I did with my prior provider in the first 20-plus weeks of my pregnancy. The amount of time the entire team – from midwives to office staff – will spend getting to know you, your family and your pregnancy will amaze you. With 30-60 minute appointments, there’s ample time to build a relationship and discuss any concerns you may have before birth. In a hospital setting you may rotate through several providers during a long labor or only see your OB for a short time during delivery. The midwifery model of care focuses on personalized and continuous support throughout labor, which has been shown to lead to better outcomes.
“It’s too late to make a completely new plan for my birth.” If you’ve been hearing, “we do/don’t allow,” or it seems taboo to bring up requests with your provider, or you’re feeling like you don’t really have input into your own birth experience, change providers! Shared decision-making is a key component in a client-focused environment. It’s a process where you work together to make evidence-based decisions that balance benefits and risks with your preferences and values. Birth center care is always personalized, and your midwife will help support your plan for your birth whether you started care at 4 weeks or 40 weeks.
“It will be too expensive.” While everyone’s financial situation is different, birth centers provide transparent billing practices, and care is often covered by insurance. The world of hospital billing is complex and can be full of hidden costs and surprise billing.
“I’m not going to fit in or be part of the community this late.” Birth center care is individualized – it’s not a cookie-cutter approach. With personalized childbirth education classes to fit your time table, you and your partner will feel more prepared to rock your birth than you ever thought possible. Community also rarely stops when your baby is born. Most birth centers welcome you back (even to visit the room where your baby is born for the sweetest photo op ever!). From postpartum and lactation support to community playgroups, well-woman and family care, the community bonds are so strong among birth center families that it becomes an extension of your support network. It’s a village that will love on you, lift you up and celebrate you and your family for years to come.
“A hospital is safer for my first birth.” The way you are made to feel during and after your birth will stay with you for the rest of your life. There is no do-over. Studies continually show that for healthy, low-risk people, birth centers are a safe (if not the safest) place to have a baby. And while they are home-like and rarely feel sterile or medical, they contain medical equipment and medications. Additionally, midwives are skilled medical professionals trained to handle complications of pregnancy or birth, such as shoulder dystocia, hemorrhage, or neonatal resuscitation.
If you know a birth center birth is right for you, I encourage you to follow that instinct now rather than waiting for the next one – even if you’re currently in your second or third trimester. Every birth matters and you deserve the very best start into the journey of parenthood.
Social Media Manager, Babymoon Inn
Michelle Petkovic received her degree in International Affairs from Sweet Briar College. She is a mother of one energetic toddler born at a birth center and loves spending time outside camping, hiking and traveling with her family.