This is one of the most common and important questions that people ask who are considering care at a birth center. Because the majority of women in the U.S. have maternity care at a hospital with an obstetrician – unlike in Europe where 60-80% of people having babies have care with a midwife – there are many misconceptions about the safety of birth centers.
While no setting, whether hospital or birth center or home, can guarantee a risk-free birth, many studies show that birth outside of the hospital is a safe choice for healthy women and their babies. A landmark study published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health in 2013 of over 22,000 women who enrolled for care in 79 free-standing birth centers around the country, reflects previous studies that show excellent outcomes for women choosing birth centers and their babies:
- 94% of women gave birth vaginally
- Only 6% had a cesarean section, compared to 27% of healthy women giving birth in the hospital and 32.8% of all women giving birth
- Excellent outcomes for babies born in birth centers, comparable to outcomes for babies born to healthy women in hospital
- Very high rates of successful breastfeeding compared to women giving birth in hospital
Many studies also show excellent outcomes for women choosing birth outside of the hospital and their babies, compared to women receiving hospital care:
- Many fewer medical interventions such as labor inductions and augmentation (medicine to start or speed up labor)
- Many fewer incidences of excess bleeding and severe tearing
- Many fewer low-birth weight and premature babies
Interestingly, the most common reason that women give for choosing choose either hospital care or birth center care is that their choice is where they feel safest. At the Monandock Birth Center, we believe that every woman should give birth where she feels safest, wherever that may be. We are always prepared to have in-depth discussions with you, at the beginning and throughout care, to support you to choose the place for your birth that brings you the most comfort, peace of mind and sense of confidence. We encourage you to research your options and to choose carefully and thoughtfully, and we look forward to talking with you and your family about issues of place of birth and safety at any time.