Learn More about the New Birth Center Study
According to the American Association of Birth Centers, a birth center is defined as “a homelike facility existing within a healthcare system with a program of care designed in the wellness model of pregnancy and birth.” Most birth centers exist separately from hospitals, though a few are actually inside a hospital (and are separate from the general labor and delivery unit of those hospitals). The vast majority of birth centers are also led by midwives: either Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) or Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs).
And a new study out today in The Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health highlights both the maternal and infant health outcomes and cost-saving potential of birth centers in the United States.
- Of the 15,574 women who participated in the study and gave birth between 2007 and 2010, fewer than 6% had cesarean sections. According to the National Vital Statistics Report from the CDC, the cesarean rate for similar low-risk women who gave birth in a hospital setting in 2010 was approximately 24%. Moreover, overall the U.S. cesarean rate in 2010 was 32.8%.
- Approximately 84% of women in the study who planned to give birth in a birth center at the onset of labor did give birth in a birth center. The remaining 16% gave birth in a hospital.
- There were no maternal deaths reported in the study. The fetal mortality rate was .47/1000 births, and the newborn mortality rate was .40/1000 births. These rates are comparable to low-risk births in hospital settings (although it should be noted that the study did not include a comparison group of women giving birth in a hospital).
- The study’s authors estimate that, given both the lower cost of birth center births and the low cesarean rate associated with birth center births, the 15,574 births in this study may have saved more than $30 million in birth facility costs alone based on Medicare/Medicaid rates. This does not include the savings incurred in hospitals when it comes to anesthesia, other care providers, and newborn care.
You can read more about the exciting results of this study from a variety of sources, including but not limited to:
- The study itself: “Outcomes of Care in Birth Centers: Demonstration of a Durable Model” as published in The Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health. The study was conducted by the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC).
- Rebecca Dekker’s thorough and accessible study overview, “New Evidence Confirms Birth Centers Provide Top-Notch Care.”
- Amy Romano’s piece for the Transforming Maternity Care blog, “5 Reasons Birth Centers Have Met their Moment.”
- Next Thursday, February 7, representatives from the AABC and the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) will be presenting the findings from this study during a congressional briefing between 8:30 and 10 a.m. EST.
And then after you’ ve had the chance to read up on all the relevant data and research findings, I want to hear from you:
If you are a woman who is pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, would you consider giving birth in a birth center if the option was available to you? Are you already planning on giving birth in a birth center? What draws you to a birth center birth?
If you are a maternity care provider, would you ever consider practicing at a birth center? Do you already practice in a birth center? Would you ever be interested in working to bring a birth center to your community?
If you are ANY person who supports the expansion of birth centers in the United States, how do you think you could use this research to generate enthusiasm for opening up a birth center in your community?