Should Vancouver Have a Birth Center?

A question that comes up a lot in Vancouver’s birth community is whether or not we should be advocating for a birth centre. My home town of Edmonton has a birth centre, and Ontario has just announced that they will be opening one as well. Many people are surprised to hear me say I’d prefer to dedicate time, money and resources to other things. Why is this?

Because I think we should dedicate money and resources to educating about home birth. I know a lot of people think birth centres are a happy medium, but I would much rather see people get educated about home birth so they understand how safe it is, and be able to find the proper support for a home birth, and to take advantage of our hospitals only if there is a true need for our expert medical staff working in hospitals. I think the mental stress of deciding when to GO somewhere, travelling to that place is half the problem with the birth experience.

I think birth centres are a great business idea, because they appeal to people who like the idea of home birth but aren’t ready to birth at home or don’t know how to find the right support for it. But truthfully, I think home birth is where it’s at from a best-birth-experience perspective.

Some people get overwhelmed with the idea of having to clean up from a home birth but the answer to that is simple: choose a birth team that knows their job is to support you with any of the “work” associated with a home birth.

I ALWAYS do postpartum clean-up for my clients… even if for some reason there is a hospital transfer, I drag my exhausted doula butt over to the family’s home so they have a nice clean home to go back to. I was just saying at last night’s free prenatal group how important it is while interviewing support people for your birth to ask if they help with post-birth clean up. I know some birth professionals see this as ‘not their job’ but I see it DEFINITELY my job. I want my clients to focus on their birth and their new baby, not clean-up tasks!

I think options are great, and I wouldn’t STOP anyone from opening up a birth centre here in Vancouver, but my personal hope is a shift in our birth culture towards one that trust birth and supports more families in birthing safely at home. What do you think about birth centres? Please comment below.

(Adapted from my participation in a thread on Vancouver’s Prenatal Coach’s page with placenta encapsulator Roxanna Farnsworth).

Jessica Austin, Birth Doula: Childbirth Services in Vancouver, BC

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  6 comments for “Should Vancouver Have a Birth Center?

  1. Sabrina Antoinette Magis Nicho
    January 26, 2014 at 12:09 am

    When I learned I was pregnant with my daughter, I really wanted a home birth, but living with my mother, who was opposed to the idea, I got stuck finding an OB/GYN, & birthing in a hospital 2 appease my mother. I was induced @ 41+3 when I don’t feel it was medically necessary, had a difficult time breastfeeding, not knowing that nipple pain of that bad was normal @ first, getting conflicting information about what way to position was “right”, & one nite when I was desperate 4 a few hours sleep, after barely having had any in a couple of days, a nice nurse said she would make sure I would get a couple of hours. But when my husband came back with a nurse, she basically said “Too bad, suck it up, get used to it.” I was an overwhelmed first timer and felt like a crappy mom, TWO DAYS IN! I would have jumped @ the chance to birth in a birthing centre, if it had been an option 4 me with my daughter, who is now 3. Thankfully, when I was living someplace that allowed me 2, I birthed my son @ home, & it was truly a wonderful experience, as I knew it would be.

  2. Lindser
    May 27, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Like so many in this city, I live in a house split into units. I’m sure there are plenty of women (myself included) who simply don’t have the option of having a home birth due to lack of space or extremely close living quarters to neighbours, ie. apartments. A home birth would be ideal but just isn’t in the cards for me – a birthing centre would be a close second choice and much preferred to the hospital :)

  3. December 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Great post Jessica, I totally agree that we should be focusing our efforts elsewhere in regards to education about birth. I must have missed the recent post, were you all discussing a free standing birth centre or one attached/linked to a hospital?

    In my ideal world, I live in a small community, with a spare “cabin” with a nice big tub in the large washroom to have women use if they aren’t locals, but this is far from being a birth centre.

    I have to be honest, I have done very little research when it comes to birth centres, I feel like if you need to be in the hospital (emotionally or medically) that you should be in a hospital, not a medical facility with really lovely wall paper.

    One thing that REALLYS annoys me is all the hype about Ontarios first birth centre, yet there is already one in Ontario for aboriginal women in Brantford, Ontario – from my understand, the Midwives that serve it, only serve the women there and not outside of it. I will need to look more into the details of Ontarios SECOND birth centre and how it’s run with hospital privileges and Midwives and who is eligible etc.

    Thanks for the food for thought!

  4. December 19, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I would love for everyone to birth at home however I understand that it may not be what is right for every women. A birth center provides a nice in between option.

  5. bacon__phat
    December 18, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    I agree with you. I think birth centers are a great thing (and recently had my 3rd child at Edmonton’s wonderful birth center), but when it was over I thought, “why didn’t i just stay home?” It was a fabulous experience and beautiful facility, but my home could have provided the same level of comfort (if not more) and same distance to hospital, should a transfer have been necessary. I definitely think we need more education and resources for home birth, and absolutely plan (should we have more kids) to birth at home next time :)

    • December 18, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      Thanks for commenting! Glad to hear you had such a great birth :-)

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