A new study has been published ( Jan. 30, 2013) called Outcomes of Care in Birth Centers: Demonstration of a Durable Model, by Susan Rutledge Stapleton CNM, DNP, Cara Osborne SD, CNM and Jessica Illuzzi MD, MS. While this was not the first study on the subject, it is the most recent and it was aimed at examining outcomes of birth center care in the current maternity care environment.
The study involved 79 midwifery-led birth centers in 33 US States over the course of 3 years (2007-2010). The results clearly demonstrate the safety of the midwifery model in an out of hospital environment. During a time when health care costs are skyrocketing and interventions in obstetric care have steadily increased this is excellent news for families.
Of the 15,574 women who planned for and were still eligible for birth center births (a variety of risk factors can make a woman ineligible), 84% of them gave birth at the birth center. 4% were transferred to hospital care without laboring at the birth center at all and 12% were transferred during labor. Of the whole number, regardless of where they gave birth, only 1% required assisted delivery and only 6% required cesarean birth. This number is especially significant, as the percentage of surgical births for the same risk category of women is 24%. The rates of fetal and neonatal death in this study (.47/1000 and .40/1000 respectively) were comparable to low-risk births in US hospitals and there were no maternal deaths.
Considering that hospital birth, even low-intervention birth without pain medication, costs about twice that of a birth in a freestanding birth center, this is excellent news for families. To add to the excellent outcomes found in this study, most women report excellent experiences from their birth center births. Certainly worth considering!
If you have questions about how to choose a place to birth or a care provider, please see my website with the North Sound Birth Collective. We are happy to help!