What Are the Differences Between a Freestanding Birth Center and a Hospital?


A freestanding birth center is an ideal place for healthy mothers and babies to receive care throughout pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum, and continuing care throughout the lifespan.  At Minnesota Birth Center, we emphasize woman centered care in partnership with Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs).  Our CNMs balance the art of midwifery with modern obstetrical care as well as providing personalized, high quality care with appropriate use of interventions.  The freestanding birth center creates an environment that is safe and empowering as well as being comfortable and homelike.

Birth centers are a perfect location for the midwifery model of care to be practiced.  The midwifery model of care emphasizes continuous care and labor support from a midwife while focusing on the unique emotional, social, spiritual, and physical needs of the pregnant mother and her family.  At the birth center, we celebrate the normalcy of pregnancy and birth in a woman’s life.  We view pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenthood as a significant experience in the life of a family.

Birth centers provide screening for their clients to ensure the mother remains healthy and low-risk during pregnancy.  Birth centers offer extensive education throughout pregnancy to empower women to feel confident making informed decisions about their own and their baby’s health care.  At MBC, the care our CNMs provide is evidence based and we encourage parents to closely research their health care choices.

During labor, interventions that may be standard in the hospital are not routine in the birth center such as routine IV’s, continuous fetal monitoring, routine induction of labor, or epidurals.  The freestanding birth center setting encourages specialized care to each woman’s individual needs and concerns.  At our birth center, we encourage active birth with frequent position changes, hydrotherapy in the tub or shower including water birth, eating and drinking as you like in labor, wearing your own clothes, immediate skin-to-skin contact with your baby, breastfeeding, and a postpartum herbal bath for mother and baby if desired.

We encourage you to contact us to schedule a time to attend our orientation session and tour our beautiful birth center where you will learn even more about freestanding birth centers!

What is a Certified Nurse-Midwife?


Certified Nurse Midwives are Registered Nurses with a master’s degree, and have education in two disciplines: Nursing and Midwifery.  CNMs are board certified, independently licensed, and have prescriptive authority in all 50 states.  They primarily work in clinics, birth centers, hospitals, provide pregnancy and gynecological care from puberty to menopause.  They are able to collect for insurance reimbursement with private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.

Certified Nurse Midwives are experts in understanding the normalcy of birth and recognizing potential complications early.  They collaborate with physicians if complications arise.  They care for women who desire either a natural labor or a medicated labor (including epidurals), and can first assist during a cesarean section.  CNMs provide support during labor, and are open and respectful of birth preferences.  They have similar safety outcomes as obstetricians for mothers and babies, while having low rates of induction, cesarean section, and episiotomies.

What Does A Certified Nurse Midwife Believe?
A Certified Nurse Midwife affirms the power and strength of women and the importance of their health in the well-being of families, communities and nations.  We believe in the basic human rights of all persons, recognizing that women often incur an undue burden of risk when these rights are violated.

Our Midwives believe every person has a right to:

  • Equitable, ethical, accessible quality health care that promotes healing and health
  • Health care that respects human dignity, individuality and diversity among groups
  • Complete and accurate information to make informed health care decisions
  • Self-determination and active participation in health care decisions
  • Involvement of a woman’s designated family members, to the extent desired, in all health care experiences

A Midwife believes in the best model of health care for a woman and her family:

  • Promotes a continuous and compassionate partnership
  • Acknowledges a person’s life experiences and knowledge
  • Includes individualized methods of care and healing guided by the best evidence available
  • Involves therapeutic use of human presence and skillful communication

Our Midwives honor the normalcy of women’s lifecycle events.  We believe in:

  • Watchful waiting and non-intervention in normal processes
  • Appropriate use of interventions and technology for current or potential health problems
  • Consultation, collaboration and referral with other members of the health care team as needed to provide optimal health care

We affirm that midwifery care incorporates these qualities and that women’s health care needs are well-served through midwifery care.

Finally, we value formal education, lifelong individual learning, and the development and application of research to guide ethical and competent midwifery practice. These beliefs and values provide the foundation for commitment to individual and collective leadership at the community, state, national and international level to improve the health of women and their families worldwide.

Choosing a Pregnancy Care Provider in Minnesota

For some women it is the most exciting part of their pregnancy. For others it is the most stressful. Either way, the early on in pregnancy you must make the decision about where will you give birth and who will care for you (be your caregiver). This is the first of a series of blog posts focusing on these questions.

Choosing a Caregiver

Usually the caregiver and the place of birth go hand in hand. However, there are separate considerations for each.

First, there is the decision about seeing a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), an OB/GYN physician, a family doctor, or a Certified Professional Midwife. We recommend this article from Childbirth Connection on the differences between those.

We like to talk about this choice in the context of paradigm we often use: safe, satisfying, Sseamless.


  • Does the caregiver practice in a way that is consistent with the best available research on safe and effective care?
  • Is your caregiver able to properly assess your risks in pregnancy? Evidence shows that over-intervention, especially for low-risk mothers, does not produce ideal outcomes. On the other side, women with more risk factors for pregnancy do require the proper care.


  • Is your caregiver committed to helping you achieve the most satisfying outcome for your pregnancy (which for most women is a spontaneous vaginal delivery)?
  • Does your caregiver make you feel comfortable?
  • Does your caregiver’s philosophy about pregnancy and personal style match your own?


  • Does your caregiver have a plan in place if you want or need to transfer care before or in labor?
  • If you see a group rather than an individual, does that group have unity in mind and demonstrated teamwork so that the care is seamlessly provided by all caregivers?

At the Minnesota Birth Center, we designed our care in order to match all these three ideas.

We believe firmly in evidence-based care, relying on the best research available. The best research available currently shows that low-risk women get the best care and have the best outcomes when cared for by midwives (see the Milbank Report on Evidence-Based Maternity Care). Based on this research we want to ensure the safest birth possible, especially by assessing your potential risks in pregnancy. This is done by our Certified Nurse Midwives and by our medical director is Dr. Steve Calvin, a obstetrician who is a maternal-fetal medicine specialist.

We want you to feel comfortable. Our birth center is homey, clean, and inviting (see photos). Our staff is friendly yet professional. And we are committed to helping you have the most satisfying birth, which is a normal, natural, spontaneous vaginal delivery.

Most pregnancies are normal, but complications do arise. This is not a failure but is actually part of the natural process of pregnancy as well. That’s why we have a built-in process and an established relationship with an OB/GYM group should your situation necessitate additional medical care before or during labor.