About Birth Centres
— Are Birth Centre Services safe?

While it might seem reasonable to assume that the safest place for birth would be a consultant-led maternity hospital/unit, the scientific evidence does not support this belief.

Over the past 20 years a large body of scientific research has accumulated which consistently demonstrates the safety of midwifery-based care provided in Birth Centres for healthy women with a normal pregnancy.

Maternal and infant outcomes (morbidity and mortality) achieved by community-based midwifery care have been shown to be equal to those achieved on traditional labour wards for women of similar low-risk status.

While Birth Centre care is equally as safe as hospital care for healthy mothers and babies, there are important benefits to be achieved from Birth Centre care compared with traditional hospital care.

It is widely recognized that by giving birth in a private, safe and comfortable environment with the care and support of skilled and knowledgeable midwives, it is more likely for women to achieve a positive labour and birth experience with less use of drugs and medical intervention, and higher rates of normal birth and breastfeeding.

Scientific evidence shows that women who use Birth Centre care are more likely:

  • to give birth without the use of drugs for pain relief;
  • to have a straight-forward, spontaneous vaginal birth;
  • to avoid having a cut (episiotomy) or a tear to the perineum; and
  • to have a satisfying birth experience.

Giving birth without the use of epidural means you’re less likely to need medical intervention in childbirth. If you have an epidural, further steps may need to be taken to help you give birth. Epidural increases your risk of needing an assisted birth, using instruments that often involve a tear or bruising to your perineum.

Your capacity to cope with labour and birth is greatly facilitated by having one-to-one support from a midwife. Having this sort of support alone increases your chance of having a normal straightforward birth.

In accordance with the scientific evidence, international policy on maternity care advocates that women must be informed of the safety and benefits of community-based midwifery care and have the choice of Birth Centre care.