birth center

Birth Center vs Hospital

Birth center vs hospital! So what’s it really like giving birth in a birth centre compared to a hospital? For starters, you can walk around, be as active as you like, and wear what you want. Birth centres always provide private rooms for expectant mothers — whereas at a hospital, unless your insurance covers a private room (many don’t), you’ll be moved to a semi-private room after delivery. You have an option to have your partner in the room during all of the labour (unless there are health reasons not to). Water births are also an option. And with midwives as your support team — they’re trained to handle any complications that might arise, with 24/7 access to an obstetrician or surgeon if need be.

If you’re pregnant, a birth centre is a great place to give birth. At a birth centre, you can move around as much as you like, eat and drink when you’re hungry and thirsty, and really relax. Birth centres always provide private rooms for expectant mothers — whereas at a hospital, unless your insurance covers a private room (many don’t), you’ll be moved to a semi-private room after delivery. Birth centres have midwives or physicians in attendance, but usually not an obstetrician. A midwife or doctor will remain in the birth centre for the duration of the birth and will be in close contact with your obstetrician.

How Does A Birthing Center Differ From A Hospital

Having your baby at a birth centre is different from having your baby at a hospital in several ways. First, and most importantly, we always give mothers their own private room after delivery. You’ll be able to spend as much time with your newborn as you like — rather than being moved to a semi-private room. You can eat and move around as much as possible during labour and birth, roaming free around the house and grounds. And, of course, recover right here, with no long trips to the hospital.

Interested in delivering your baby in a place that’s almost like home and has a knowledgeable and supportive staff? A birth centre might be for you.

The birth centre can be described with 5 Ps:


  • Healthy women anticipating a low-risk pregnancy and birth
  • Licensed, qualified staff with full comprehension of limits of midwifery practice and insured for professional liability
  • Qualified obstetric/pediatric consultants


  • Home-like – a maximized home rather than a mini-hospital
  • Meets all construction, fire and safety, and health codes
  • Equipped to provide routine care and initiate emergency procedures
  • Freestanding facility – separate from acute obstetric/newborn care with autonomy in the formulation of policy and management of the operation
  • Located so that there is reasonable cesarean section capability


  • Orientation and informed consent
  • Antepartum care includes continuous screening by history, physical exam, routine laboratory tests and health counselling
  • Plan for the participation of family members as defined by a woman receiving care
  • An educational program that includes components of self-care/self-help
  • Plan for payment of services
  • Twenty-four-hour telephone access to care, provider
  • Intrapartum care with a midwife or physician in constant attendance during active labour
  • Postpartum/newborn care supervised by a licensed nurse or midwife
  • Required newborn laboratory screening tests
  • Plan for newborn health supervision at center or by referral
  • Home-office visits for postpartum newborn follow-up
  • Provision for support in parenting and breastfeeding


  • Midwifery is Primary Care that emphasizes:
    • Support for pregnancy and birth as a natural physiological process – “normal until proven otherwise;”
    • Prevention of disease/promotion of health;
    • Individual responsibility and self-sufficiency through education;
    • A systems approach to the delivery of health services;
    • That midwifery may be practised by any qualified, licensed provider willing to embrace the philosophy of midwifery and obtain the knowledge and skills needed for midwifery practice.
  • Midwifery Primary Care is a first-level entry into a health-oriented system, triaging when the process of pregnancy and birth departs from its normal course.
  • It is dependent upon:
    • Laboratory services;
    • Availability of specialist services;
    • Access to acute care services;
  • The separation of primary care from acute care in pregnancy and childbirth is the most important principle of the birth center concept.
  • The interdependent relationship between the birth centre and acute care services:


  • Has written policies and procedures that reflect the standard quality assurance
  • Relationship with other community health agencies for complementary services
  • Arrangement for referral and transfer to other levels of care
  • Access to an acute care obstetrical/newborn unit

The Birth Center

Your birth centre can include some features that aren’t available in a hospital setting, such as more freedom to move around and being able to wear your own clothes. You can labour and deliver in a private room — which you won’t have in a hospital. And, you can expect 24/7 care from your midwives or doctors, unlike what’s provided by hospitals. All of that means more attention on you and your baby before, during and after delivery.

In a birth centre, you’ll always have a private room — no roommate. This means more privacy and freedom to move around, eat when you’re hungry and wear what you want during labour. The birth supports of a hospital are still there (trained staff, equipment, etc.), but with less hustle and bustle and the comfort of home.

The birth center is a health care facility for childbirth where care is provided in the midwifery and wellness model. The birth center is freestanding and not a hospital. 

Birth centers are an integrated part of the health care system and are guided by principles of prevention, sensitivity, safety, appropriate medical intervention and cost-effectiveness. While the practice of midwifery and the support of physiologic birth and newborn transition may occur in other settings, this is the exclusive model of care in a birth center.

The birth center respects and facilitates a woman’s right to make informed choices about her health care and her baby’s health care based on her values and beliefs. The woman’s family, as she defines it, is welcome to participate in the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period.


If you’re weighing your delivery options and don’t want the clinical atmosphere of a hospital but also aren’t interested in delivering at home, you may want to consider an accredited birth center.

With professional staff, minimal medical interruptions and cozy accommodations, a birth center is the best of both worlds for many women. To help you decide whether it’s right for you, here’s everything you need to know about giving birth at a birth center.Top Articles10 Benefits of Exercise During PregnancyHealth Benefits of Pregnancy and Motherhood20 Strong Boy Names With Powerful MeaningsREAD MORE18 Unisex Baby Names for a Boy or a Girl6 Surprising Pregnancy Symptoms — for Partners!What Does It Mean to Have an Anterior Placenta?20 Strong Boy Names WithPowerful Meanings Strong Boy Names With Powerful Meanings

What is a birth center?

A birth center is a homey, low-tech birthing option for moms-to-be who desire a natural childbirth experience. Usually, birth centers are freestanding facilities, but sometimes they’re adjacent to or inside a hospital.

In most birthing centers, midwives (and not OB-GYNs) are the primary care providers. Besides offering a comfy place to deliver your baby, birth centers provide many services, including well-woman exams, preconception counseling, prenatal care, childbirth education, breastfeeding classes, postpartum care and support and post-baby birth control.

What’s the difference between a birth center and a hospital?

At birth centers, care is typically led by midwives, though birth centers may work in collaboration with OB-GYNs, pediatricians and other healthcare professionals — meaning they consult them if the need arises.

But delivering at a birth center and giving birth at a hospital differ in a number of ways. While a labor room in a hospital looks like, well, a room in a hospital, birthing rooms at a birthing center tend to be much swankier. And procedures that are standard or at least common in a hospital setting (such as continuous fetal monitoringroutine IVs and induction of labor) aren’t routine at a birthing center.

Keep in mind, too, that most birthing centers don’t give epidurals. Instead, they turn to alternative pain relief options, such as hydrotherapy, breathing exercises, massage and acupuncture. Some centers also offer nitrous oxide gas.

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What are the benefits of giving birth at a birth center?

  • Comfy digs. Birth centers usually have soft lighting, a queen or double bed, a television, a rocking chair, couches for family and friends and a shower, Jacuzzi tub and, sometimes, a kitchen. In many facilities, families are encouraged to personalize the room by hanging pictures, lighting candles or turning up the tunes. 
  • Greater privacy. Birth centers always provide private rooms for expectant mothers — whereas at a hospital, unless your insurance covers a private room (many don’t), you’ll be moved to a semi-private room after delivery.
  • More freedom. You can walk around and be as active as you like, and wear what you want. You even get to eat a light meal or snack and drink during and after labor (no food or drinks during the pushing phase though). At a hospital, on the other hand, all food and fluids (except for ice chips) are usually a no-go, your movements will probably be limited (since there is usually continuous electronic fetal monitoring), and you’ll likely have to give birth lying on your back on the bed.
  • Families stay together. With a hospital delivery, your baby will be taken to a different room for his first checkup, and a few times more for other procedures. At a birth center, however, unless he needs emergency care, your baby won’t be whisked off to another room after the birth (and family and friends won’t be sent away either — unless you want them to be). Everything — from preventative care like the vitamin K shot to baby’s first bath and checkup — happens in the same room.
  • A shorter stay. Because fewer medications and medical interventions are involved, recovery time is shorter than at a hospital. Most families leave the center four to eight hours after birth, compared to 24 to 48 hours at a hospital. And a shorter stay can mean that you spend less money. 
  • Reduced risk of a C-section. The rate of C-sections for women who chose a birth center to deliver is around 6 percent (compared to just under 26 percent for similar low-risk women in hospitals).

What are the downsides of giving birth at a birth center?

  • Lack of centers. The number of birth centers around the country is limited (and services may be in high demand) — especially if you live in a small town.
  • Possible transfer to a hospital. If there is a problem or emergency, you’ll be transferred to a hospital. Fortunately, fewer than 2 percent of transfers are due to emergencies (they’re mostly due to mom having an extremely difficult labor and/or requests for an epidural.) However birthing centers do have IVs, oxygen and infant resuscitators on hand for use during the transfer process.
  • Your insurance may not cover it. Some insurance companies don’t cover births at a birth center. Contact your insurance provider to discuss your coverage.
  • They’re not for everyone. Birth centers aren’t equipped for high-risk pregnancies or multiple births (more on this below).

Who can give birth at a birth center?

Birthing centers handle only low-risk pregnancies. If you have a higher-risk pregnancy, such as if you have hypertension, diabetes or gestational diabetes, your baby is in the breech position, you’re pregnant with multiples, or you have other issues that may cause complications, a birth center isn’t the right option for you.

Who can be with you during labor and delivery at a birth center?

It’s totally up to you to decide who and how many people will be present during labor and delivery. Unlike the hospital experience, you’re not limited to a certain number (and kids won’t get the automatic boot when it’s time for you to push).

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should try to pack 30 people in the room! Natural birth advocates often recommend limiting the number of people who are present, as having too many people around can be a distraction and make labor take longer. Remember, those who miss the live event can catch the replay via photos or video recordings, which are welcome at birthing centers.

How much does it cost to give birth at a birth center?

The cost varies depending on where you live and the center you choose. In general, prenatal care and delivery at a birth center is about $3,000 to $4,000 (typically much less than the grand total for a hospital birth). Again, check with your insurance company to determine coverage and out-of-pocket expenses.

How should you find and choose a birth center?

If you’re interested in giving birth at a birth center, visit the Commission for the Accreditation of Birthing Centers’ (CABC) website to find a center near you that is licensed and accredited by the CABC. Once you’ve found one, you can arrange to tour it. You’ll be able to learn more about the facility, meet the staff and find out what you can do to prepare.

Birth centers aren’t able to handle as many deliveries as a hospital — which means you should reserve your spot as early as possible (as soon as you determine you want to deliver at a birth center — the first trimester isn’t too soon).Be aware: Some hospitals call their labor and delivery department a “birth center.” So just because “birth center” is in a place’s name doesn’t necessarily mean it specializes in the homier, midwife-led childbirth experience. 

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