Frequently Asked Questions

What is a freestanding birth center?

A freestanding birth center is a home-like facility outside of a hospital that uses a comprehensive approach to support pregnancy and childbirth as a natural, physiologic process within a family-centered environment. Your birth plan is customized based on what you want your experience to be. Your prenatal care, educational classes, labor and childbirth, postpartum and newborn care all take place in this comfortable setting.

What are the advantages of the Birth Center of Denver being owned by Saint Joseph Hospital?

Birth Center of Denver is licensed as a freestanding birth center, separate from Saint Joseph Hospital but incorporated into the SCL Health (now Intermountain) system. One advantage of being a hospital-owned birth center is that we have an entire care team ready to support you depending on the situation, whether it’s at the birth center or at the hospital. In addition, our electronic medical records are integrated into Saint Joseph Hospital, or any other SCL Health provider or facility. If you, or your baby, need to be transferred to Saint Joseph Hospital, all nurse-midwives, physicians and nurses have immediate access to your medical records from Birth Center of Denver. This helps alleviate stress and a disruption in care if a transfer is needed.

While some hospitals refer to a labor and delivery unit within their facility as a birth center, Birth Center of Denver aligns with the philosophy of the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) by providing the natural experience of childbirth in a non-clinical and more cost-effective setting. Our Certified Nurse Midwives also have privileges at Saint Joseph Hospital, so there are several options for your birth if you need to be transferred to a hospital. Your birth center nurse-midwife can follow you to the hospital when possible, or one of her midwife partners or physicians from Saint Joseph can continue your care in the hospital.

Why did Saint Joseph Hospital open a freestanding birth center?

You want the best when it comes to you and your baby during pregnancy, childbirth and beyond. As Colorado’s top baby hospital, Saint Joseph Hospital takes pride in our ability to combine experience and expertise to provide a variety of complete care options. Many families want an experience outside of the hospital for a low-risk and more natural approach to childbirth, and Saint Joseph Hospital wants to meet the growing need for families who are considering a birth center option.

Saint Joseph Hospital is the first to establish a freestanding birth center outside of the hospital setting in Colorado. The advantage of a birth center owned by a hospital is that you can have your birth experience outside of a hospital, but have our birth center staff and the hospital care team ready for any of those unexpected what-ifs that may arise.

Is the Birth Center of Denver accredited?

Yes. Birth Center of Denver is accredited through the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers (CABC). This designation demonstrates our accountability and commitment to providing high-quality maternity care to childbearing families, insurance companies and our community.

How late in my pregnancy can I transfer my care?

We accept transfers up to 32 weeks. We will need to review your records first in order to ensure that you do not have any risk factors for an out of hospital birth center setting.

What are some of the risk factors where I would not be eligible for care at the birth center?

The birth center model is designed for healthy individuals who anticipate a low risk pregnancy and birth, and who desire an unmedicated birth. Certain medical conditions are considered too high risk to give birth in the birth center, including: twins, Vaginal Birth After C-Section (VBAC), hypertension, obesity with a BMI >35 at your initial visit, diabetes (pre-existing or gestational), 5 previous births, blood pressure, certain blood disorders and epilepsy. If you have questions about something in your health history, please call us so that we can discuss your specific situation with our midwives before you make your first appointment.

How many people can I bring to my birth?

You are encouraged to have whatever support team you would like including your partner, doula, family, and even siblings. If you do have siblings that want to be present for the labor and/or birth, we do require that they have their own primary support adult, separate from your primary support person. Children tend to get bored, scared, tired, and hungry throughout labor so someone dedicated to only their needs is necessary. It’s also important to have another adult responsible for your children if you need to transfer to the hospital for a higher level of care due to medical complications that may arise unexpectedly.

What labor comfort options do you offer?

Each room is specially prepared for laboring clients and their families including: Large windows for natural light, adjustable dimming lights, large adjustable bed for comfort positions, birth, postpartum care, and breastfeeding, large tubs for hydrotherapy and for water birth, aromatherapy diffusers and essential oils, himalayan salt lamps, flameless candles, WiFi and bluetooth speakers, birth slings, birth balls, birth stools, massage tools, rebozos and spacious bathrooms including large showers with seats and nitrous oxide. We do not offer epidurals at the birth center.

What if I need to be transferred to a higher level of care during my pregnancy, labor or birth? What if my baby needs to be transferred after birth?

Safety is our number one priority at Birth Center of Denver. There may be situations when clients may need a higher level of care than our birth center can provide. A safety transfer takes place whenever your birth center team feels the hospital setting is a safer place for you and/or your newborn.

Examples of safety transfers during the prenatal period: < 37 or > 42 weeks gestation, breech presentation, hypertension (blood pressures >140/90), abnormal post dates testing, significant 3rd trimester bleeding, rupture of membranes without labor.

Examples of safety transfers during labor/postpartum: Prolonged labor, presence of meconium, desire for epidural, blood pressure concerns, prolonged rupture of membranes, a baby who is not tolerating labor, excessive vaginal bleeding during labor, postpartum hemorrhage, a newborn having difficulty transitioning.

Medical interventions are used only when medically necessary. According to the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) and the National Birth Center Study II, “Expecting families who choose the birth center setting in the U.S. can expect high-quality, family-centered care with a Cesarean rate of approximately 6%. Less than 2% of women who choose the birth center setting will require an urgent transfer for either mother or newborn.”

Do birth centers offer a lower cost for low risk pregnancies?

Yes. National data shows freestanding birth centers typically charge up to 50% less than the charges for an uncomplicated birth in the hospital setting.

Do you take insurance?

Yes. We accept Kaiser, Medicaid, most commercial insurance plans and self-pay. We do not accept TriCare. We know that navigating today’s healthcare systems and billing practices can be challenging. We have contracts with most of the major insurance companies (except Tricare). The best way to confirm if we are in-network with your insurance company is to contact them directly.

What does the billing process look like at the birth center?

Depending on your insurance carrier, some things are included in the global maternity fees, but some things are billed out separately, such as labs, ultrasounds and immunizations, for example. Each client’s pregnancy is unique, and some tests/visits may vary depending on the circumstances. However, the majority of your care will be billed at the time of delivery.

Do you have payment options if I have a high deductible or am self-pay?

Giving birth at Birth Center of Denver is typically less costly than a vaginal birth in a hospital setting, which may be helpful for large deductible plans and self-pay families. We will discuss financial questions or concerns before or during your initial prenatal visit. Our education classes and any optional events and services are out of pocket expenses and are non-billable to insurance. We do have payment options, but require payment in full before the first class. For additional information regarding our relationship with insurance or financial topics, please talk to any Birth Center staff.

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