Back To Basics: Birth Centers vs Hospitals

Birth Trend: Birth Center vs. Hospital

GREENSBORO, NC - When you think about having a baby, you probably think about going to the hospital. But more women are opting to have their babies out of the hospital, in birth centers instead.

"It's a huge defining moment of your life," said Logan Lipford, who just welcomed her second child, Kaden, into the world. "I finally have this face to go with the name and the kicks that I've been feeling."

Kaden was the first baby born at the brand new Magnolia Birth Center in Greensboro.

Lipford's daughter, Lena, was born naturally at Women's Hospital two years ago. But Lipford knew this time, she wanted something different.

Federal data shows 98 percent of women in the United States have their babies in hospitals. But more women, like Lipford, are choosing midwives over doctors and birth centers over hospital births.

"Women are seeking different ways to approach their health care," said Tanya Bailey, Certified Nurse Midwife and Co-owner of Magnolia Birth center.

"In North Carolina, birth centers are beginning to grow. We're now at six birth centers and soon to be a few more," said Bailey.

There's another birth center opening in Winston-Salem in June.

"There's a number of women that want this option and they've been driving to Chapel Hill or to Statesville or longer distances to get this type of care," said Bailey.

Birth centers are for women without complications. They're for low-risk labor and delivery, with little medical intervention.

"We don't have anesthesia on site and we don't do epidural. Everything is focused around normal, natural childbirth," said Bailey.

And according to the American Association of Birth Centers, they're less expensive too -- charging up to 50 percent less than an uncomplicated birth in a hospital.

"Certainly people are paying a lot more for health insurance. Deductibles are very high so people are looking to figure out where to spend their money," said Bailey.

But there are risks. There's no NICU or operating room to perform an emergency c-section in a birth center. Birth centers work like outpatient surgery centers.

"If someone has a complication during outpatient surgery, you would be transferred to the hospital for that higher level of care. Birth centers work very similar that if anything is going on, we make a transfer to the hospital via EMS," said Bailey.

At Magnolia Birth Center, it would take at least six minutes to transfer a mom and a baby to Women's Hospital if something goes wrong.

"Minutes matter when a mom or a baby are in distress," said Dr. Debbie Cunningham, President of Women's Hospital.

"At the hospital, the services that the mom and or baby would need are immediately available, within seconds," said Cunningham.

Cunningham said there are occasionally babies who go into distress during a normal delivery and it's not anticipated.

But a study in the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health shows less than one percent of birth center births result in a hospital transfer because of emergencies.

Cunningham said she's happy to see women in the Triad have more options.

"I think it's important for women to have choices about where they want to have their baby," she said.

And moms, like Lipford, agree.

"It's just really hard work bringing new life into this world," said Lipford. "I feel like we need to be supported in whatever we choose."

Currently, North Carolina law requires physicians to supervise nurse midwives. But there's current legislation in Raleigh to change that.

Copyright 2017 WFMY


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