The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services study confirms what we have experienced in our practice for many years, but on a national scale – that women who get their care at birth centers experience better outcomes, on average. – Ann McCarthy, CNM, MSN, Clinical Director of The Midwife Center, 01/30/2019

The results of a recent groundbreaking study are in: birth centers are coming out on top!

According to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) study, Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns, individuals with Medicaid who received prenatal care in birth centers like The Midwife Center experienced better birth outcomes compared to the rest of the nation, on average.

Why this study is important

Right now, the U.S. maternity care system is failing our mothers and newborns. We spend more on healthcare than any other country, yet women and newborns experience significant disparities associated with race, poverty, and access to quality care.

  • One in ten births is premature, and Black babies have a higher risk of prematurity
  • Maternity care is one of our nation’s largest healthcare expenditures
  • Preterm birth alone costs over $26 billion per year

Key stats

Researchers collected data on individuals receiving care within enhanced prenatal care models.* The study looked at 8,806 individuals enrolled in Strong Start Birth Centers.**

  • All had Medicaid
  • 10% had a previous preterm birth
  • 33% exhibited symptoms of depression, anxiety, or both

Individuals enrolled in Strong Start Birth Centers experienced better health outcomes, on average, compared to the rest of the nation:

Primary c-section rate is for first baby only (Osterman, 2014). Other US numbers are from 2016 (Martin, 2018). Total c-section rate includes repeat c-sections.

What’s next?

As midwives and birth center professionals, the study confirmed what we already knew – that birth center clients experience better outcomes, and the maternity care system as a whole experiences lower costs. We are thrilled to see this confirmed by the CMS study. We hope that policymakers at the state and national level will work to improve health outcomes by expanding access to birth center care.

We at The Midwife Center were honored to play a significant role in the study. Due to the success of the study, we have continued to provide information and resource counseling to our clients in addition to new and expanded services like behavioral health and wellness.

More information:

– CMS’s “Findings at a glance” (PDF)

– Full findings at CMS.gov

– Original Blog by Ann McCarthy, CNM, MSN

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