I rent the bodywork room at The Birth Haven Birth Center on Wednesdays. I have been there for over a year now and have seen a lot of changes at the Birth Center. One of the cool things about being in the space is getting to see how the birth center operates, and the benefits of this type of care. I don’t work for the center and I don’t see the clinical care at the center— I don’t always even know who is a client unless the bump gives it away, but I am familiar with the midwifery model of care, so I have an idea of what that looks like as well.
Below are my casual observations:
1. One of my friends had her most recent child at the birth center, and lives in the middle of nowhere. As a result, the birth center is usually on her way into town or back home from what is a very long drive with an infant. She regularly swings into the birth center to feed, change, and just give her kid a break from the car. The midwives are always happy to see her, and welcome her into the space. I know most doctor offices would be thrown off by this type of visit, and most home birth midwives do not have the kind of consistent in-office presence to be able to offer this to their clients. I regularly see older babies pop in to say hi! I see the ability to visit, and the open door model as something cool and unique to birth centers.
2. Playroom— nuuf said. The birth center has a playroom, but also a general atmosphere of accepting children and the noise, mess, and space they take up. Before I was offered the space at the Birth Haven, I talked to several offices that were unwilling to rent or sublease a space to me when I told them I worked on kids. At the birth center, everyone smiles when I chase a toddler down the hall, massaging them. Accepting kids as kids, not things to be turned off, shut up, and put up with is something I really respect about the space. I am sure this makes prenatal visits less stressful. I know it is helpful for my clients who bring older children in when they bring their infants in to see me.
3. They reached out to an awesome massage therapist, and offered her a killer deal with rent their space— kidding, kind of. I think the fact that body work, like massage and chiropractic care are recommended and offered in-house is a huge perk. I mean, there are so many evidence based reasons to access bodywork during pregnancy, yet many providers don’t even mention it— these guys sought out to have it in house and get a discount for their clients. It is more proof to me that these guys care about their clients and their ability to access evidenced based care.
There are all the things people talk about when they hear birth center, like evidence based care, out of hospital, longer prenatal visits, VBAC, and the midwifery model. But as a casual observer, I can see that that is not all of it.