Reclaim the power of birth

Midwife Seattle

· Maternity Care ·

Birth Center Birth: Birth at a Freestanding Birth Center

Birth Center BirthA “freestanding” birth center is a comfortable place designed for labor and birth. It is not associated with a hospital. At Midwife Seattle, we have the privilege of using either of two beautiful birth centers:

Both birth centers have three lovely birthing suites, each with a tub designed for labor and birth.

Birth in a freestanding birth center may be a good option for you if you:

  • Have a low-risk pregnancy
  • Desire to minimize use of medical interventions in labor/birth
  • Plan to not use pain medicine in labor
  • Have strong social support through family and/or friends
  • Want the option of waterbirth
  • Wish to be in a comfortable and private setting other than home

When you are in active labor, you will meet your midwife at the birth center. There is no medical staff at the birth center, so your midwife will be the one to greet you and prepare your room. She listens to the babyís heart at regular intervals, and also monitors your own health and progress throughout labor. She offers her expertise in helping you cope with labor. Natural methods commonly used for pain relief include water immersion, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), homeopathics, aromatherapy, acupuncture, cold/hot packs, acupuncture, massage and relaxation techniques. When the baby is near to being born, a second midwife comes to assist with the birth and recovery. This second midwife is often, but not always, the other midwife on your care team.

“At first I wasn't sure about having my wife give birth outside of a hospital, and an underwater birth was something I would have never considered. In the end, though, we chose a waterbirth at the birth center, and I canít say enough about how wonderful the experience was for all three of us. The entire experience made my wife and I feel more connected to the birth and more connected to our son. I have no doubt that when our sons are old enough to have their own children, the type of delivery that is now being offered through Midwife Seattle will be considered the best practice.”

— Chad Thompson

The birth center provides the necessary supplies for out-of-hospital birth, including those for emergencies. Some of these items are: emergency medications for seizure or hemorrhage, resuscitation equipment for baby and mom (including oxygen tank), IV fluids, supplies (and numbing medicine) for placing stitches as needed, baby scale, and newborn medications. The birth center does not provide food, but does have a refrigerator, freezer and microwave available.

Most women stay at the birth center for three to six hours after birth. Breastfeeding is started shortly after birth, and a newborn exam is done. Before you leave, your midwife ensures you and your baby are both physically stable. You will be able to walk around, use the bathroom, take a shower, eat a meal and nurse your baby. When you are recovered and ready to rest in bed, you will go home. You will have had a discussion about what to expect for the following day, and what are danger signs for which to call your midwife.

Common reasons for transferring to the hospital from home or birth center are:

  • Prolonged labor with maternal need for pitocin or pain relief
  • Moderate or thick meconium (baby stool) in the amniotic fluid
  • The amniotic bag of water is broken for a long period of time without success at natural induction of labor
  • Labor is occurring before 37 weeks of pregnancy or after 42 weeks of pregnancy




Throughout the course of labor, birth and recovery, your midwife is continually assessing the safety of you remaining out of the hospital. If medical risk factors develop that are better handled in a hospital, she will help you get to the appropriate place for care. Usually the "transfer" occurs in a non-urgent manner by private car. In the rare event of an urgent transfer, an ambulance is used for transportation to the nearest hospital with full obstetrical service. We most commonly transfer to the University of Washington.

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