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Birth centers come in many shapes and sizes, from hospital birth centers staffed by Certified Nurse Midwives to birth centers in which only your midwife will be present when you give birth. If you have your heart set on a birth center delivery, your next task is deciding which kind of birth center you think is the best match for you. What are some of the questions you can ask before deciding on a birth center delivery?

Questions about birth center staff and procedures

Who will attend my delivery? Can I come into the birth center at any time? What kind of midwives staff the birth center, and how experienced are they? What is their transfer rate, and which complications of birth are they equipped to handle and on the flip side, which ones require transfer? Who will be able to attend my labor? Would it be OK to bring a doula, your partner, and another friend if you wanted to? What are their routine interventions? Are they hands off, or do they engage in things like regular cervical checks, fetal monitoring, and augmentation of labor? What will you need to bring for your birth, and how long do mothers and babies usually stay after birth? Can you have a water birth?

Questions about emergencies and safety

How do birth center staff ensure you are low risk, and when do they transfer you to OB care? What is the birth center's c-section rate? This would obviously refer to transfers, not c-sections they carry out on the premises. How long would it take to transfer to a hospital? (Don't assume it's not very long if you choose an in-hospital birth center) What is the transfer procedure like? What newborn equipment do they have available? Are all staff trained in neonatal resuscitation? From how many weeks pregnancy can you deliver at the birth center? Do they practice labor induction for "overdue" mothers, and if so with which methods?

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