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The Business Aspects of Running a Birth Center

Posted By Jennifer Gardella, Thursday, April 13, 2017

Owning and running a birthing center is a very rewarding experience as you help mothers expand their choices to deliver their babies in a warm personal setting. Midwives and others working at birth centers often feel that the attention and comfort they provide is personally and professionally fulfilling. When running a birth center there are business tasks to attend to, that go beyond the training you received in your profession. You may know the famous saying “you have to work on your business as well as in your business.” This means that in addition to the routine appointments with your clients and facilitating the birthing process, you will need to spend some time on the operations. This can all seem a bit overwhelming.

 

We are here to provide the support you need including access to resources to help you with the business side of your birth center. There are four umbrella areas of running a birth center including finances, marketing, staffing, and your facility. Finances include how you are going to collect payments, process credit cards, work with insurance companies, and also pay the bills for your center. It is important to have the right information so you can manage the finances of your birth center for success. Marketing is often the area that seems too big to even begin to tackle - but just taking small steps towards bigger goals can bring about great results. Marketing will include your website and social media, a logo and even some printed materials. Staffing can be a challenge for any business but harder for a birthing center. You will need to finding the right mix of people to handle required responsibilities yet maintain the values of the center with the right personality. Facilities, equipment and maintenance of your center will need to be coordinated so that the look and feel are aligned with the overall experience you wish to provide.

 

This will include the physical location as well as the furniture, paint color and making sure it is properly cleaned. We understand your deep commitment to providing clients with a very natural birthing experience. When you have questions regarding the operation of your center we are here to help. The accreditation process and follow-up educational opportunities we provide will help you align your expertise as a midwife with a healthy and successful business endeavor.

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How can physicians and midwives work together

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 30, 2017

 All women want a healthy pregnancy and hope pregnancy and birth both proceed  without complication.  In fact, when low-risk and healthy they may be excellent candidates to work with a midwife. 

 What is a midwife?  Midwives provide basic obstetric care to low-risk women.  They spend more time with their clients. Many prenatal visits are 45 minutes to an hour, focusing on the life and family of the expectant woman. Midwives also take the ‘clinical’ out of the pregnancy and birth experience.  Typically midwives establish close relationships with their clients and many practice in a homelike environment of a birth center (link:   http://www.birthcenters.org/)

 Midwives are not physicians so when medical issues are present, a consultation with a doctor may be necessary.  Such complications may include high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.  In these types of situations, the expectant woman will be referred to a medical physical (ob/gyn) for further evaluation.  The midwife may already have an established relationship with an ob/gyn or the woman  may select one on her own.   

 In some instances, especially when connecting for the first time, great care needs to be taken in establishing the relationship between the midwife and ob/gyn.  After all, the practice of midwifery is often foreign to trained medical doctors in the US and there are usually stark differences in education and training, client care and management and location of practice. 

 It is critical to the experience of the woman that the midwife and physician work closely together on behalf of the client, especially when the client wants the close bond with the midwife to continue through birth but medical oversight or intervention is needed. 

 How can a midwife and physician work closely together?  A team approach is needed for this work: 

 

1.       If the health care providers do not know each other, take the time to establish a relationship. Schedule a call or time to meet to share credentials, philosophies and client care strategies.  During this time you can acknowledge difference in practice areas and make a commitment to doing what is in the best interest of the client.  Acknowledge that you both bring a specialty to the table that the expectant woman would like as part of her pregnancy, labor and birth of the child. 

2.       Respect the boundaries of each other’s practice.  If the client is in need of substantial  medical care, the midwife may need to take a back seat to the physician.  Likewise, if the complication is relatively minor, the physician may have a set of protocols for the midwife to follow but release the client to the midwife for primary care. 

3.       Clear communication is key for the sharing of information on how the client is progressing.  When the woman visits with either practitioner, the other should be consulted so all parties are up-to-date.  The client should not be acting as a middle-woman in sharing of test results and progress. 

4.       Being clear in responsibilities will help both the expectant woman and also clearly define your practice areas.  The midwife and the doctor should be clear on who is taking the lead and when the client will need to be seen. 

 Great communication and a plan will help both the midwife and the physician to bring the best level of care to the client.   With the common goal of ensuring that the dyad both remain healthy during pregnancy, labor and birth, it is easy to see how a plan can come together.  While traditional obstetricians and midwives may seem like odd bedfellows, expectant women see value in the services of both and therefore all caregivers should work together.  

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The Top Questions to Ask When Choosing a Birthing Center to Deliver Your Baby

Posted By Jennifer Gardella, Thursday, March 2, 2017

The beginning of your pregnancy is a very exciting and important time.  As you plan for the start or expansion of your family you will need to put a practitioner in place to care for you during your pregnancy from now, through the birth, and your postpartum time.   If you would like to explore using a midwife and delivering a baby in a birth center, you may want to take a tour of the birth center where you will meet providers and see if this is the right fit for you.  


What should you consider when researching and then selecting a birth center?  There are many factors to consider.  As a first step you can search our directory of birth centers (http://www.birthcenters.org/search/custom.asp?id=2926) to get a list of available birth centers in your area.  Next is to look at their websites and call to set-up an appointment for a tour and consultation.  


During your tour and appointment with the midwife it is important to determine if the center and midwife are a good fit for you.  Look around, note the feel of the center and take some mental notes if it feels right to you.  Talk with the staff and consider the following questions:  


About the center/practitioner/midwife:  

  1. What is your birthing philosophy and why did you become a midwife?

  2. What type of training, certification and accreditation have you and your birth center obtained?   

  3. How long have you been a midwife?  

  4. How long has this center been in existence?

  5. Do you accept my health insurance plan?  

  6. Do you offer doulas, breastfeeding consultants, yoga or chiropractic care during my pregnancy and delivery?


About your family:  

  1. We are not a traditional couple, will we feel accepted at the birth center?

  2. I am a client that might be different than those of the birth center.  Will I fit in? How does the center address cultural and religious accommodations.


Prenatal Care:  

  1. Can you describe your prenatal care visits - I have heard that midwives spend more time with their patients, why is that?  What will we talk about?  

  2. What is your position about prenatal screenings and ultrasounds?  

  3. How many clients are you working with at one time?

  4. I’ve heard that birth centers offer home visits a few days after birth.  Do you do that as well?

  5. Do you offer parenting, childbirth education, Centering™, breastfeeding, car seat, baby wearing classes?


Your Delivery:  

  1. Where will I deliver my baby?

  2. When would we need outside consultation during labor and delivery?  

  3. What if there are complications?  (Gestational diabetes, breech birth)

  4. Is water birth an option or can I only labor in the tub?

  5. How will you help me manage my pain?   

  6. I would like my placenta encapsulated.  Do you offer that service?

  7. Can our birth photographer attend the birth as well?

  8. Are there fees for things like nitrous oxide?


After-birth care:  

  1. Will I be able to come back to the birth center for postpartum visits and follow-up well woman care here?  


When you deliver your baby in a birth center you want a family experience for the birth of your baby.  This is a very personal decision for you to make and one that should be done with much thought.  We look forward to support you through the process of finding the right birth center for you and encourage you to do your research on our website!  

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Your Dilemma: When Insurance Does Not Cover a Birth Center

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, January 25, 2017

You have made the decision to use a birth center as it is the right fit for your family.  You have a low-risk pregnancy and are not expecting any complications.  You look forward to your extended visits with your midwife during your pregnancy and then having her by your side throughout labor and delivery.  You want the home-like atmosphere of the birth center and are ready to involve your family.  


With a push to control general medical care and hospital costs, birth centers can be a great solutions to the high costs of delivery a baby in the hospital.  The problem is that insurance companies still are struggling to cover the costs associated with having a baby in a birth center and the midwife care.  


This is odd because birth center care of the mother and baby through delivery is less expensive than more traditional hospital stays. With childbirth being the single largest hospital expense for employers the birth center should be a welcome addition to an insurance plan.  With lower overhead, lower c-section rate, and mandatory (sometimes unnecessary) medications for delivery, hospitals stays are typically very expensive.  


So, what should you do if your insurance company has denied your initial request to use a birth center or midwife?  


Call Your Insurance Company

Sometimes your request to use a birth center will be denied because of a coding issue in the system or a misunderstanding of a processing agent who does not understand your request.  The birth center should be accustomed to this happening and help you through the process.  Explore options to change and/or upgrade your insurance coverage to allow for the birth center option.  Call your insurance agent, do your research on the company website, and ask questions about others you can speak with as well as options you may have.  


Talk with your Employer

More than likely your employer has selected your health care package to provide comprehensive coverage but within a budget.  It is possible that the individuals making the selections do not think to add a midwife or birth center option because they just did not know to ask.  Allowing this option could in fact save money on the plan since using the midwife and birth center options are more cost effective than traditional routes.  Additionally, your employer may make an exception or allot certain discretionary budget to your request or help you start a flexible spending account to manage the expenses.  You are never going to know if you do not ask.


Can You Manage the Expense on Your Own?  

Your birth center will give you a very accurate picture of the costs.  Costs to vary from center to center, region to region so it is almost impossible to tell you what it “should cost.”  If you are determined to use a birth center you have options for the expense.   Make sure to have a very frank conversation about the decision with the birth center you chose and you are giventhe best rate possible for their care.  Many birth centers can offer payment plans to make the cost more affordable over time.


While we all like to think that our healthcare options are for us to make on our own, sometimes health insurance does prevent care based on the limits to the policies.  Use all available resources at your disposal to work out the best solution for you.  



Tags:  birth options  health insurance 

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Are You A Good Fit for a Birth Center?

Posted By Jennifer Gardella, Monday, January 9, 2017
Updated: Monday, January 9, 2017

There are so many very personal decisions for expectant mothers to make about their birthing plan, and for every decision there are just as many options.  The most important consideration is making the best decisions for you and your family. If you have been investigating other options, you may have heard of a birth center.  


What is a birth center?  While each birth center is a bit different, they have several similar qualities that can benefit a mom as she delivers a baby.  Typically a birth center is a home-like facility dedicated to providing care to mother and child throughout pregnancy and birth.  A birth center caters to a family centered approach to childbirth and allows a healthy woman to have a dedicated circle of support around her.  They are able to handle all necessary testing including all newborn screenings.  Birth center care is given by midwives and a close bond between caregiver and client is created.  


So, how do you make the decision to use a birth center?  


Is Your Pregnancy Healthy?

Birth centers are a great fit for women who are having a healthy pregnancy.  Along with their provider the healthy client is expected to have a natural birth with no complications.  A birth center may not be the right setting for you if gestational diabetes or high blood pressure have been a part of your pregnancy.  


Are You Comfortable with the Idea?  

If you find comfort in a natural approach to the birth of your newborn baby then a birth center may be the right choice for you.  You and your midwife will spend a significant amount of time together and your midwife has extensive experience caring for pregnant mothers, delivering babies and providing after birth care to both mother and child.  If an issue arises, birth center staff are able to start any emergency procedures you may require and arrange for a transfer to a medical facility.  


Do you Want a Client Centered Approach to Your Pregnancy?  

Midwives spend a significant amount of time with their patients.  This includes regular appointments during pregnancy and then throughout labor and delivery.  Your midwife is with you every step of the way with a focus on natural childbirth including the management of pain without medical intervention.


Always Trust your Instinct

As birth centers grow in popularity many more women and their families are choosing to use them.   If you want the focus to be on you and your baby, a birth center could be a great option.  It is best to visit the birth center, take a tour and meet the staff who will be caring for you throughout pregnancy and delivery.  Then you can decide if this is best for you and your family.  


Tags:  Birth Centers  pregnancy 

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