Monday, July 27, 2009

A Tale of Two Birth Centers: Massachusetts and New Hampshire

I belong to a really wonderful and supportive e-network of doulas in Massachusetts. The members provide a wealth of information and a depth of experience from which I am lucky to be learning. Just this week, one of the doulas wrote that she was compiling a list of Birth Centers in Massachusetts and nearby New Hampshire.

A list of Birth Centers in Massachusetts is not hard to compile, as there are all of two, and they are not without their controversies. The Cambridge Birth Center has a high transfer rate to Cambridge Hospital, and The North Shore Birth Center, in order to avoid closure, will comply with remote external fetal monitoring by OB's at the North Shore Hospital on the campus.

But then there's New Hampshire, with its 5 birth centers: The Birth Cottage, The Monadnock Birth Center, The Coastal Family Birth Retreat, The Concord Birth and Wellness Center, and The Longmeadow Farm and Birthing Home. All safe, non-medical, home-like environments that offer the CHOICE to birth at their center or at home! They are all owned and run by midwives, mostly licensed NH midwives and one or two Nurse-Midwives. Each of the websites has legislative updates on the status of midwifery, insurance, and homebirth in New Hampshire. One web site states it so plainly: Almost all insurance plans now cover out-of-hospital birth services with a NH Certified Midwife. It's a sentence that almost strikes me as funny, since it is so far from Massachusetts truth.

As a proponent for choices in childbirth, I have alway philosophically maintained that the 2 Birth Centers we have here in MA offer a middle-of-the-road choice between homebirth and hospital births. But when I hear what is happening just over the border (the MA/NH border, not the US/Canadian border!), I do worry about some of the ways Massachusetts Birth Centers are forced to operate if they are to be in existence at all. Tomorrow, the MA Joint Committee will hear Senate Bill 847, which creates a Massachusetts Board of Midwifery, which would make the practice of midwifery similar to New Hampshire's. Until that bill is passed, the 2 birth centers we do have - operating under the heavy thumb of their affiliated hospitals -- will struggle to maintain choices for pregnant women in Massachusetts.



Laura said...

What about HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster?

MamaMunky said...

I live right on the border of MA/NH and I'm definitely going to be looking into having my baby in NH. Sad that I have to do that with Boston right nearby, but it seems to be the best choice.