It has recently been recognized that American women are at much increased risk of dying or sustaining significant damage during pregnancy, delivery and the postpartum period than women in other countries. Additionally, American women of color are at even higher risk--4 times the risk of dying during pregnancy--than their white counterparts.In fact, over 60 countries have better maternal safety profiles than the US. In searching for reasons why a country that spends more than any other on Health Care performs so poorly when it comes to pregnant women, many answers have been offered. I’m sure it will come as a hugh surprise (NOT) that the official answer is that women themselves are to blame—we are too old, too fat, have too many bad habits, have unrealistic expectations and too many pre-existing medical conditions. The blame is never directed to our fee-for-service system or physicians themselves—where the blame actually rests.
What does this have to do with a Free Standing Birth Center? Although out of hospital birth is rare—only 2% of babies are born outside hospitals in the US—we offer a superior safety record, patient satisfaction, much lower Cesarean Section and induction rates—all at much lower cost than hospitals. How is this possible? WE RESPECT WOMEN AND THE BIRTH PROCESS ITSELF. We know that women deserve better than authoritarian medical care full of threats, that women who will be entrusted to care for a vulnerable newborn can also be trusted to make the right decisions in pregnancy, labor and birth. We hope that the option of a different sort of care also makes hospitals more accommodating to the wishes of pregnant women and their families.
We are not anti-hospital! We have a transfer agreement between our facility and Oshei Children’s Hospital and Dr. Morrison has admitting privileges at all the Kaleida Hospitals. One of the things that makes out of hospital birth safe is easy transfer to hospital if there are any concerns about mother or baby. Additionally, if it is decided that hospital transfer is required, Dr. Morrison continues caring for the patient in hospital, providing a secure, seamless care experience. Our patients are warmly welcomed at Oshei Children’s Hospital because nurses and staff respect our physician and our families. This continuity of care from prenatal care, labor, birth, birth center and hospital, if necessary, sets us apart from many other out of hospital options.
Although New York State is generally progressive when it comes to reproductive rights, it did not sign onto the Birth Center portion of the Affordable Care Act. This means that insurers are obligated to pay for hospital birth but not for Birth Centers. Due to Dr. Morrison’s reputation and many years in Buffalo, she was able to win contracts with Independent Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield, so that the Birthing Center of Buffalo is in network with those insurers. Importantly, we also have contracts with Managed Care Medicaid for both of those private insurers. In Erie County, clients with a Managed Care Medicaid insurance have the right to switch to another Medicaid program—so every client with Medicaid has the right to the Birth Center option.
Out of hospital birth is not for everyone! It is for the client who believes that labor is not punishment to be avoided, who believes that birth is best untampered with and who prizes autonomy and options. To quote one of my favorite movie—A League of Their Own—“It’s supposed to be hard…. The hard is what makes it great.”