If your pregnancy is categorized as low risk and you are hoping to give birth with minimal interventions, but still have access to emergency hospital services, a birth center is a fantastic option.
Why choose a Birth Center?
- Birth Centers offer more pain relief options such as a jacuzzi and nitrous oxide (laughing gas) which is very common in Europe and U.K. but not offered in many NYC hospitals.
- Birth Center environments tend to be a bit more homey with lighting options, bigger beds and friendly furnishings. All their medical equipment is usually hidden in closets rather than displayed.
- Birth Center cesarian section rates tend to be much lower and they perform fewer interventions.
- Birth Centers allow for intermittent fetal monitoring or will conduct monitoring with a hand held doppler which means that your movement isn’t restricted.
- Birth Centers allow for a variety of pushing positions - squatting or all fours for example which tend to cause less tearing. Often in hospitals you are required to push laying down on your back or on your side.
- Birth Centers allow partners to stay overnight after birth. (This is not always the case with shared rooms in postpartum but is allowed with private rooms at hospitals)
- Birth Centers within a hospital still offer all the expertise and options a hospital would provide such as and epidural or NICU facility. Free standing birth centers are located a short distance from their partner hospitals.
What’s the rush?
Birth Centers are in high demand and many care providers who have privileges at a birth center don't take clients after the first trimester. Some will take clients up to 20-22 weeks.
Are you a good candidate for a Birth Center?
Ask yourself -
- Are you low risk?
- Are you comfortable with trying alternate pain management techniques either in liu of or before an epidural?
- Birth centers require that you are at least a few centimeters dilated before being admitted so you’ll have plan to labor at home for a bit until you’re in active labor before being admitted.
- Birth centers will dismiss you after 24 hours after birth which might be too soon for some, but can be a relief to others.
How do I know if I’m low risk?
- Singleton, term, vertex pregnancies, and the absence of any other medical or surgical conditions is defined as a low risk pregnancy.
- If any conditions present in the course of pregnancy and is classified as ‘high risk’ appropriate steps will be taken by care providers to recommend or transfer care. For example, if baby turns breech close to term, midwives will often transfer care to OBs they have a relationship with and may also be present at time of birth.
Are Birth Centers equipped to handle emergencies?
- Your care providers will continue to monitor you closely but if any predictable issues occur, (pre-term labor, gestational diabetes), you may be required to give up the birth center option and give birth in L&D instead, with your same providers.
- When you check in to a Birth Center when in labor, if any of the tests are non-reassuring (high blood pressure, presence of meconium, fetal heart rate irregularity) your care provider will determine whether you’ll be able to give birth in the birth center or whether to transfer you to L&D.
- In case of an emergency (emergency c-section, postpartum hemorrhage or if baby needs NICU) during birth, you will be transferred to the L&D floors, again with your care provider.
What if I change my mind and want an epidural?
- You’ll be transferred to L&D and be able to get one.
Where can I find a Birth Center?
There are many different kinds of birth centers - free standing Birth Centers and Birth Centers located within a hospital, right next to labor & delivery units.
- Mt. Sinai Birth Center - Birth Center located within the Mt. Sinai St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital near Columbia Circle.
- New York Presbyterian Downtown Birth Center (LOMA) - Birth Center located within the New York Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital near Wall St.
- Birth Center at Metropolitan Hospital with Village OB & Midwives - Birth Center located within the Metropolitan Hospital on the Upper East Side
- Brooklyn Birth Center - Free standing Birth Center located near Sheepshead bay in Brooklyn, supported by Maimonides Hospital.
- Birthing Center of New York - Free standing Birth Center located in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Which care providers have privileges at Birth Centers?
If you’d like to give birth at a birth center, you have to work with a care provider who has access. Not all care providers are designated for the birth center, so please be sure to check with yours.
- You can work with an OB Practice, an OB & Midwifery Practice, a group of Midwives or a single OB.
- Below are a list of care providers who offer services at Birth Centers:
Dr. Katrina Bradley, Dr. Nabizadeh & Dr. Shulina at Mt. Sinai Birth Center & Hospital
Dr. Anna Rhee at Mt. Sinai Birth Center & Hospital
Dr. Gae Rodke, Mt. Sinai Birth Center & Hospital (doesn’t take insurance)
Dr. Paka, Mt. Sinai Birth Center & Hospital
Village Maternity, Metropolitan Hospital (Birth Center) (backed by Village OB)
CBS Midwifery, Mt. Sinai Birth Center
Central Park Midwifery, Mt. Sinai Birth Center
Community Midwifery Care, Mt. Sinai Birth Center
Risa Klein Midwifery, Mt. Sinai Birth Center
Sarah Jensen, CNM, Mt. Sinai Birth Center
Sabine Jeudy, CNM Mt. Sinai Birth Center
Midwives at NYP Downtown Birth Center
Dr. Hanna, NYP Downtown Birth Center