Questions to Ask When Touring a Birth Center
We designed a special PDF of this page that provides plenty of room for you to write your answers to the questions below. Download it now (PDF).
( notes results of best available research)
Accreditation, Licensing, PracticeIs this center licensed by the state? Is it accredited by the National Association for Childbearing Centers (NACC)? (Accreditation shows that the center has met a set of national standards for birth centers.)
Are the birth center midwives certified? Licensed? How many years of birth center and other experience do they have?
Would I be able to meet and get to know all of the midwives who might attend my birth?
Classes and Other Support ServicesDoes the birth center offer classes in childbirth education? Newborn care? Breastfeeding? Postpartum adjustment?
Does the birth center refer to community resources for childbirth education, breastfeeding support, and other concerns of mothers?
CostHow much do services of the birth center cost? Are there possible extra costs that I should know about?
Does the birth center participate in [my insurance plan]? Note: you should check with your insurer to confirm coverage.
Does the birth center accept alternate payment arrangements, such as sliding scale or time payments?
Transfer of CareDuring pregnancy, what conditions would require me to transfer to the care of another provider?
During labor, what situations would require me to transfer to a hospital?
If transfer becomes necessary, what is the back-up hospital and who are the back-up physicians? How can I arrange to tour the site and meet the physicians?
What is your rate of transfer during labor? What is the most common reason for transfer? What percentage of women who transfer have cesarean sections?
Would my midwife be able to remain active in my care if I need to transfer to a hospital?
Could you give me some examples of emergencies that might arise during labor and birth and how you would handle them?
Under what circumstances would my baby need to be transferred to a hospital? Which hospital would it be? How would I arrange to see the facilities and meet the staff?
Care During Labor and Birth — CompanionsDo you have any policies that limit the number of people who could be with me during labor and birth? Can the baby's siblings be present? Is there an age restriction?
I know that birth centers can offer more one-to-one care than hospitals. Do the midwives here routinely provide continuous support during labor? If not: Do you have experience with trained labor support (doulas) during labor and birth? Do you encourage use of doula care?
Care During Labor and Birth — InterventionsI know that most birth centers discourage continuous electronic fetal monitoring. Would you monitor my baby with a doppler (hand-held ultrasound device used to monitor the baby's heart) or fetoscope (stethoscope for listening to the baby's heart)?
What are your usual policies and practices about:
What is the usual care if a labor is progressing slowly?
What percent of the time do women giving birth here get an episiotomy (a cut to enlarge the opening of the vagina just before birth)?
Care During Labor and Birth — Help with PainHow would you recommend that I prepare for managing pain during labor and birth?
What drug-free and drug measures for pain relief are available in this birth center?
What would happen if I decided that I want an epidural?
Postpartum and Newborn CareWhat newborn care is routinely provided or offered if a baby is healthy?
Are there any reasons why my baby would need to be separated from me immediately or shortly after birth?
What breastfeeding resources are available?
Could my partner stay with me throughout my stay? What accommodations are available?
Leaving the Birth CenterHow long is the maximum stay after the birth?
What follow-up care and support would you provide after I go home? Is there an option for a home visit? Do you provide information or give breastfeeding or emotional support over the telephone?
Most recent page update: 11/16/2012
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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality and value of maternity care through consumer engagement and health system transformation. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
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Listening to MothersSM III is the third national survey exploring women’s experiences in pregnancy and childbirth. Commissioned by Childbirth Connection, conducted by Harris Interactive, and funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the survey polled 2,400 women who gave birth in U.S. hospitals from 2011 to 2012. Results show that medically intensive experiences are typical, and evidence-based practices are underutilized. Childbearing women need better support and knowledge to navigate their maternity care.
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