What is a birth center?
As defined in Minnesota, a birth center is a facility licensed for the primary purpose of performing low-risk deliveries that is NOT a hospital or part of a hospital. Births are planned to occur away from the mother's usual residence following a low-risk pregnancy. -Minnesota Statute 144.615
In Minnesota, freestanding birth centers must be licensed by the state. To be eligible for a license, a birth center must be accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers (CABC).
It can be confusing that many hospitals erroneously call their labor and delivery a "Birth Center." There are a handful of licensed birth centers in Minnesota. River Valley Birth Center is the only one located in Southern Minnesota.
For more information on birth centers, please visit the American Association of Birth Centers.
Who can use a birth center?
We serve families who are experiencing low-risk pregnancies! The great news is that most pregnancies are low-risk!
Some examples of health conditions that would be considered high-risk and not appropriate for out-of-hospital birth include:
Bleeding and clotting disorders
Current drug or alcohol use or addiction
Hepatitis B or C or HIV
Gestational diabetes that requires medication
Multiple gestation pregnancy (twins or more)
This list is not exhaustive and if you are uncertain if you meet the health criteria for care, please contact us for more information.
Midwives in birth centers specialize in normal birth. If someone is experiencing a high-risk pregnancy then the hospital would be the most appropriate location for their birth. We will assess health and wellness at each prenatal appointment so that we can help a family navigate the safest location for their care.
What are your COVID-19 policies?
Since the spring of 2020, this has been one of the most frequently asked questions. Our policies meet the recommendations for health care facilities while still allowing flexibility to meet the individual needs of each unique family. You can read the most updated version here: COVID-19
Is it safe?
Yes! Birthing at a freestanding birth center is safe for low-risk pregnancies!
Birth centers follow guidelines that keep safety the top priority. You don't have to take our word for it: National Birth Center Study II
Who provides the care and attends the birth?
You will get to know our small team during your prenatal care. Our midwives will provide your care prenatally and will also provide the care at your birth. The birth team will be made up of a midwife as the primary attendant and either a birth assistant or another midwife acting as the assistant.
Some birth centers are "open model" birth centers that grant privileges to outside providers to attend births in the facility, but River Valley Birth Center is a "closed model" birth center, which means it is only our team who attend births here.
Who can I have with me for the birth? Can I have a doula? What about a photographer?
We welcome doulas and photographers!
Our general rule of thumb for the size of the labor support team is that they must be able to fit in the birth room without impeding the ability of people to move about. You may not be able to fit an entire marching band in the room, but we are easily able to accommodate the vast majority of labor support teams!
A relaxed and calm atmosphere is one of the biggest benefits of using a birth center. We can help you decide during the course of your pregnancy on what the right balance of privacy and support may look like for you.
What about comfort measures for labor and birth?
We start with a comfortable and relaxed environment! Lights are kept dim, the people providing your care are familiar and supportive, movement is expected, and eating and drinking is encouraged. We are happy to provide suggestions, but primarily we simply support a birthing person in laboring in a way that works best for them. We have speakers available so that you can listen to music, prayer, meditations, hypnosis tracks, or calming sounds such as rain drops or wind chimes... whatever feels right to you. We also have aromatherapy available.
Hydrotherapy can be used for labor and birth. A hot shower can be amazing during labor! We also have tubs available for laboring in as well as birthing in. Water birth can be a fantastic option to have! More information on waterbirth can be found here Evidence Based Birth: Waterbirth
We also have nitrous oxide (laughing gas) available for pain relief, should it be desired. For more information on nitrous oxide check out Evidence Based Birth: Nitrous Oxide During Labor
How long do we stay at the birth center after the birth? What happens during that time?
After your baby is born, we will encourage rest and skin-to-skin bonding. Your baby will not be taken to a nursery. We will assess your health and monitor your baby while you are together. Most of our families choose to breastfeed and the first few hours after birth is the perfect time to get started with that! After about 1-2 hours we will perform a full newborn examination and together we will find out your baby's measurements and weight. We monitor maternal bleeding and vitals in those first few hours in the least obtrusive ways possible so that the environment still feels calm, safe, and relaxed. After a few hours of stable vitals we can help you get ready to head home! We find that most parents feel ready to get home to their own bed fairly quickly and an average postpartum stay is about 3-4 hours.
What would be considered "early discharge" in a hospital is considered the norm for freestanding birth centers! Instead of requiring newborns to stay for a full 24 hours to complete the Minnesota Newborn Screenings (babies must be 24 hours of age to complete), we simply schedule a follow-up visit.
Does insurance cover River Valley Birth Center?
We are in-network with most insurance companies!
You should check with your insurance company about any plan-specific requirements or exclusions. We have a verification of benefits form that can help you ask questions of your plan so you understand your coverage.
Medical Assistance/Medicaid and Minnesota Care cover freestanding birth centers.
If we are in-network with your health insurance there will be discounts applied to the overall cost of your care, as negotiated with your health insurer. Your deductible and/or co-insurance will apply to the discounted rate.
Many families have health insurance and then also have Medicaid as a secondary insurance. In these cases the individual will not have to meet their deductible or co-insurance of their primary insurance plan. We encourage families to explore what their insurance covers as well as what services they are eligible for.
Note: While we are in-network with most insurance companies for care provided at the birth center, most plans/companies exclude homebirth as a covered service. If you are choosing homebirth with our team, you will be expected to pay out-of-pocket for that care.
I don't have health insurance. What are my options?
If you will be self-pay for care, we can provide you with an early-pay discount if you pay a bundled fee in advance. If you utilize a health share rather than health insurance, we can provide you with an invoice to submit to your health share to start the process.
If you are applying for medical assistance, please let us know that you are "medicaid pending" rather than "self pay."
What about homebirth?
We do attend homebirths as well as births in the birth center. We take a limited number of homebirths, dependent on our overall client volume and staffing availability. As noted above, families selecting homebirth should anticipate paying out-of-pocket for that portion of care unless your plan specifically states in policy that they will cover homebirths.
The care we provide prenatally and postpartum are the same if you are planning a homebirth or birth center birth. If you are having a homebirth with us, one difference is that we will provide you with some supplies at about 36 weeks of pregnancy to have ready at your home for when labor starts. We also do have an inflatable birth pool you may borrow if you would like to have a waterbirth at home.
What if my labor is going quickly? Can I just call you to my home even if I wasn't planning for a homebirth?
We get asked this A LOT. We will only attend a homebirth if that was the planned and agreed to location for the birth. If we are not anticipating the birth to take place in a home, packing supplies and equipment takes a good amount of time. The additional time required for us to pack, print records, and drive to a birth in a location we were not intending to be at would increase the chances dramatically of the birth happening without any assistance for the birth and immediate postpartum time. We encourage families to communicate with us throughout early labor so that we can decide together a good time for you to come to the birth center that takes into account your birth history and distance from our location.
Sometimes people ask about having a "sort-of-accidental" homebirth because their insurance plan excludes homebirth and they are hoping to find a loophole. If your insurance has an exclusion for homebirth, they will also refuse to cover our care at an unplanned homebirth.
If you have your heart set on birthing in your own home, we encourage you to bring it up early in your pregnancy! If we have a homebirth slot available on our roster, we can all work together to plan your birth in the location you desire. If it isn't going to work to plan a homebirth due to lack of insurance coverage or other factors, we can still have an amazing experience in the birth center, which can be your home-away-from-home for this special day.
How can I start care or transfer my care to RVBC? Is there a deadline?
We encourage people to explore their birth options. We have some clients who contact us as soon as they know they are pregnant and others may start to consider a birth center a little later on in the pregnancy.
To start care at the beginning of your pregnancy
The first step to starting care with us is to sign up for an orientation session. In this virtual information session, you will learn about the care we provide. There is no cost for an orientation and we offer them twice a month. If you decide to sign up for care after the orientation, we will book you for your initial prenatal visit.
To transfer into our care during pregnancy
If you have already started care for your pregnancy elsewhere and would like to transfer into our care, it is a fairly simple process. We still require attendance at an orientation session. If you are later on in your pregnancy, you may want to first check in with us to see if we have any openings in our calendar for when you are due. After completing an orientation session, we will need all of your prenatal records to review and evaluate and we will need to complete a first visit before you are officially accepted into our care.
Because we do not accept transfers of care after 36 weeks of pregnancy, it is wise to schedule an orientation as soon as you experience any curiosity about the care we offer. If you have questions or extenuating circumstances, please call us to discuss your options.
Records should be faxed to us at: 507-934-2327.
Deadline to decide
This is a question that comes up sometimes after an orientation, a person wants to know how long they have to make a decision. From where we sit, there is really little to no value in waiting to switch care until the last possible moment. A large part of what makes this care great is the relationships we establish. Delays in establishing care can mean missed opportunities to better know your birth team. The longer we provide care for an individual, the more opportunities we have to help them feel fully prepared for their upcoming birth.
Occasionally, someone might be waiting for to see if a health issue resolves before transferring care. If this applies to you, we would still recommend scheduling an orientation session and communicating with us about the current situation so that we can create a flexible game plan together for how to best proceed.