Making the Decision
The Beginning of a Beautiful Relationship
When the owner, certified nurse-midwife Aszani Kunkler, called to introduce herself to me, I was immediately impressed with her warmth and knowledge. She asked about my past births and current pregnancy. Because birth centers are for low-risk women, she would have been unable to accept me as a client if I'd had a complicated pregnancy or previous c-section.
A week later, my husband, Marc, and I met Aszani in person and toured the center. We asked lots of questions: I was concerned about the kind of labor support I'd receive, and my husband, naturally, was concerned about the bottom line.
Unlike hospitals, the birth center charges one set fee that covers:
- all prenatal care and classes
- the birth itself
- newborn care
- follow-up visits
Typically the overall cost is about 50 percent less than a hospital birth. Some insurance companies cover birth-center care; others don't.
She also outlined the center's program of care. Prenatal visits last an hour and include personalized education. Marc and I needed to take a complications class as well as an early home care class, where we'd learn skills such as how to check both Mom's and baby's vital signs and when to call the midwife.
On delivery day, two midwives would support me throughout labor and birth. And after he made his appearance, my baby would rest in the arms of his new family. When everyone was stable, the family would go home, usually not more than 12 hours after birth -- and I'd receive a home visit from a midwife at 24 and 36 hours after birth to perform newborn screenings and offer support, be it emotional or physical.