What is a Freestanding Birth Center?
Birth Centers provide a homelike birthing alternative for healthy women deemed to be at low risk for complications. Freestanding birth centers are typically located outside the hospital setting (although some states allow for similar birthing units within a distinct area of the hospital). While several state and federal definitions exist, the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers definition announces “a homelike facility existing within a healthcare system with a program of care designed in the wellness model of pregnancy and birth. Birth centers are guided by the principles of prevention, sensitivity, safety, appropriate medical intervention, and cost effectiveness.”
In general, maternity care in freestanding birth centers is provided by midwives. The model of care employed by midwives typically results in interventions at lower rates; it provides an individual, rather than standardized, plan of care. Patients needing a higher level of care are transferred to the hospital.
A typical freestanding birth center provides the following services:
- Prenatal care,
- Labor and birth (no Cesarean section procedures), and
- Postpartum and newborn care.