When it comes to pregnancy and birth, we know parents are inundated with choices. One of those choices may be to give birth with a midwife and/or in a birth center. At the end of the day, you want to make the choice that is best for you and your baby, and at Baby+Co., we are committed to supporting you at every step.
However, we know that not everyone in your life understands every choice you make. Getting everyone on the same page as you prepare for baby can be a challenge, especially if you choose a maternity care option that people have less experience with. Better understanding some of the common misconceptions here in the United States can help start productive conversations with your loved ones.
Part of what contributes to skepticism around birth centers and midwives in the U.S. is the history of the hospitalization of birth in the 20th century. As it became more common practice to go to hospitals for common illnesses, rather than local doctors and midwives, pregnancy and birth also moved into hospitals. Whereas in many other nations in Europe, midwives were slowly integrated into hospital practices (and continued to practice independently), here in the United States, there were smear campaigns against midwives, and they were largely shut out of the medical community.
This simultaneous lack of integration in hospitals and general mistrust of non-hospital based care providers has contributed to the fact that the U.S. is one of the only industrialized countries in the world where midwives do not oversee the majority of low risk pregnancies and births. In 2014, Board Certified Nurse-Midwives only oversaw 8.3% of all U.S. births. Compare this with the U.K., where midwives attend more than 50% of all births.
Notably, the U.S. also has the highest cost of maternity care in the world, with some of the poorest outcomes, including the worst rate of maternal mortality in the developed world.
At Baby+Co., we believe that women and their families deserve better.
Misconception: Birth centers are not safe or equipped to handle emergencies
Our Complete Care model is based on research and best practices which show that labor and delivery in birth centers is a safe option for low-risk women which, notably, significantly reduces the likelihood of a c-section. 85% of all pregnancies in the United States are low-risk.
The safety of birth center care was validated in a 1989 study (the National Birth Center Study) that observed nearly 12,000 labors nationwide. The study was replicated in 2013, with researchers observing outcomes from more than 15,000 labors. Both studies showed that for women with low risk pregnancies, outcomes were the same or better in a birth center setting relative to nationally reported outcomes of low-risk births in hospitals. Women who gave birth in birth centers also had a much lower cesarean rate.
Since our first center opened in October 2014, we have cared for 3800+ pregnancies and delivered 2300+ healthy babies in our centers. Of the babies we delivered, only 5% have been delivered via c-section at a hospital transfer.
Baby+Co. birth centers are all located close to our partner hospitals, and our care teams do regular emergency drills with local EMS services for when emergency transfers are required.
Misconception: Midwives are not as qualified as OBGYNs
Midwives and OB/GYNs are both qualified medical professionals who specialize in different kinds of care for pregnancy and birth. Midwives specialize in caring for low risk pregnancy (which is to say, in caring for the majority of normal births), whereas OB/GYNs specialize in high risk complications and surgical procedures. Both provide vital components of women’s reproductive care, and Baby+Co. has partner hospitals and physicians that we work with. However, to assume that midwives are “not as” qualified is incorrect.
Board Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) all have Masters degrees in Nursing or Nurse Midwifery with a specialty in women’s health, pregnancy, and birth. CNMs’ education includes a period of clinical practicums and residencies, and they have to be nationally board certified in order to practice. All midwives at Baby+Co. are CNMs, and many members of our care team also hold their Doctorate in Nurse Midwifery.
Midwives are experts in low-risk pregnancies (which comprise 85%+ of all births) and in attending to issues that arise in birth. There is also always a team of two practitioners at each birth: either two CNMs, or one CNM and an RN or ANP (Registered Nurse or Advanced Nurse Practitioner). The entire care team is certified and well-practiced in techniques for issues that can arise in birth, like infant resuscitation.
It is important to note that birthing parents will also only be admitted into care with low-risk pregnancies. While emergencies do, of course, happen, any pregnancy requiring high-risk monitoring (such as a multiples pregnancy) would already be under the regular and routine screening of an OB/GYN.
We know that no two pregnancies are alike, and no two births are, either. What’s right for one family may not be right for another. At the end of the day, all everyone wants is a healthy baby and mama.
We would love to discuss any concerns you and your family have. If you’re pregnant, or thinking about getting pregnant, we would love to talk with you. Ask Baby+Co. is our complementary e-visit video chat service where you can get all of your early pregnancy questions answered by one of our CNMs. Click here to schedule an appointment today.