FAQS

WHAT IS A FREESTANDING BIRTH CENTER?

A freestanding birth center is a homelike, out-of- hospital facility where normal low-risk women are able to give birth naturally. A woman’s choices in pregnancy and birth are supported and respected. Our birth center meets all state health, fire, and safety regulations, and is licensed by the state of Alaska. [Further, The Center for Birth holds national accreditation through the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers, which recognizes that our center adheres to stringent requirements for safety and family-centered care.] A birth center provides a program of care that provides a woman and her family education, support, and confidence in the natural, physiologic process of birth and the woman's ability to give birth.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FREESTANDING BIRTH CENTER AND A HOSPITAL BIRTH CENTER?

The major difference between freestanding birth centers and hospital birth centers is that hospitals create policies and practices to care for people who are sick or high-risk, while freestanding birth centers design programs for healthy pregnant women. Also, freestanding birth centers are based on the midwifery model of care which approaches pregnancy and birth as a normal, physiologic, family-centered event, until proven otherwise.

HOW SOON AFTER THE BIRTH DO THE MOTHER AND NEWBORN GO HOME?

Providing that no complications arise and mom and baby are doing well, women may choose to go home as soon as three hours after giving birth. Families also have the option of staying for up to 24 hours, for extra care and support in the first postpartum day. Even after discharge, the doctor or midwife is just a phone call away, as well as a follow-up home visit scheduled for mom and baby the very next day after birth.

WHAT IF AN EMERGENCY HAPPENS AND I OR MY BABY NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL?

In the unlikely event of an emergency, The Center for Birth is located less than a mile from Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. We are also equipped with all routine emergency equipment. The birth team is trained and capable of caring for mothers and newborns until an ambulance arrives. In reality, most transfers that happen are for completely non-emergent reasons such as a stalled labor requiring medication or a request for pain medication- in which case transport happens by private vehicle at an unrushed pace.

WHAT IS A CERTIFIED DIRECT-ENTRY MIDWIFE?

A Certified Direct-Entry Midwife is a knowledgeable, skilled and professional independent midwifery practitioner who has met the standards for certification set by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM), has passed the NARM exam, and is qualified to provide the midwifery model of care, licensed by the State of Alaska.

WHAT MAKES US UNIQUE?

The Center for Birth is a licensed birth center with the State of Alaska and the only one encompassing a collaborative physician-midwife practice where a doctor and midwife bring together their individual knowledge and skill to create a blended model of care. Our patients have the calming, attentive care of a midwife, but also easy access to a physician, should the need arise.

MAY I INTERVIEW THE PRACTITIONERS?

Yes, we actually encourage all prospective families to come and meet with us! Ask questions and get acquainted. Take a tour and see the whole building. While you are here for your interview, fill out our insurance registration form and we will do the research for you in regards to insurance payment eligibility.

WHAT HAPPENS AT MY FIRST VISIT?

The first visit is a very important time for us to get to know you and your family. A thorough history is taken; we need to know about you, your family and your history. Your diet, exercise habits, medications, etc., are very important to the health of you and your baby. We will advise you on changes or additions to your current regime that we feel may provide an optimal outcome. We will discuss your plans and the course of your care; routine testing, available genetic screening, and ultrasounds, that you may want or choose to decline. This also gives you the opportunity to ask questions of us! We will also tour the birth center.

WHAT HAPPENS AT SUBSEQUENT VISITS?

Our appointments are scheduled for 30-60 minutes, depending on your gestation, any testing being done, and your individual needs. We follow a routine course of visits, generally once a month until 28 weeks, then every two weeks until 36 weeks, and then weekly until you deliver. Of course that may vary according to your specific situation and needs.

WHAT TESTS ARE REQUIRED? MAY I DECLINE ANY?

Only low risk women may birth in the center. It is very important that some testing be done to ascertain that both you and your baby are, and continue to be, low risk. You are highly encouraged to have initial blood work done during your first trimester. We need to know that you are not anemic, that you are immune to Rubella, or whether or not you have ever been exposed to any STIs. We must know what your blood type is and whether or not you have developed any antibodies. Later in pregnancy you will need to have your hemoglobin and hematocrit re-tested. This is also a time that a glucose tolerance test is done. A GBS culture is completed at approximately 36-37 weeks gestation. All genetic testing is optional, and available for families that desire it. Complete fetal anatomy ultrasounds are referred out to one of our local sonography practices. We place a high priority in supporting patient’s rights for informed consent and informed refusal.

CAN I HAVE A WATER BIRTH?

Waterbirth is a wonderful option; helping to ease labor discomfort and providing a calm environment for a gentle birth. Statistically around 80% of our moms give birth in the water with 90% choosing water to ease labor discomfort.

CAN I CHOOSE AN EPIDURAL OR PAIN MEDICATION?

For your safety, epidurals and pain medication are not allowed to be administered at our birth center. However, some labors prove to be longer or harder than anticipated, and if needed or wanted, the hospital is within minutes away. We support you and will help you to get that care as quickly as possible.

WHAT IF I NEED ANTIBIOTICS FOR GROUP B STREP?

A positive GBS status does NOT risk you out of an Out-of-Hospital birth at The Center for Birth. All women who are positive will be given the recommendation to receive IV antibiotics as suggested by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines; for those moms that decline antibiotics, we will then encourage the use of the UK ‘hibiclens’ protocol.

IF I HAVE RISK FACTORS, CAN I STILL GIVE BIRTH AT THE CENTER FOR BIRTH?

There are some risk factors that risk women out of birthing at our birth center, such as: Twins, breech presentation, labor before 37 weeks gestation, labor after 42 weeks gestation, certain medical conditions including but not limited to a previous cesarean section or other uterine wall surgery, insulin dependent diabetes, or an active herpes outbreak. There are also risk factors that can arise during labor that would risk you out and require transport to the hospital. We discuss these specific issues during our prenatal visits, in-depth.

HOW DO YOU MONITOR THE BABY’S HEARTBEAT DURING LABOR?

We monitor the baby throughout labor using the hand-held Doppler, listening intermittently at prescribed intervals according to the stage of labor, and what we are hearing. The Doppler can be used underwater for water births. We follow the accepted national guidelines of the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC). They are proven to be safe and efficient at following the well-being of the baby during labor. Of course if at any time if we hear a heart rate that is non-reassuring we would transfer from the birth center to the hospital.

WHAT IF I NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL DURING LABOR?

While no one wants to consider the possibility of changing plans, it is a reality that we do sometimes need to birth at the hospital instead of the center for safety’s sake. In that event we try and make the transition as smooth as possible. Care is then managed by the on-call physician at the hospital that you either choose (time-allowing) or we go to, based on your medical need.

HOW LONG CAN I STAY AT THE BIRTH CENTER AFTER GIVING BIRTH?

After your natural birth in the Center you and your baby will get tucked in and made comfortable in the queen size family bed, and be encouraged to breastfeed and bond. Discharge cannot occur until at least 3 hours after birth, and both mom and baby must have had an uneventful course of care and in stable condition. If needed or desired, families may stay up to 24 hours after birth. One of your care providers will come to your home 24 hours after birth to follow-up with a home visit. We will examine both you and your baby; check vital signs, and overall well-being. We will weigh the baby, perform another physical exam, assess for jaundice, complete the first Newborn Metabolic Screen, and the Critical Congenital Heart Defect Screening . We will help & support breastfeeding, answer questions, and offer guidance, all in the comfort of your own home.

DOES MY BABY GET THE ROUTINE TESTS AFTER BIRTH?

Before you go home; usually within the 2nd hour after birth, your baby will have his or her first physical examination performed in your room and in your view by the midwife. Vitamin K erythromycin eye ointment is given at this time, if you desire. We will weigh and measure your baby at this time. Your baby will have the newborn metabobolic-screening test performed on the 1st postpartum day and again at the 2 week visit.

I HAVE OTHER CHILDREN AT HOME. CAN I BRING THEM TO MY APPOINTMENTS?

We pride ourselves in offering family-centered care. The growth of a family is a family event, and we welcome your family at the office for your prenatal visits as well as birth, if you desire.

CAN I BRING THEM TO THE BIRTH?

Of course! You may have whomever you desire to be of support and present at your birth, including your other children. You can chat with us throughout the pregnancy about how best to prepare your older children for the birth. We do require that an extra support person be available and assigned to any children throughout your labor and birth.

HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE BIRTH CENTER?

We offer free consultations and tours of the birth center. This “meet and greet” is a great time to come see the center, speak with the doctor or midwife, and get a feel for whether this is a good “fit” for you. A consultation can be made by calling us at 907-357-7781 or emailing us at contactus@akbirth.com.

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