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Hospital Birth Centers ≠ Freestanding Birth Centers

Let's talk about Birth Centers today! As of 2020, 37 US states have at least one Freestanding Birth Center. These are out-of-hospital spaces, run by midwives, where people can go to birth babies in a warm and inviting setting. These spaces commonly get confused with Hospital L&D floors, labeled as birth centers, but they're not the same!

Note: in a few rare cases, there are true birth centers attached to hospitals. They must be separate from the L&D floor, and meet certain standards for independence. This is not a commonly used model.


Characteristics of Freestanding Birth Centers:

  • Low risk pregnancies only (~85% of all pregnant people are considered low risk)

  • No medical induction

  • Some may offer non-medical inductions, such as membrane sweeping or drinking castor oil

  • No speeding labor up with Pitocin

  • No electronic fetal monitoring - they use intermittent monitoring with Dopplers