Birth Centers in WA State
There are 14 free-standing birth centers in WA state. A free-standing birth center is a welcoming, safe environment where birthing individuals and families who seek a natural childbirth can receive care by a licensed midwife or a Certified Nurse Midwife who has privileges at that birth center. The cost of midwifery care and the facility charge for the birth center are covered by most health insurance plans. Laboring and birthing in a free-standing birth center is a superb choice for those who desire to have interventions only if necessary.
Benefits of laboring and birthing at a free-standing birth center include a reduced risk of having a cesarean which is better for both childbearing person and baby, decreased risk of infection for babies, increased success with breastfeeding and reduced chances of unnecessary interventions that can cause harm.
Click here to read a study about US birth centers published in Jan/Feb 2013 that demonstrated excellent outcomes for the 15,574 people enrolled and their infants. This research illustrates the essential role that midwives and birth centers play in improving birth outcomes and reducing health care costs in the U.S. Notable findings include a 6% cesarean section rate (similar low-risk people receiving care in hospitals experience an estimated 24% rate), a 12% transport rate in labor, and very low rates of fetal and newborn deaths. Read more >
Free-standing birth centers provide an ideal alternative for people who do not want to give birth in either a hospital or at their home. Birth center policies may vary but offer families:
- The support of a midwife and chosen family/friends who believe in someone's ability to give birth in their own way and on their own time and will encourage them as they copes with the challenges of labor
- The option of laboring and/or giving birth in a spacious birth tub
- The freedom to eat, drink, and move around during labor as they wish
- The choice of birthing in any position that feels right to them: on a birth stool, in a full or supported squat, on her hands and knees, semi-reclining on the queen-sized bed, or in a birthing tub
- Information to help make informed choices about their health care
- Appropriate monitoring balanced with a deep respect for privacy
- Avoidance of the risks associated with many standard medical techniques and interventions
- Continued support and advocacy if there is the need for a hospital transfer
- Immediate contact with the new baby and assistance with breastfeeding
Click here to read a report about Freestanding Birth Centers in WA published by Puget Sound Birth Center as a community report for their clients.
The free-standing birth centers in WA are located in 9 counties throughout Washington state. Between 2001 and 2011, there was a 63.2% increase in births occurring at free standing birth centers in WA. Between 2006 and 2011, there was a 16.4% increase. 10.2% of births attended by midwives (LMs and CNMs) occur in freestanding births centers in WA. Of births at home and in freestanding birth centers, 38% occur in birth centers.
Birth certificate data indicates that 1.2% of the total births in WA in 2011 occurred at birth centers (or 1.6% of the total births in the counties where birth centers are located). The percentage of total births at freestanding birth centers by county in 2011 were: Chelan 2.7%, Island 4.6%, King 1.1%, Pierce 2.2%, Skagit 2.7%, Snohomish 1.3%, Spokane 0.8%, Thurston 2.5%, Whatcom 5%. Note that these numbers do not take into account the total number of individuals who start labor at a birth center since birth certificates are issued by the baby's place of birth rather than the planned place of birth.
CLICK HERE for the Directory for Birth Centers in WA state.