As early as February, expectant mothers will have another option before them that will give them the ability to attend a free-standing birthing center. Billed as the first of its kind in Buffalo, and the second in NY State, Birthing Center of Buffalo (located in the same office as Buffalo Womenservices, 2500 Main Street) is completely unique in that it will be the only combination birth center and abortion clinic in the country.
Over the years BRO has followed the pursuits of Eileen Stewart (Certified Nurse Midwife), as she has explored opportune ways for women to receive the most advanced and most natural birthing processes, whether at home or in the hospital. The culmination of her life’s work has always been to open a center that would be the best of all worlds when it comes to the birthing process.
Along with Dr. Katharine Morrison, MD, FACOG (board-certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist and owner of Buffalo Womenservices) and Terri Fregoe, Executive Director of Buffalo Womenservices, the three are setting out to offer women and their families “high touch, low-tech” care in a setting unparalleled in the industry. “There is a huge demand right now for alternative birth options in Buffalo,” said Sally Heron, Services Coordinator at the center. “And we thrilled to be able to meet that need.”
Judging from the images of the center that she passed along, one thing is for certain – a visit to the Birthing Center of Buffalo looks to be a lot more comfortable than a typical hospital stay – almost like a B&B for birthing, along with over 50 years of experience from one of the most qualified teams in the field.
In order to get a better idea of the center, as an alternative to a hospital, I asked Sally to answer a few questions that came to mind when considering this newest option for birthing.
What are the top three advantages of a free standing birthing center, over being part of a hospital?
1. Better outcomes for mom and baby. Compared to hospitals, Birthing Centers have lower c-section rates, lower rates of interventions overall including the use of inductions, episiotomies, and forceps and vacuum deliveries. We also have much higher rates of breastfeeding and parent satisfaction. One study showed that 98.8% of women who birthed at a birth center would recommend it to their friends or return for another birth. Free-standing birth centers have been proved to be as safe – if not safer – than hospitals.
2. We offer women real options. In our Birthing Center, women are able to labor and birth in our jacuzzi or large shower. During labor, our patients are able to eat and drink. As we don’t use epidurals or continuous electronic fetal monitoring, our patients are free to labor and birth in whatever positions feel comfortable to them. Movement is encouraged! The numerous restrictions that traditional hospitals insist on are designed to make the hospital staff comfortable, regardless of the mother’s desires. Here, our emphasis is solely on supporting our patients!
3. We see birth as an empowering experience. Traditional maternity care sees pregnancy and birth as dangerous conditions to be “managed”. We see birth as a normal experience, yet also one that can be incredibly transformative and empowering when the mother and her partner are safe, supported, and well-prepared. Our patients attend comprehensive childbirth education classes, receive breastfeeding education and support, and have the opportunity to connect with other women at similar points in their pregnancies. All of our patients must have a doula, a non-medical person trained in labor support.
Do you accept all of the regular forms of insurance? Are the costs the same?
Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible for an out of hospital birth. Our Center is for healthy women with low-risk pregnancies. If people have questions about eligibility, they may contact us for more information.
Insurance is a very complicated issue! Although birthing center costs are far below those for hospital birth (and, again, with fantastic outcomes), insurance companies are so far refusing to pay the “facility fee” to the birthing center. We think it’s really unfortunate that WNY insurance companies are limiting their customers’ options.
When do you anticipate opening?
We are currently in the process of passing NYS DOH inspection. It is possible that we may open our doors even before February. People have been working to open a birth center in WNY for the past 30 years – we are so close to making it a reality!
Birthing Center of Buffalo
2500 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14214
ph: (716) 835-2510
fax: (716) 835-2654