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Birth Center Results

Results from National Birth Center Study 

  • The quality of care in birth centers has remained consistent. "The National Birth Center Study," published in 1989, reported on prospective, descriptive data of 11,814 women admitted for labor at 84 birth centers. One woman in six (15.8 %) was transferred to a hospital of which 2.4 % were emergency transfers. Of the women admitted to labor in the birth center, 84.2% gave birth in the center. The cesarean section rate was 4.4 percent. There were no maternal deaths. The overall intrapartum and neonatal mortality rate was 1.3 per 1000 births. The rates of infant mortality were similar to those reported in large studies of low-risk hospital birth. 1
  • “The National Birth Center Study II” (NBCS II), published in 2013, reported on 15,574 women who planned and were eligible for birth center birth at the onset of labor. Four percent were transferred to a hospital before admission to the birth center, 12% were transferred in labor after admission and 84% gave birth at the birth center.  Regardless of birth setting, 93% of women enrolled for birth center care had a spontaneous vaginal birth. There were no maternal deaths. Less than 2% of birth center transfers were emergent. The intrapartum fetal mortality rate for women admitted to the birth center in labor was 0.47/1000. The neonatal mortality rate was 0.40/1000 excluding anomalies. It is noteworthy that two decades lapsed between these two large studies yet the outcomes are remarkably similar. 2
  • The cesarean section rate for women receiving care in birth centers averages 6.1%, approximately one half that in studies of low risk, in-hospital births.2
  • Birth Centers have consistently displayed charges for care for normal birth that average up to 50% less than charges for an uncomplicated birth in the hospital. 3, 4
  • More than half of birth centers include routine laboratory exams, childbirth education, home visits, extra office visits, and initial newborn examinations in their charges.
  • Most major health insurers contract with birth centers for reimbursement. Because charges reflect cost and since the birth center is a single service unit, there is no opportunity for cost shifting or operating the birth center as a “loss leader” to other services.
  • 98.8 percent of women using the birth center would recommend it to friends and/or return to the center for a subsequent birth.1

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