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News & Press: AABC News

Definition of "Birth Center" Clarified

Thursday, May 11, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kate Bauer

Perkiomenville, PA.  The American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) has clarified its definition of “birth center” to better reflect the comprehensiveness of the freestanding birth center model and provide consistency with the national AABC Standards for Birth Center and how birth centers are defined in federal statute. 

The birth center is a health care facility for childbirth where care is provided in the midwifery and wellness model. The birth center is freestanding and not a hospital.

Birth centers are an integrated part of the health care system and are guided by principles of prevention, sensitivity, safety, appropriate medical intervention and cost-effectiveness. While the practice of midwifery and the support of physiologic birth and newborn transition may occur in other settings, this is the exclusive model of care in a birth center.

The birth center respects and facilitates a woman’s right to make informed choices about her health care and her baby’s health care based on her values and beliefs. The woman’s family, as she defines it, is welcome to participate in the pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period.

This change comes after seeking input from its members, gathering research and analyzing the data during the last six months.

Freestanding birth centers are the perfect solution to meet the triple aim in health care, lower cost, better outcomes with high satisfaction rates,” says President Lesley Rathbun.

The revised definition replaces all previous AABC definitions of “birth center” and the AABC Standards for Birth Centers will be revised to reflect the new definition.

AABC’s commitment to birth centers as a means to uphold the rights of healthy women and their families, in all communities, to birth their children in an environment which is safe, sensitive and cost effective with minimal intervention remains strong.  AABC continues to provide exceptional member and birth center support and deep industry expertise enabling the organization to develop and maintain long-lasting relationships and rewarding member experiences.

The American Association of Birth Centers is America's birth center resource. A non-profit membership organization founded in 1983, AABC is dedicated to developing quality holistic services for childbearing families that promote self-reliance and confidence in birth and parenting. AABC publishes materials on birth centers, sets national standards for birth center operation, and promotes state regulations for licensure and national accreditation by the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers. More information about AABC can be found at

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