Birth Centers Closing

Brenda Lane

Birth centers around the country is being hard hit with slowing business and rising malpractice insurance. What is to become of the free-standing birth centers?

One of the most disturbing trends across the country and beyond has been the closing of many free-standing birth centers. In as few as the last three years, certified nurse-midwives have watched their malpractice rates skyrocket to over 50% increases in their previous coverage.

Some of these drastic increases have forced numerous birth centers to close their doors to expectant parents. In the last 2 years, I have seen 2 free-standing birth centers close, including most recently the Maternity Center in Bethesda, MD, which had a solid reputation in the area as the oldest birth center in the state.

One wonders if fewer and fewer options of birth centers will cause more mothers to seek homebirths. Yet homebirth midwives are also facing difficult times. Most midwives cannot practice without finding a back-up obstetrician to consult or refer their high-risk cases. Rarer still are obstetricians who support homebirth as an equally safe option as hospital births.
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