We try to anticipate questions you might have about our services and provide the answers here.
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How are birth centers different?
Birth centers were designed for healthy, low-risk mothers and healthy babies. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere feeling more like a nice country inn or somebody’s really well-kept home. There is also a lot of privacy at the birth center because of its low volume. We don’t have 15 or 20 women giving birth at the same time. And because it’s the place where mothers have come for all their prenatal care, they are very familiar with it. They know the staff who work here and the staff knows them. They know the birth rooms since they have looked at them several times and shown them to their parents, friends and their other children.
Through the educational program that goes on throughout the pregnancy, parents know what to expect once the mother goes into labor. A mother knows that she can wear her own clothes and that she can eat and drink in labor. She will be encouraged to get out of bed and walk around. She is able to choose her support people – whether it’s her own mother, sister, partner or birth doula. It’s up to the mother to decide who she wants to be there. This is her labor and whatever makes her feel good is what the staff wants to do for her. The mother can labor in any position that is comfortable for her. We know that babies come out better when the mother is relaxed, so we try to provide an atmosphere where she feels confident and comfortable so that she will use her body well.
Birth centers promote breastfeeding. In fact, because we know that a baby is alert and will nurse well in the first hour after birth, breastfeeding is encouraged immediately. In this way, breastfeeding and the education and support of the mother in the breastfeeding process is established early on.
There are no routines in a birth center. There is no routine prep or enema or IV. We do not do the continuous electronic fetal monitoring that keeps a mother tethered to a machine. The baby’s heartbeat is monitored, but it is monitored intermittently with a handheld doppler. Also, birth center care reflects a difference in philosophy about episiotomies. We don’t cut routine episiotomies. Instead, we use warm compresses to ease the passage of the baby so the mother won’t tear. The episiotomy rate in our birth center and our referring hospital is less than 2 percent.
The most important difference you will find in birth centers, (and a common reason that many people choose a birth center) is that there is no separation of mother and baby. Anything that is done for the baby – treatment or exam – is always done in front of the parents so that they may learn about their baby. The same staff takes care of the mother and baby together. The nurse-midwives in the birth center care for the family as a unit.
Now, what about problems? We know that some people may have problems, so there are systems set up to deal with transfers to the hospital. We know that we are going to transfer about 12 percent of the women in labor and that the vast majority of these transfers are not emergencies. Only about two percent of women go to the hospital as emergency transports.
The birth center is affiliated with UNC Hospital with backup from Family Medicine and if a transfer is necessary, the midwife accompanies the family to the hospital where she will continue to care for the mother with the assistance of Family Medicine and/or Obstetric faculty. We are located only minutes from UNC, which insures that if the mother or the baby develop a problem, we can get them the level of care needed.
Do you provide primary care?
Absolutely! We actually are primary care providers in addition to our birth center. The nurse practitioners and midwives provide all your well woman care here, such as annual exams, gyn appointments, paps, etc. You certainly don’t have to be planning a birth to come see us. We see women of all ages from puberty through post menopause. Please call us to schedule your visit. We look forward to hearing from you!
What services do you offer?
Women’s Birth & Wellness Center provides services for all your health care needs. We offer wellness care and low-risk maternity care:
- Complete physical exams
- Primary care for women
- Annual gynecological exams
- Laboratory studies
- PAP tests
- Breast exams
- Treatment of minor gynecological problems
- Treatment of common ailments such as colds, flu, bladder infections
- Menopause consultation and support
- Birth control & family planning & intrauterine insemination
- Pre-pregnancy counseling
- Midwifery & nursing care throughout labor & delivery
- Facility with comfortable birth rooms, private baths and large tubs, family area with kitchen
- Immediate newborn care
- Breastfeeding support
- Postpartum home visit
- Telephone contact each postpartum day until home visit
- Postpartum visits at two and six weeks
- Nurse Midwife on call 24 hours a day
What is Women’s Birth & Wellness Center’s mission?
Women’s Birth & Wellness Center is dedicated to providing women of diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds with comprehensive primary, maternity and lactation healthcare throughout the life cycle.
Is a birth center safe?
The National Birth Center Study II, conducted by the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) and published in the January/February 2013 issue of the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, highlights the benefits for women who seek care at midwife-led birth centers. Findings also reinforce longstanding evidence that midwife-led birth centers provide safe and effective health care for women during pregnancy, labor, and birth.
The study, which included more than 15,500 women who received care in 79 midwife-led birth centers in 33 U.S. states from 2007 through 2010, found that fewer than one in sixteen (six percent) of participants required a Cesarean birth compared to nearly one in four (24%) similarly low-risk women cared for in a hospital setting. Expecting families who choose the birth center setting in the U.S. can expect high-quality, family-centered care. Less than two percent of women who choose the birth center setting will require an urgent transfer for either mother or newborn. The stillbirth and newborn death rates are comparable to rates seen in other low-risk populations. The information provided by the new National Birth Center Study II will help women and families make evidence-based, informed decision about their babies’ births.
How do I know if a birth center birth is right for me?
The majority of women are good candidates for a birth center birth. Many European countries utilize a midwifery model of care and out of hospital birth is quite common and accepted. Women who choose an out-of-hospital birth are committed to maintaining optimum health and well-being during their pregnancies and birthing naturally. For example, they:
- Eat a healthy, well balanced diet
- Continue to exercise in preparation for their birth and recovery
- Educate themselves by reading from many different resources
- Ask questions during their prenatal visits
- Take advantage of community resources
- Prepare for birth by taking one of the many different childbirth preparation courses are offered in the area.
Women choosing a birth center birth understand that in most cases, minimal medical intervention is safest for both mother and baby, and in fact support and patience are all that are needed as she births her baby. Sometimes, however, pregnancy and birth are unpredictable and intervention may be necessary to ensure the best possible healthy outcome. In such a situation, since a trusting and respectful relationship has been established between the family and the midwives, a discussion of risks, benefits and alternatives occurs with ample time for questions. Then, even if the birth doesn’t go as expected, the family feels comfortable with the plan of care, and the midwife continues to be present and supportive during the entire process.
Do you have an age limit for maternity patients?
You must be 45 years old or younger at the time of conception to enroll in prenatal care.
I have certain health problems. How do I know if an out-of-hospital birth is safe for me?
Many women have health issues that are well controlled by lifestyle or medication and can still birth safely at the birth center. Examples are:
- Thyroid disorders managed with medication
- Mild asthma
- Depression or anxiety managed with counseling or medication
- Abnormal pap smears, or surgery on the cervix
- Pregnancy with a prior history of infertility
- Women 35-45 years old
- History of miscarriage
Some conditions make out-of-hospital births potentially unsafe. The following is a partial list of common medical conditions that would “risk out” a woman from the birth center:
- Hypertension or high blood pressure prior to pregnancy
- Diabetes requiring insulin or medication
- Prior surgery on the uterus
- A new patient with a prior Cesarean birth planning on a vaginal birth with a subsequent pregnancy or VBAC. At this time, we can only offer VBACs to our established patients whose prior pregnancy under our care ended with a Cesarean birth.
- Bleeding or blood-clotting disorders
- With a first pregnancy, being very overweight with a Body Mass Index higher than 35 or being very slim with a BMI lower than 18 and a history of an eating disorder
- With a second pregnancy or higher, being very overweight with a BMI higher than 40
- History of a blood clot
- Smoking more than one pack of cigarettes per day
- IVF Pregnancy
- A chronic infectious disease, such as HIV, Hepatits B or C, or Tuberculosis
- Certain psychiatric disorders, such as psychosis, especially related to a previous pregnancy or postpartum experience
- Certain autoimmune disorders, such as Lupus
- Twins or other multiples
You will be asked about your health history on your intake screening phone call. Any question will be discussed with a midwife and decided on a case-by-case basis.
What are my payment options and what insurances do you accept?
We accept and file with many major insurance companies and Medicaid. Please see Insurance for additional information. Call your insurance company to verify your coverage.
Payment plans and sliding fee scales are available for the uninsured.
For financial questions, please contact our Business Director at 919-933-3301 extension 218.
What number do I call if I have billing questions?
For billing questions, call Midwife’s Billing Services at 1-800-874-2540.
How do I donate to Women’s Birth & Wellness Center?
You may make a donation on our donate page, ncbirthcenter.org by clicking the ‘Donate’ button, or you may mail a check to Women’s Birth & Wellness Center at 930 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Suite 202, Chapel Hill, NC 27514. In the memo, please write donation and you will receive your proper tax receipt in the mail.
Other ways to donate:
Suggested WBWC Bequest Language for your Attorney:
To donate a remainder interest in your estate: “After settling all just debts, expenses and other specific gift provisions, I give, bequeath and devise _______ percent of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate to Women’s Birth & Wellness Center (Tax ID 20-0181203), a charitable coporation presently having offices at 930 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Suite 202, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.”
To donate a specific dollar amount or asset from your estate: “I give, bequeath and devise $_______ or _______ (list asset) to Women’s Birth & Wellness Center (Tax ID 20-0181203), a chartiable corporation presently having offices at 930 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Suite 202, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.”
Also, be sure to check out our resources page for other useful information.