Guiding Principles of a Freestanding Birth Center

Updated on December 6, 2017
NurseFlood profile image

NurseFlood is a self-proclaimed birth nerd with three babies and 8+ years of nursing experience, most of which is in women's health.

Looking for a more intimate, homelike birth experience?

Birth can be a calm, natural experience.
Birth can be a calm, natural experience.

What is a birth center?

A freestanding birth center is an out-of-hospital (OOH) birth facility. This intimate facility combines the goal of pairing a healthcare system with a wellness promotion program that focuses on pregnancy and birth. In this article, we will discuss what to expect at a freestanding birth center.

Birth centers give family-centered care for low risk, healthy women throughout the lifespan, and during a normal pregnancy, labor, and birth. Birth centers often have midwives as the healthcare providers. Depending on the state, this can vary between professional midwives, lay midwives, or certified nurse-midwives. In some areas, a physician may either act as the birth-center director or healthcare provider.

Birth centers often feature water birth, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, and hands-on support by professionals. The environment is peaceful and should encourage the family to feel safe.

In order to provide families with autonomy, it's important to provide birth centers as a childbirth option.

Guiding Principles of Birth Centers

Birth centers are guided by the principles of:

  • prevention,
  • sensitivity,
  • safety,
  • appropriate medical intervention,
  • and cost effectiveness.

Let's break this down.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

— Benjamin Franklin

#1 Prevention

A birth center encourages well-being, disease prevention and positive maternal-child outcomes during pregnancy and birth.

Preventative care has a number of benefits. It contains cost by emphasizing wellness. It encourages responsibility development within the pregnant woman and her family by promoting healthy behaviors. The birth center provides an excellent homegrown starting base for the wellness and prevention programs

#2 Sensitivity

  • Attentive
  • Supportive
  • Choice-oriented
  • Emotional care

#3 Safety

Birth centers are regulated by a variety of institutions and adhere to rigorous safety standards.

The National Birth Center Study I & II (performed in both 1989 and 2013) has shown that:

Few innovations in health service promote lower cost, greater availability, and a high degree of satisfaction with a comparable degree of safety. The results of this study suggest that the modern birth centers can identify women who are at low risk for obstetrical complications and care for them in a way that provides these benefits.

Routine Medical Interventions

Medications and medical interventions, such as an Intravenous catheter (IV) are not necessary in many cases.  A skilled health care provider should be able to obtain IV access quickly, if needed.
Medications and medical interventions, such as an Intravenous catheter (IV) are not necessary in many cases. A skilled health care provider should be able to obtain IV access quickly, if needed.

#4 Appropriate Medical Intervention

When some people picture birth centers, they picture an unsafe place where disaster is waiting to strike. This is not the case. A birth center is the place where appropriate medical intervention meets appropriate midwifery care.

What does this mean?

This means that your provider will have the best interest of your baby and you in mind at all times. There is no strict timeline set for your birth, and it certainly should not be based on the comfort or convenience of the healthcare provider.

Appropriate medical intervention means that emergent medical situations may arise, and the provider will act prudently. This may mean remaining in the birth center with additional medication, monitoring, or oxygen. It can even mean transfer to the hospital for your childbirth by medical interventions or cesarean section.

In a nutshell, medical interventions and medications are minimal in birth centers, except for emergent situations. If a women becomes high risk at any time in the pregnancy, labor, or immediately following the birth, she will be transferred to physician and hospital care.

Most importantly, appropriate medical intervention means to remain hands off when possible, but provide immediate intervention, transfer or emergent care when necessary.

#5 Cost Effectiveness

How do birth centers reduce costs?

  • Limiting the amount of medical interventions and technology used and focusing on provider assessment skill.
  • Promoting self-reliance in primary care by focusing on education, prevention, and wellness
  • Staffing efficiently: staff is only present when mother is
  • Using existing community and hospital services
  • Adhering to existing policies for screening appropriate birth center clients, and for the transfer of pregnant women with medical issues to acute care

The Case for the Birth Center

Clearly, the birth center provides an important facet of pregnancy, birth and postpartum care. The outcomes are positive, when the normalization of birth is paired with a skilled health care provider. Did this article help you understand what to expect at a freestanding birth center?

Have you had access to a birth center? Would you like to?

Interested in maximizing the so-called Fourth Trimester or postpartum period with your newborn? The US Maternity Leave System leaves a lot of parents in the lurch when it comes to time off with their babies.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)