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Getting Ready for Your Birth Center Birth

Chelsea Gonzales


In the past few months we've covered how to prepare for an awesome hospital birth and how home birth mamas should get ready for the big event. However, we have yet to talk about preparing for a birth center birth.

Giving birth at a birth center is the perfect middle ground for those who are nervous about a home birth, but don't love the idea of the interventions most hospitals insist on. They are relaxed, comfy environments, and the staff are well trained midwives with plenty of medical equipment and knowledge. Additionally, birth centers know when a hospital transfer is necessary and know how to get mama and baby the care they need quickly.

If you are planning a birth center birth, there are a few things you'll want to do to prepare. Here are a few of the most important steps you must take.

Make an Informed Decision

First, you'll need to choose the birth center that’s right for you. Seek out all of your options and set up interviews at each. Check out the facilities offered, ask any questions you may have, and get a feel for how the place operates and whether it feels right for you.

After seeing every center and speaking with the midwives at each, compare your notes to find the one that seems the best fit for you.

Hire a Doula

Despite the fact that birth centers offer excellent, personal care, you'll probably also want to round out your care team with a doula. You probably won't need your doula to be an advocate as she would be in a hospital, but she can definitely be of assistance when it comes to helping you find comfort. Doulas are also great for keeping you company during a long labor, getting your spouse involved, and fetching food or anything else you may need. They are truly an invaluable part of any birth team.

Educate Yourself

Every pregnant mama should attend at least one good birth class. This is even more important for those who are looking for a natural birth experience. In fact, I recommend seeking out a few different classes or even a series of classes if possible.

In addition to the classes, be sure to do your own reading and research. Educate yourself on the art of giving birth and go in equipped with techniques to help you work through intense contractions.

Many women also use this knowledge to formulate a birth plan. This is an excellent idea. After all, even though midwives at a birth center are likely to be very natural birth oriented, there is no way for them to know your specific preferences unless you share them.

Take a Tour

Obviously, you'll get to see some of the birth center facilities at the initial consultation and during any prenatal visits you may have. That said, it's likely you won't get to see everything. For this reason, you may want to request a tour a month or two before your due date.

During this tour, take note of what kinds of amenities the center offers and what you may need to bring from home. Most birth centers will have items such as birth balls and a nice tub, but you may need to bring things like the pillows you prefer and a music player of some sort.

Pack Wisely

Packing for a birth center birth is a bit different than packing for a hospital birth. Many birth centers will only keep you for 12 hours after the birth, and some keep you for as little as 4 hours, meaning you won't need a whole lot.

Still, you will want enough to have fresh clothes should you bleed on one set. You will also want a birthing gown and non-skid socks, a two-piece swimsuit and swim trunks for your partner, your favorite water bottle and chapstick, your glasses, and anything else that makes you comfortable.

For baby, you'll need to make sure you have a properly installed car seat as well as some diapers and clothes. You may also need a nursing pillow or bottles and formula, depending on your feeding plan.

By following these steps as well as any instructions your caretakers give, you'll be well on your way to a wonderful birth center birth.