A midwifery led birth center (MLBC) is a health care facility serving women through their life course, utilizing the wellbeing midwifery model of care, in a home like collaborative space, ensuring basic emergency maternal and neonatal level of care at birth. It is integrated within the health care system, aligning level of care to optimal outcome and experience, and responsive to needs of its community.
Physical space/facility: A midwifery led birth center (MLBC) is a health care facility reflecting a home-like, relaxing environment to embody a shared, respectful, collaborative philosophy, advocating for agency for all participants in the process of health.
Population Served for Childbirth: The population served for childbirth includes women considered appropriate for physiological birth.
Level of care available: A MLBC is separate from a higher level hospital facility, meets basic emergency maternal and neonatal standards of care and provides referral for higher level of care if required. A MLBC has the “capability and equipment to provide low-risk maternal care and a readiness at all times to initiate emergency procedures to meet unexpected needs of the woman and newborn within the center, and to facilitate transport when necessary”.
Providers: The MLBC “ensures adequate numbers of qualified professionals to assess, care for, stabilize and transfer women and newborns” as necessary. The standard for a qualified professional is any cadre of skilled birth attendant, usually a midwife, as she is a specialist in the midwifery model of care, as defined by WHO/ICM/FIGO. ,
Model of care: The philosophy of care provided is the relationship based, wellbeing, midwifery model of care and support for women throughout her life course. The midwifery model of care specializes in respectful care, collaboration, low medical intervention and high comfort, supporting physiological processes, reinforced by care dependent on relationships and community, involving time, education, respectful compassionate care and trust.
Program of care: The “program of care” required to do this is the social model of relationship driven care, and can include: antenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum care, childbirth education, support groups, breastfeeding education, nutrition and health education, community outreach, centering pregnancy, newborn, family planning, cancer screening and GYN care to meet a particular community’s needs. Continuous risk assessment is done throughout care to assure the appropriate level is provided. The program of care is committed to the physical health and cultural safety of the woman and family, staff and surrounding community, as demonstrated through standards for safety, healthcare quality and maintenance, and compassionate care.
Community: The birth center is rooted in a woman’s local community, working with women and local health care providers, and is integrated within the larger health care system. Care is community informed for system impact.