It seems like just yesterday that when a woman was having a baby, she had two choices: deliver at the local hospital or at home. This is not the case today as expectant parents have more control over the process of having a baby than ever before and many expectant parents like the idea of having their baby at a freestanding birthing center.
These centers may be free-standing, on the grounds of an associated hospital, or inside a hospital and are usually operated by a certified nurse-midwife (CNM). The main thing that sets birthing centers apart from hospitals is that a birthing center's focus is on family-centered care that allows the mother to have a lot of input about what goes on during the birth of her baby. Although centers may vary greatly, most operate under guidelines and criteria established by Lamaze.
When expectant parents decide to deliver at a birthing center they can expect a comfortable environment. Typically, rooms are private and have carpeting, plants, pictures, a rocking chair, and in many instances, a bed large enough so that your partner can lie down with you. While many hospitals may limit or restrict whom a mother may have attend the birth, in a birthing center, the mother decides who may attend her. Along with the expectant father or partner, other relatives, friends and siblings may attend. Birthing centers encourage laboring mothers to choose the position they prefer for labor and delivery and even allow her to choose what clothing she wears. Most centers have IVs, oxygen, infant resuscitators, and analgesics; however drugs, medical intervention, or fetal monitoring are not routine or expected. Women delivering in birthing centers usually have shorter stays and use fewer (if any) drugs. The cost to deliver at a birthing center is about one-third the cost of delivering at a hospital and most major insurance companies cover birth centers. Essentially, a top-rated birthing center should combine the comforts of home with the technical expertise of modern medicine.
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