Assumption: Hospitals are safer places to give birth than birth centers.
This recent study found that giving birth in a midwife-run birth center is safe for women and babies.
I am pleased to see a study showing that birth centers run by midwives are a safe alternative to hospital birth for low-risk mothers and babies. Of course, hospital interventions have their place and for moms who are high-risk, it makes sense to be close to this medical help. However, most moms are not in this boat and being in a place that is more “homey” and comfortable can make birth a more pleasant experience for the whole family. My own birth center experience was so beautiful and peaceful. The statistics in this study show no maternal mortality and that 0.40 out of 1,000 births resulted in neonatal mortality. Across the US, the neonatal mortality number is 4 out of 1,000. (This does not necessarily mean that birth center births are safer because the US number includes high-risk babies who would not be eligible for birth in a birth center. However, it does show that for low-risk babies, birth centers are certainly safe.) Critics of this study point out that not all moms want to give birth in a low-tech (read: no epidural) setting and I agree. The study points out the cost savings of birthing in a birth center and that is not always relevant since there are numerous costs associated with medication choices that I believe women should retain. The important part to me is not the savings, but the fact that women who DO desire a birth center setting can rest assured that they are not putting their own lives or the lives of their babies at risk. Yes, problems can arise in labor, even in low-risk moms. The beauty of a good midwife is that she knows when a hospital transfer is necessary. This study showed that moms were transferred to the hospital when needed… and that is a good thing!
If you live here in San Antonio, I encourage you to check out our 2 birth centers. I think you’ll be impressed with what you see!