What is a Birth Center?

A birth center is a home-like facility, in which the women may receive family-centered care before, during, and after their childbirth.

In the state of Minnesota birth centers must be licensed by the Department of Health. One thing that can be confusing is that many hospitals will call their labor and delivery area a “Birth Center” because it has such a nice sound to it, but the state of Minnesota is quite specific that licensed birth centers are NOT part of a hospital. You can read about that here: 144.615 

River Valley Birth Center was the first licensed birth center in southern Minnesota and remains the only licensed birth center in southern Minnesota.

Who can be seen at the Birth Center?

Giving birth at a birth center is appropriate for low-risk women. Women are carefully screened throughout their pregnancy to ensure that they remain healthy. If a woman were to develop serious health complications during pregnancy, she would be referred to an OB/GYN for continued care.

Women are also encouraged to be seen at the birth center for routine prenatal care, regardless of where they plan to give birth. All low-risk women can benefit from midwifery care. Our appointments are a length that allows for true informed consent. We offer a relaxed atmosphere that allows for families to feel comfortable participating in their healthcare choices. Should a woman wish to see us for only prenatal care, at 36 weeks we can transfer her care to the practice of her choosing with full records and labs, so the transition would be quite smooth.

Breeches? Twins? VBACs?

Many studies have shown the increase in risks involved with babies in the breech position and with twins. Due to this, River Valley Birth Center does not do planned breech births or twins at our facility. Should your baby be in a breech position during the end of pregnancy, we will work to encourage the baby to turn into a vertex position.

VBACs are provided only on a case-by-case basis. Safety is our top priority and so very specific criteria must be met in order to be considered a candidate for a vaginal birth after a prior c-section. Some of the criteria includes: c-section was a low transverse incision, no post-operative infections, only 1 prior c-section, surgery was done for a reason that is unlikely to reoccur (breech, fetal distress, fetal anomalies, etc), at least 18 months from surgery to current due date,  at least 1 previous vaginal birth, and surgical records must be provided to the midwives to review. It is important for women to be very well informed as to the risks of VBACs (we assume you know the benefits if you are asking about VBAC to begin with). It is also important to understand how one’s own health may impact the chances of having a vaginal birth as well as the chances for a uterine rupture. We will also discuss with you the local politics involved in choosing a vaginal birth after c-section. Should we decide a woman is not an appropriate candidate for an OOH VBAC or should the woman decide she would be safer in the hospital for a VBAC, we will provide a woman with referrals to other practitioners.

We also provide prenatal care for women who are planning to VBAC in a hospital with a supportive practitioner, should it be too far of a drive to see that practitioner for all of the routine visits of prenatal care. We will happily arrange to send records to the VBAC provider at 36 weeks of pregnancy and transfer the care completely at that time. This can be a great option for a woman who is an excellent candidate for a VBAC, but would either prefer to not have an out-of-hospital VBAC or for women who do not meet our risk criteria fully, but are otherwise experiencing a low-risk pregnancy.

What about prenatal care? Labs? Ultrasounds?

We provide full-scope prenatal care at the birth center! We offer prenatals on the typical schedule: every 4 weeks until 32 weeks of pregnancy, every 2 weeks from 32-36 weeks of pregnancy, and then weekly until your baby is born. Should labs or ultrasounds be needed, we will make arrangements for those to be done as well. Any tests that you may desire will still be available to you.

Should complications develop during the prenatal time period, we will provide a referral in to a provider who is best equipped to handle your individual situation.

Is it safe?

Yes. For low-risk women freestanding birth centers can be a safe choice for a location to give birth! A recent study done by the American Association for Birth Centers shows that the use of midwives and birth centers can improve outcomes while reducing costs! Read about that study here.

Even The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) has recognized that freestanding birth centers have a place in maternity care, you can read their Levels of Maternity Care Consensus Statement.

How long do I stay at the Birth Center after my baby is born?

Usually, the stay in a birth center is quite short! Most women will rest at a birth center for a few hours (2-3 is typical) and then head to their own home to finish recovering. Both mom and baby will need to be in good health before leaving the center. We will also complete a comprehensive newborn examination and give thorough postpartum instructions before discharge from the center.

A midwife will provide a visit to your home 24-48 hours after the birth and is available on-call during the days following discharge from the birth center, should you need additional care. Office visits are scheduled at 1 week, 2 weeks, and 4 weeks after the birth.

Who can have I have at the birth?

We recommend limiting the number of guests that you bring with to the birth center to just those support people who will be in the room with you at the time of birth.

If you would like your other children present for the birth, you must also bring an additional caretaker for the children (not your partner). The midwives and birth assistants are unable to help with childcare. It is also important to realize that we may have childbirth education classes or other appointments during your birth, so your children may not have as much space to stretch out during a labor. It is good to have many plans for things they can do and places they can go should labor be long.

How much does it cost?

The actual cost for care is what we will bill your insurance company. We have a full fee schedule available for clients and potential clients to view in the office. Keep in mind that the full fee cannot be determined prior to care as we do not know what tests and procedures each person will need to utilize in advance, so we make our best estimates. You will only be charged for services provided and these services are generally 40-60% less expensive than similar services provided in the hospital setting.

You can expect to have the out-of-pocket expenses of your co-insurance and deductibles regardless of location of birth: home, birth center, or hospital.

We do bill health insurance for care. We are in-network with most commercial insurance plans. We recommend that you call your insurance company so that you understand what your plan will or will not cover for your care. We can provide you with a verification of benefits form to help you with the questions you need to ask.

Do you accept my insurance?

We will bill your insurance for care provided. We will also be able to let you know if we are in-network or out-of-network with your insurance company. This will impact how your insurance covers your care.

River Valley Birth Center is in network with the following insurance companies: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medica, LaborCare/SelectCare, South Country Health Alliance, UCare, UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, PreferredOne, HealthPartners (their PMAP plans only), and Minnesota Medical Assistance. Some additional companies use these networks for their plans as well, so be sure to call your insurance to ask if we are in their network!

Other companies can be billed at the out-of-network rates or you can request an in-network exception from your company.Keep in mind that since our services are charged at a lower rate than hospital care to begin with, even if your care is only covered at the out-of-network rates that we still may end up being a more affordable option.

We are sorry to say that we are unable to take TRICARE at this time. They will not cover CPMs as providers, even though they will cover birth centers. This does pain us as we are a Veteran-owned business, but there is no current workaround to this situation.

How do we find out more information?

Contact us! You can register for a group tour/orientation session to find out more information, but we also welcome phone calls and emails! 507-934-1565 or midwives@rivervalleybirthcenter.com

Keep in mind that we are a small practice without a receptionist. Should you reach our machine, please leave a message and we will return your call between appointments!