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Nurse Midwifery and Birth Center FAQ

For questions about billing and insurance, please see Pregnancy Billing and Insurance.

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Do the nurse-midwives only attend births in the Birth Center?

No, the UC San Diego nurse-midwives attend births in both the Birth Center (4th floor) and our traditional Labor & Delivery suites (2nd floor). Physicians attend births only in Labor & Delivery.

Does the nurse-midwife I see for my prenatal care always attend my birth?

There is always a nurse-midwife available in the hospital, 24 hours a day. This may or may not be the nurse-midwife you have been seeing for your prenatal care. All of the nurse-midwives provide excellent care with the same philosophy. We encourage you to attend our Meet the Midwives program so that you have an opportunity to get to know more of us.

Can I give birth in the Birth Center if I've had a C-section in the past?

No, due to the increased monitoring required to ensure the health of you and your baby, it's safest for you to give birth in Labor & Delivery. The nurse-midwives will still provide your care and work with you to have the birthing experience you want.

Can I have pain medicine in the Birth Center?

Yes, the nurse-midwives can order pain medications for you in the Birth Center. Generally these are given as an injection (shot) or through an IV. You also can use hydrotherapy, birthing balls, birthing stools, massage, walking and breathing techniques for pain management. Epidurals are not given in the Birth Center because they require increased monitoring of you and your baby.

I know I want an epidural. Can I still see a midwife for prenatal care and childbirth?

Absolutely! The nurse-midwives support your choices, whether that is an epidural or a non-medicated birth. If you choose epidural anesthesia, you will give birth in Labor & Delivery with the nurse-midwife providing your care. After a short recovery time you and your baby will be transferred to Family Maternity Care Center, and the nurse-midwives will continue to care for you until your discharge home.

What is different about prenatal care with a midwife? Will I still have prenatal testing and ultrasounds?

Patients who see a nurse-midwife for prenatal care are offered the same prenatal testing and have the same ultrasound schedule as patients who see OB/GYNs or family medicine physicians. Our nurse-midwives believe in offering personal, education-focused care, with an emphasis on giving women empowering choices that help them be more involved in their own birth experience.

I want a natural birth and am concerned that this won't happen if I'm in a hospital setting. Can you reassure me?

We understand your wish to give birth without interventions and will do our best to help you in that goal. We will listen to your requests and act as partners in your care. However, there are times when birth does not according to plan, and part of our job is to guide you down this path, making recommendations for the wise and respectful use of interventions. We have an excellent working relationship with our obstetric colleagues, and they will work closely with us should we need to consult with them or involve them in your care.

Why would I be transferred to Labor & Delivery from the Birth Center?

There are a variety of medical reasons for a transfer, most involving the need for increased monitoring for you and your baby. Please see Birth Center Eligibility for a complete list. We will involve you and your partner in decision making throughout your labor, including transfer to Labor & Delivery.

If I transfer to Labor & Delivery, will the midwife still attend my birth?

Yes, the nurse-midwife remains the primary care provider during most transfers to Labor & Delivery and continues to care for you until you are discharged from the hospital. If the need for a C-section arises, or other complications occur, then a physician will manage your care and the midwife will provide support throughout your hospital stay. From Labor & Delivery you will be transferred to Family Maternity Care Center, not back to the Birth Center.

Can I have a water birth?

No, not at this time. We are working very hard at making this an option at the Birth Center. You can labor in our tubs in the Birth Center, and many women find this extremely helpful. There are no tubs in Labor & Delivery.

What is a doula? How can I request one?

A doula is a trained volunteer that provides continuous, one-on-one physical, emotional, and informational support to a woman during labor and birth. She provides no medical or nursing care. Since she doesn’t have these responsibilities, or other patients to attend to, she can give her complete attention to being by a woman’s side for the entire length of her labor. Doula care is known to decrease the length of labor, the need for pain medication and reduce the rate of episiotomy and C-section deliveries. You may hire a private doula, who may offer additional services (prenatal visits, after-delivery visits at home) or you may request a doula from our Hearts and Hands Volunteer Doula Program. Ask your midwife for more information.

Are there any limits on who can be with me during labor?

This is your choice. Partners, children, parents, siblings and doulas are all welcome. We encourage you to choose people that will support you and your choices during labor. Please understand that we do NOT provide childcare at the Birth Center. All younger children must have a responsible adult to care for them. And please, no pets.

Is there a time when all the Birth Center rooms are full and unavailable?

This is extremely rare, but if it does happen, you will go to Labor & Delivery, and be cared for by nurse-midwives. We do our best to create a Birth Center atmosphere and give you as many of the Birth Center options as possible. There are no tubs in Labor & Delivery, but there is a shower available. After giving birth, and a short recovery time, you and your baby will be transferred to the Family Maternity Care Center. The nurse-midwives will continue to care for you until your discharge home.

Is there an age restriction for mothers who request the Birth Center?

No, you may deliver in the Birth Center regardless of your age. This includes mothers who are 35 and older.

Is there any other reason I would not be eligible for the Birth Center?

The Birth Center is for healthy women who are having low-risk, uncomplicated pregnancies. Most women are eligible, but there are certain medical conditions that require giving birth in Labor & Delivery. Please see Birth Center Eligibility for a complete list, and discuss your medical history with your midwife. If you would like to transfer your care to the Nurse Midwifery Service, call 619-543-3863 for more information.

Will I get help with breastfeeding if I deliver in the Birth Center?

Yes, all postpartum patients have access to our dedicated lactation consultants, who are available seven days a week. See Lactation Service for more information.