Before there was “Best Start” there was “Midwife Services” (started in 1981), which was a midwifery practice that was first conceived by four CNMs who formed a group practice and were invited by the administration department of a large San Diego hospital to admit clients to labor and delivery. The hospital administration department was confident that the community would be pleased and supportive to have the option for CNMs to attend their births at the hospital. They happily anticipated the new and expanded use of the labor and delivery unit.
In the 1980s technology had begun introducing new obstetric interventions —continuous electronic fetal monitoring, intrauterine pressure catheters, fetal scalp blood oxygen sampling, and the epidural. As midwives, we were concerned with the fascination of these interventions as their use was being encouraged for all moms, and creating distrust for natural, normal, physiologic childbirth. The obstetricians and anesthesiologists on the labor and delivery unit saw no value in sharing their space with our midwifery practice as our practice resisted the use of new technology for normal pregnancies. Eventually we were pressured to leave.
When this happened, our clientele… our moms… said that rather than lose their midwives they would have their babies at home. Those that lived too far away for a home birth wanted to come to our office for their births. At this juncture, two of our group opted to leave and Janice Aline Hutsell, CNM, and Roberta Frank, CNM, continued to operate Midwife Services, attending births in homes and in the little office that was soon outgrown.
1983 to 1989 found us in a cute little house across from Balboa Park (1,800 SF), one birth room and a room for prenatal visits that often doubled as a second birth room. When life changes took Janice away to Texas, Midwife Services was dissolved and Best Start Birth Center was born, (Incorporated in 1989), under the leadership of Roberta. By 1989 we were as busy as time and space would allow. Needing more space, Best Start Birth Center moved to a larger location at 3343 4th Avenue, 92013. Our 4th street location has seen well over 5,000 babies come into the world over a period nearly 3 decades. Due to a need for additional parking, Best Start relocated in January 2018 to our current single story Spanish style facility located at 3630 Enterprise Street, 92110. We hope to call this home to birthing women and their families for future decades to come.
Best Start Birth Center has matured from a small staff of 3 (2 CNMs and a receptionist) to our current practice consisting of midwives, birth assistants, front and back office staff, billing, and administration. From peg board accounting to computers… paper charts to electronic health records… fee for service to Managed Care to the Affordable Care Act. A common thread throughout all these years which has remained the same is the quality and success of the midwifery model to produce high quality outcomes.
Best Start is the first Nationally Accredited and licensed birth center in the State of California. Best Start has received contracts and agreements with Medi-Cal, TriCare, and many private insurance companies. We have witnessed normal, natural childbirth being “revalued” as consumers and payers alike realize the importance of physiologic birth. Best Start Birth Center has established a record of outcomes that is exemplary. Our moms and their babies do exceptionally well. We are aligned with the Mother Friendly Childbirth Initiative. We work hard to prevent the cesarean section; our c-section rate is approximately 1/10th of the hospital rate. Virtually 100% of our babies are breastfed for extended time periods.
Best Start is proud to be helping preserve knowledge of normal birth in a medical culture that had devalued this knowledge. If it weren’t for midwives working in homes and birth centers, the skills and knowledge and ability to support normal birth would no longer exist here. And we are honored to have a place for women who want normal, natural birth. So…welcome to Best Start Birth Center. We are pleased to offer you a place where you can bring your loved ones to witness and welcome the birth of your new baby… born your way… naturally.