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What is a Birth Center?

The Birth Center - There is a difference from AABC on Vimeo.

What is a Birth Center?

  • The birth center is a home-like facility existing within a healthcare system with a program of care designed in the wellness model of pregnancy and birth.

  • Birth centers are guided by principles of prevention, sensitivity, safety, appropriate medical intervention, and cost effectiveness.

  • Birth centers provide family-centered care for healthy women before, during, and after normal pregnancy, labor, and birth.

The birth center can be described with 5 Ps:


  • Healthy women anticipating a low-risk pregnancy and birth

  • Licensed, qualified staff with full comprehension of limits of midwifery practice and insured for professional liability

  • Qualified obstetric/pediatric consultants


  • Home-like - a maximized home rather than a mini-hospital

  • Meets all construction, fire and safety, and health codes

  • Equipped to provide routine care and initiate emergency procedures

  • Freestanding facility - separate from acute obstetric/newborn care with autonomy in formulation of policy and management of operation

  • Located so that there is reasonable cesarean section capability


  • Orientation and informed consent

  • Antepartum care including continuous screening by history, physical exam, routine laboratory tests and health counseling

  • Plan for participation of family members as defined by woman receiving care

  • Educational program that includes component of self-care/self-help

  • Plan for payment of services

  • Twenty-four hour telephone access to care provider

  • Intrapartum care with a midwife or physician in constant attendance during active labor

  • Postpartum/newborn care supervised by licensed nurse or midwife

  • Required newborn laboratory screening tests

  • Plan for newborn health supervision at center or by referral

  • Home-office visits for postpartum newborn follow-up

  • Provision for support in parenting and breastfeeding


  • Midwifery is Primary Care that emphasizes:

    • Support for pregnancy and birth as a natural physiological process - “normal until proven otherwise;”
    • Prevention of disease/promotion of health;
    • Individual responsibility and self-sufficiency through education;
    • A systems approach to the delivery of health services;
    • That midwifery may be practiced by any qualified, licensed provider willing to embrace the philosophy of midwifery and obtain the knowledge and skills needed for midwifery practice.
  • Midwifery Primary Care is a first-level entry into a health-oriented system, triaging when the process of pregnancy and birth departs from its normal course.

  • It is dependent upon:
    • Laboratory services;
    • Availability of specialist services;
    • Access to acute care services;
  • Separation of primary care from acute care in pregnancy and childbirth is the most important principle of the birth center concept.

  • The interdependent relationship between the birth center and acute care services:


  • Has written policies and procedures that reflect standard quality assurance

  • Relationship with other community health agencies for complementary services

  • Arrangement for referral and transfer to other levels of care

  • Access to an acute care obstetrical/newborn unit

© 2016 American Association of Birth Centers | 3123 Gottschall Road | Perkiomenville, PA 18074 | 215.234.8068
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