Birthing options: 5 ways to give birth
Birth plan: birth centre birth

Birth plan: birth centre birth

Name: Birth center birth

What it is and how it works:
Birth centers are maternity units which are typically midwife-led and offer a less clinical environment than a traditional hospital. In addition to birthing pools, they also offer complementary therapies to aid during labor including massage and aromatherapy.
What are the benefits: Not only will you give birth in a home-like environment (without having to deal with a home birth), but you are more likely to have one-to-one care from the same midwife (or team of midwives) throughout your pregnancy, labor and afterwards. There is also a high standard of postnatal care, which provides a more relaxing environment for a new mum than a busy post-natal ward. Other benefits include having a birth without intervention.
What are the negatives:
Major pain relief such as epidurals aren’t available, and you will need to be transferred to hospital if you decide you need stronger drugs or there are any concerns about you or your baby. Also, if you have a high-risk pregnancy, you probably won’t be able to deliver in a birth center.

Are there cost implications?:
Most birth centers in the UK are NHS and therefore free of charge, but there are private options available as well (The Birth Center in London costs between £2,900 and £8,400, depending on the package you choose and when you decide to start your antenatal care).
Available on private/NHS/both? Both. For those wishing to have a hospital birth, there are hospitals in the U.K. with home-from-home-style birth centers on the premises.

Expert opinion/testimonial comment:

Caroline Flint, midwife, The Birth Center
'It’s a different philosophy in a birth center: a midwifery philosophy where birth is presumed normal and will go well and the mother is only taken to hospital if there’s a need.

'There are lots of water birth pools and patience because it’s a slow process. Usually you’ll find birth stools which are very traditional and primitive so women can sit in a squatting position without getting exhausted, there are things to hang onto so you can drop; it’s much more comfortable.

'They make a big effort to enable a woman to be comfortable and private. It’s also much more intimate, darker and more relaxed, which is more conducive for a woman to produce oxytocin, which she needs for her contractions and which you can only produce when feeling private.'
Dr. Pat O’Brien, obstetrician, University College London Hospitals
'A birth center is a good compromise between a home birth and a labor ward birth. It provides a home-from-home environment but with the support of doctors should they be necessary.'

Image © Pixland


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