Give birth to your baby as naturally as possible :
“Birth centers”: this is a “baby” subject still shrouded in a certain mystery in France. Birthing centers are reception facilities and prenatal, perinatal and postnatal care. Special sign ? Poorly medicalized, they are managed by midwives and not by doctors.
They do not leave you indifferent, arousing enthusiasm or mistrust … We take you on a short overview of what birth centers really are.
What good are birth centers ?
What good are birth centers when there are over-equipped maternity units in hospitals and clinics? Precisely to propose a much less medicalized approach. Because the “less” in one area turns out to be the “more” in another: unlike the vast majority of maternity hospitals, birthing centers offer comprehensive support, from the start of pregnancy to the end of the postpartum period.
The particularity is that the reception, the pregnancy follow-up and the childbirth take place within the framework of physiology: the birth centers do not take charge of pathologies, nor so-called high-risk pregnancies and twin pregnancies.
Managed and run exclusively by midwives and not by doctors, birthing centers revive childbirth, conceived above all as an adventure for women and families. Certainly the medical world takes care of births, but… only in the West, and only since the sixties. Birthing centers put this sometimes “technical” parenthesis into perspective to focus on the long-term practice of natural childbirth for thousands of years.
However, there is no question of giving in to the past! While birthing centers are administratively autonomous structures, they transfer the pregnant woman to a partner maternity hospital as soon as a need for medical treatment arises.
In practice : reception in a birth center
In practice, how is the reception in a birth center? The pregnant woman and her partner contact the midwifery team from the start of the pregnancy. Pregnancy follow-up follows the classic steps: ultrasounds, screenings… but by limiting certain unnecessarily intrusive examinations. It is the same midwife who monitors pregnancy, preparation for childbirth, childbirth and finally postpartum. A real plus to feel fully listened to and supported.
The purpose of preparing for childbirth is to empower the woman in relation to medical knowledge, and to allow the other parent to find her place. It’s about listening to your own body, and building self-confidence despite the “unknown” that comes along.
The same atmosphere of privacy and support reigns around the time of the birth itself. Midwives respect the rhythm and position specific to each birth. No epidurals, “timing” or stirrups, but alternative pain management proposals.
A few hours after the birth, the brand new family returns home to three. Indeed, birth centers do not offer accommodation. But home or birth home visits provide follow-up and support for the very first days of life and the first settlements in the life of a young parent.
Birthing centers are conceived as a place that is both protective for the family in the making, and open to the outside world: we promote the profession of midwife, we perpetuate their training, we circulate knowledge and we offer future and young parents, good addresses for associations (parents’ circle, women’s circle, breastfeeding support, PMI, etc.).
What if there isn't a birth center near you?
Are you excited about the idea, but isn’t there a birth center near you? Unfortunately, this is still often the case: there are currently only eight in France. If you are not in your eighth month, there is still hope of being able to give birth in a birth center: the social security financing bill passed in September 2020 provides for twelve more. In addition, the WHO now explicitly calls for caution in over-medicalization.
But what if there is no birthplace within a reasonable distance, neither today nor tomorrow? Let us therefore be inspired by the spirit that governs a birthplace: to help each woman find within herself the capacity to give birth, allow physiological processes to act and welcome the baby gently. In this spirit of promoting natural childbirth, there are several alternatives to medical childbirth.
For example, if the vast majority of midwives today refuse to accompany home births because of out-of-reach insurance, some may offer you a technical platform: a “birth house” bubble (therefore weakly medical treatment and promoting the most natural delivery possible), but inside a traditional hospital.
A natural birth is also a preparation for childbirth: for example, we recommend the approach of haptonomy to take a step aside from purely technical knowledge. Focused on touch, haptonomy gives pride of place to the quality of presence in one’s own body and allows the partner to forge a relationship with the unborn child very early on.
In addition, there are currently 52 maternity hospitals in France with the IHAB (“Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative”) label. The staff there are particularly trained to support the introduction of breastfeeding and the practice of “skin to skin”.
Isn’t there one near you? Do not be discouraged, and take advantage of the visit to the maternity ward at the end of your pregnancy to find out about the existence of a “nature room” (less medicalized, with a large bathtub to experience the labor phase more flexibly) . Even in a traditional hospital and even if this differs by 80% of deliveries in France, if you do not want an epidural, it is perfectly legitimate to stand firm against the medical team.
Ultimately, whether you give birth in a birth center, in an IHAB maternity ward or in a traditional hospital, there are many ways to experience your birth in the most natural way.
The essential ? Reclaim the moment of birth – and, in that moment, the eternity part of co-birth.