Written by Kirsti Kreutzer
On January 31st, the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health published the National Birth Center Study II, and the interwebs lit up with happy blog posts (like these: Childbirth Connection, Evidence Based Birth, Birth Without Fear, Science and Sensibility, ImprovingBirth.org, and our own). The American Association of Birth Centers also created a ton of beautiful graphics to share on Facebook, touting the incredible findings of the study, like this one:
Birth Centers have been serving low-risk women for the last 35 years, and this new study shows that they set the bar pretty high for everyone involved with birthin’ babies. With a C-section rate of only 6%, clearly midwife-led care is the gold standard. This study basically proves, yet again, that when women are treated with respect and placed at the center of their care they can give birth to their babies just fine, thank you very much!
Last fall, my husband and I had the distinct pleasure of traveling to Pennsylvania to work on the Birth Center Impact Video Project. We recorded interviews with folks in the communities surrounding two of the oldest birth centers in the USA – The Birth Center in Bryn Mawr and Valley Birth Place. Each of these birth centers has been serving families for over 20 years! A second film crew visited Birth Care in Bart, PA and Reading Birth & Women’s Center. We edited some of the footage into four short films that depict the Archetype of the Birth Center (videos below).
Imagine a world with a birth center in every community! A world where all women began their pregnancy with midwives who viewed pregnancy as a natural life-process and helped each woman make choices regarding her pregnancy and birth that were best for her and her family. Because moving birth away from the medical model is not simply about lowering the C-section rate and saving money, it’s about helping women to reclaim birth as a sacred, powerfully personal life experience. In my opinion, the birth center model represents our North Star. Let’s start moving maternity care in that direction!
The 4 Facets of the Birth Center Archetype in a community. . .
The birth center is:
Sanctuary where mothers give birth
Learning place for intimacy, birth, & family
Supportive community for women & families
Midwife’s place of business