September 2023

The week of September 14-20 has been designated Birth Center Week. The week has a focus on “Midwifing Justice” by amplifying the voices of Black, Indigenous, and people of color who lead birth centers. The goal is to grow the collective power of birth centers to provide culturally competent midwife care to all.

As we celebrate Birth Center Week, we want to dive into what culturally competent care really is and what exactly a birth center is, too.

Culturally competent healthcare refers to healthcare services that are provided with an understanding and respect for the cultural beliefs, values, practices, and preferences of patients and their communities. It involves healthcare providers and organizations being sensitive to the diverse backgrounds and needs of their patients, and adapting their care accordingly. This approach aims to reduce healthcare disparities, improve patient outcomes, and enhance patient satisfaction by recognizing and addressing the cultural factors that can impact healthcare experiences and outcomes.

This is especially important during a time like pregnancy and childbirth, where many cultures have special beliefs and practices. Providing culturally competent care is a key goal that the midwifery model of care utilized in birth centers prioritizes.

There are two major “types” of birth centers. Birth centers can either be connected to a hospital system or they can be independent and operate autonomously. The important distinction which must exist to be considered a birth center, is that the facility must be “freestanding” and not located within a hospital, which would then be considered a midwifery maternity ward, not a birth center in the true sense, and unable to qualify for licensing as a birth center in California, per the standards of the American Association of Birth Centers.

A freestanding birth center is completely separate from a hospital and is specifically designed to provide care for low-risk pregnancies and natural childbirth. They are typically staffed by certified nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, and other trained healthcare professionals who specialize in prenatal care, labor and delivery, and postpartum care for women with uncomplicated pregnancies.

Best Start is a freestanding, independent birth center, owned and operated, with no hospital affiliation. We were founded by midwives in response to the over-medicalization of birth in the hospital setting. We regularly collaborate with local hospitals and OBGYNs when our clients need to be referred or transferred, but we are not officially affiliated with any hospital.

To meet the preferences of expectant mothers seeking natural and low-intervention childbirth experiences, some hospitals, in addition to staffing their hospital with certified nurse-midwives, have gone a step further by integrating midwifery maternity wards within hospitals, or including birth centers affiliated with their hospital, staffed by certified nurse-midwives. They often offer services that align with midwifery care principles, such as individualized attention, support for natural labor processes, and a focus on maternal well-being. This approach allows hospitals to cater to a broader range of birthing preferences, from low-intervention births to those requiring advanced medical care.

While hospital affiliated birth centers and midwifery maternity wards typically focus just on pregnancy and birth, freestanding autonomous birth centers often provide more comprehensive care. Many birth centers, like Best Start, also offer well-woman care, emphasizing a holistic approach to women’s health throughout their life stages. This includes routine check-ups, gynecological exams, family planning, and preventive health screenings.

At Best Start, you can receive well-woman care in a comfortable and supportive environment, led by certified nurse-midwives. This continuity of care allows you to build a trusting relationship with your midwives, ensuring that your needs are addressed comprehensively.

As a freestanding birth center, Best Start is nationally accredited and licensed. In fact, we were the first in California! This means that we have met specific standards and criteria established by the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers (CABC). Accreditation is a voluntary process, but it demonstrates a commitment to providing safe and high-quality care. Not all freestanding birth centers are licensed or accredited.

Best Start Birth Center is committed to providing accessible and inclusive care. We understand the importance of affordable healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth. That’s why we are pleased to accept a wide range of insurance plans, including government-funded plans such as TRICARE, VA Triwest, and Medi-Cal.

Our goal is to ensure that every mother has access to high-quality maternity care, regardless of their insurance coverage. We work with various insurance providers to make the birthing experience as smooth and stress-free as possible for you and your family. Your peace of mind is our priority, and we’re here to support you throughout your journey to motherhood

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