Jesse Ridgway

Freestanding birth centers: Why not in Vermont?

Giving birth is a vulnerable, intimate, profound moment. People deserve to birth their babies in the places where they feel safest and most supported.

I have been a certified nurse midwife for seven years, and I have lived in Vermont for that entire time. As a midwife I have taken care of hundreds of families. I have caught babies in small community hospitals as well as large tertiary care centers.

But when it came time to have my own three babies, I chose to give birth outside of a hospital. I knew, from my professional experience, that hospitals - while important and safe places to give birth for many - are not universally necessary.

Giving birth outside of a hospital does not always mean giving birth at home. Many people choose a third option: a freestanding birth center. Freestanding birth centers are homelike facilities that are typically staffed by midwives. They are different from the birth centers inside hospitals. They take care of medically uncomplicated, or “low risk,” people.

And Vermont is one of only eight states in the country that doesn't have a single freestanding birth center in the entire state.

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