On the web
If you go
The following are the regular classes offered by The Birth Center of Boulder. Many classes are open to the public.
The Early Days, Growing, Preparing for Birth, Baby and Breastfeeding: 4-6 p.m. Tuesdays, for birth center families.
Postpartum Doula Tea: 6-7 p.m. once a month on Tuesdays, free. Meet the team over tea.
Milk Cafe: 10 a.m.-noon Thursdays, $10. Breastfeeding support group.
Healthy Mama Community Acupuncture: 9 a.m.-noon Fridays, $25-$40 sliding scale. Affordable acupuncture to help with prenatal and postpartum imbalances.
Ayurveda Yoga Classes: Date/time TBA, $15.
Prenatal Yoga: 12:15-1:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays starting Sept. 8, cost TBA.
Prenatal/Postnatal Yoga :5-6:15 p.m. Tuesdays starting Sept. 8, cost TBA.
Nature's Medicine Chest: 1-2:15 p.m. Fridays, $10-$25 sliding scale. How to use herbs, essential oils, homeopathy and supplements for health and ailments.
Mindful Mondays: 6-8 p.m., by donation. Mondays. Monthly meditation classes for parents, practitioners and others.
By the numbers
• Accredited birth centers in the United States have increased from 170 in 2004 to 248 in 2013.
• The number of birth centers increased 14 percent from 2009 to 2010, and 27 percent from 2010 to 2013.
• The cesarean rate in the United States for low-risk women who would likely be eligible for birth center care is 27 percent. The C-section rate of women who had planned their birth at birth centers is 6 percent.
• Women birth on their backs in 68 percent of hospital births.
• Women with midwife care had fewer fetal losses before 24 weeks; less analgesia during labor; fewer episiotomies; increased rates of spontaneous vaginal births; increased feelings of control during birth; and were more likely to initiate breastfeeding.
Sources: The American Association for Birth Centers, HealthypPeople.gov (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
Any day now.
Brittney Wilburn is expecting her third child any day. Perhaps her baby was waiting on the health department.
Wilburn will be the first mom to give birth in the new Birth Center of Boulder.
The doors were poised to open, pending the health department's thumbs-up. As Wilburn's due date drew nearer and nearer, she began making peace with the idea of a hospital birth. Finally, the health department gave it a go.
The Birth Center opened Thursday.
The Boulder mom signed up to deliver in Boulder County's first birth center — the third in the state — as soon as she learned about it.
She had her first child in a birth center in Englewood and her second at home. Colorado's other birth center is in Grand Junction.
"We went round and round about whether we wanted to do a home birth again, and ultimately I wanted to be away from the chaos of day-to-day life in the house," Wilburn says.
A birth center is sort of a middle ground between a hospital and a home birth. It's a freestanding facility of independent practitioners and midwives, set up with special birthing tubs and large beds, as well as massage, acupuncture, yoga and various pre- and post-natal support groups.
The small group of certified nurse midwives co-running The Birth Center of Boulder call it a fusion of ancient art and modern science, centered on evidence-based care.
Unlike a hospital, there is no pain medication and moms don't stay here overnight. They're sent home four to eight hours after delivery. That evening, a doula visits their home for a "tuck-in service." The doula prepares an Ayurvedic meal, checks on the baby and family's needs and "tucks" the family in to rest.
Support continues as long as the family needs with a "milk cafe'" (breastfeeding support group), meditation classes, tea gatherings and more.
The center accepts only healthy, low-risk mothers because it does not conduct cesareans and is not set up for emergency treatments, although it is located a few miles from Boulder Community Hospital and has a contract with a medical response team and ambulance, in case things don't go as planned.
About 12 percent of women in labor at birth centers are transferred to a hospital, but fewer than 1 percent of those cases stem from emergencies; most transferred women experience stalled labor or decide they want pain medications, according to Shaunti Meyer, a certified nurse midwife who co-founded the center with two others.
"We're really focused on evidence-based practices, according to the safest practices for mom and baby but in a setting that's comfortable and home-like," Meyer says.
Medical equipment is hidden away, unlike in many hospitals, where the medical table is the focal point of the room.
Boulder's birth center will join nearly 250 others in the nation, a trend that continues to increase, according to the American Association for Birth Centers. The number of birth centers grew 14 percent from 2009 to 2010, and 27 percent from 2010 to 2013.
Still, it's hard to get birth center costs covered by insurance; Meyer says she is currently negotiating with insurance companies to aim for better reimbursement rates for patients.
"But at the same time, it costs less to have a baby here than in a hospital," she says.
The numbers are up front on the website: $7,000 for an all-inclusive package, or you can select specific services. The facility fee (use of the center and staff for office visits, labor, birth and postpartum care, including classes, supplies and more) alone is $3,150.
In the future, Meyers says she hopes to have a nonprofit arm to help low-income moms with the cost.
Space is limited, too. At full capacity, with four midwives, the center will take 32 patients a month.
The three rooms feature full-sized beds and large birthing tubs, which are extra deep to submerge the mother above the abdomen, to help with labor and pain management.
Water birth is a growing demand in Boulder County and beyond, Meyer says, but most commercial tubs aren't deep enough, and Boulder Community Hospital does not allow it.
"I've worked before in a different practice, and almost everybody asked if there was water birth available," Meyer says.
She is part of a national water-birth survey, and water birth is the topic of her current Ph.D. studies.
At Englewood's Mountain Midwifery Center, half of deliveries are done in the water, Meyers says. National numbers are foggier; of the facilities that offer water births, anywhere from 30 and 75 percent of women choose it.
And at Boulder Community Hospital, Meyer says, about 80 percent of women use the tubs for laboring, although they must get out of the tub to deliver.
Wilburn, the Boulder mom, says she delivered her first child in the water and wanted to for her second, but it happened too quickly, before the midwife could set up the tub at her home.
That's one of the major reasons she's drawn to the birth center.
"I felt like the water provided a different level of relief and comfort," she says. "Especially when labor's really intense, the intensity felt different in the water."
But even if her delivery doesn't turn out as planned, Wilburn says she appreciates the options.
"What it boils down to is women and families have the choice to birth where they want to birth," she says. "If you want to birth in the hospital, fantastic. At home, great. And now with nurse midwives at a birth center. They're all great options that serve the different needs of different women."