Photo Credit: Monet Moutrie
When it comes to prenatal care in the United States, there is no question that the system is not equipped to offer the best care pregnant women require. In response to the growing need for better prenatal care with more respectful labor and birth options, the number of birth centers in the US is on a steady increase, and so is the size of their clientele.
With so much awareness around high maternal mortality rates in the US, there is a strong shift towards midwives and birth centers that offer prenatal education and care. “The United States is the only industrialized country where maternal mortality is consistently on the rise.”1 A recent four-part series by CNN and Every Mother Counts, Giving Birth in America, depicts the struggles of low-income, uninsured women who cannot afford prenatal care through a medical provider. The documentary covers the incredible work of midwives at The Birth Place, a local birth center in Winter Garden Florida that has an open door policy for all women seeking prenatal care. The birth center offers free prenatal care to low income women who otherwise have no access to the necessary health care that will lead to healthy births for both mother and baby.
Birth centers are also growing in popularity among women who are looking for respectful birthing options that offer a higher level of quality and personalized care. Avoiding unnecessary interventions is another strong factor backing birth centers, where the main focus is placed on healthy, natural births and interventions are only considered when medically necessary. According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29% of the out-of-hospital births that occurred in 2012 took place in a freestanding birth center, with an increase in birth center births from 0.36% in 2011 to 0.39% in 2012. Although there is still a ways to go to improve these numbers, they are increasing steadily in comparison to the CDC’s record of 23% of birth center births in 2004.
“Women aren't getting the level of care they want. [The] reason why women are making a wide range of choices and seeking doulas and seeking home births and seeking options outside of the medical model is because they want to be treated with respect. They want to be at the center of their health care decision-making."2 - Michele Giordano, executive director of the nonprofit advisory group Choices in Childbirth
A medical model that has respect at its core prioritizes education from prenatal care through to postpartum care. Birth centers will continue to grow in popularity because they support the rights of women during every stage of maternity. They offer a great option to expectant mothers who are not interested in home birth but also want more freedom and personalized care than what is provided in most hospitals.
At Cascade we are proud to actively support the growth of birth centers and are committed to being a resource for everything midwives need to set-up new centers or refurbish existing ones. If you need assistance or are looking for a particular product that we haven’t added to our product line yet, give us a call. We want to ensure that we grow with your needs so that we can continue to offer you the best quality equipment and supplies at affordable prices. Below you will find a variety of resources and articles with more detailed information on birth centers.
Written By: Samantha Darling for Cascade HealthCare Products
1Christy Turlington Burns, 'Giving Birth in America', CNN and Every Mother Counts, 2016
2Nia Hamm, 'Out of Hospital Births on the Rise: Data Shows Fewer Health Risks', Public News Service, 2015
Kathleen Doheny, 'More US Women Delivering Babies at Home or Birth Centers', US News, 2016
Shanna Fortier, 'Back to the roots with natural childbirth', Colorado Community Media, 2016
Dr. Marian F. MacDorman, T.J. Mathews, and Dr. Eugene Declercq, 'Trends in Out-of-Hospital Births in the United States, 1990–2012', CDC, 2014
Information on Birth Centers in the US, American Association of Birth Centers