Many expectant mothers prefer the idea of having their baby at a birth center (sometimes called birthing centers). The number of these centers and the number of people using them has increased in the past decade. In addition to having a more comfortable atmosphere than a hospital, they are less costly.
Is a birth center a safe place to give birth? It depends, in part, on whether a woman has a high-risk pregnancy or an elevated chance of complications during childbirth. One obstetrician-gynecologist says that “birth centers should only provide services to low-risk women…” The OB-GYN adds that while women who go to birth centers aren’t at greater risk of developing complications than they would be at a hospital. If serious complications do occur, they may not get the medical care they need in a timely manner.
The quality of birth centers can vary widely. That’s why it’s essential to do your research and get recommendations from your doctor or other medical professionals. A good birth center should have:
- Physicians and licensed midwives or nurse midwives on staff
- A close relationship with a hospital that’s nearby
- Strict protocols for what to do if complications occur during delivery
- Accreditation by the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers
If you can’t find a nearby center that meets these criteria, it’s probably best to plan on having your baby in a hospital. Some hospitals even have their own birth centers so that parents can bring their babies into the world in a safe, nurturing environment.
Even in the safest settings, things can go wrong during childbirth that harms the mother and/or the infant. If your baby suffered injuries during birth, whether at a birthing center or in a hospital, that you believe could or should have been prevented, it’s essential to find out what your legal options are. By holding the responsible people and entities accountable, you can seek the compensation you and your child will need now and in the future.