options for birth and soothing pain.

exploring your birth choices…

Deciding where to have your baby is a big decision! It can help to start thinking about the things you know you want – or definitely don’t want during childbirth.

The chart below shows the options for giving birth and soothing pain during labor.  Ask yourself which options are most important to you. Then check to see where those options are offered. That may help you decide where you prefer to give birth.

The good news is that Baby+Company can help you plan a safe and joyful birth at our birth center or at the hospital.  And whatever you choose, you’ll have a team of caring, experienced professionals with you all the way.

comfort measures

Options......at the birth center...at the hospital
Birth ball
TENS unit
Hydrotherapy/tub for labor
Nitrous oxideComing soon
Essentials oils (aromatherapy)
Swedish bar
Shower Extra large for 2 or more Standard size
IV pain medication (opioid)Requires transfer to hospital
EpiduralRequires transfer to hospital

birthing position/method

Options......at the birth center...at the hospital
Water birth
Birth stool
Supported squat
BedQueen sizeSingle size, moveable with stirrups

primary birth attendant

Options......at the birth center...at the hospital
Certified Nurse-Midwife

guidelines for your stay

Options......at the birth center...at the hospital
Who can be with you during birth:
- Family and friends Unlimited Number limited
- Kids (with supervision)
- A doula that you hire
Moms can eat during labor
Length of stay after birthUp to 12 hoursAt least 24 hours

labor interventions

Options......at the birth center...at the hospital
IV lineIf neededIf needed
Monitoring baby: non-stop (continuous)
Monitoring baby: at set times (intermittent)
Cesarean birthRequires transfer to hospital


Options......at the birth center...at the hospital
Low-risk pregnancy
Medium-risk or high-risk pregnancy

answers to help you decide

We know you have questions before you decide where to have your baby, so we prepared some answers to common questions about giving birth in our center and in the hospital.

Helping you explore a wide range of possibilities is what we love to do. We’re here when you’re ready to start the conversation.

i’m wondering about…

…labor and birth at the birth center

Who is eligible to give birth at the birth center? (read more)

At the birth center, our midwives take care of women who have a low risk of problems during pregnancy and birth.

How do you know if you are low-risk?

Come talk with us. To assess your risk level, we’ll ask some questions, including:

  • Have you had a cesarean birth?
  • Are you pregnant with one baby, twins, or more?
  • Do you have any health conditions or illnesses?
  • Have you had any serious problems in past pregnancies?
  • What was your weight before you got pregnant?

If your risk level suggests that a hospital birth is best for you, you may still be able to have your prenatal care with us.

Throughout pregnancy, we’re always checking for changes in your level of risk. If problems develop that increase your risk, we’ll help you get the care you need.

But, remember, our prenatal care is about more than watching for problems. We’re all about improving your health and lowering your risk of developing a problem in the first place!

How safe is birth at a birth center? (read more)

Very safe. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has stated it believes “that hospitals and accredited birth centers are the safest settings for birth.”

Baby+Company cares for women with low-risk pregnancies. Research shows that for a woman with low risks, giving birth at a birth center:

  • is as safe as a hospital birth
  • has health benefits for mothers and babies, such as a low chance of having a cesarean birth

Even so, childbirth isn’t 100% predictable. That’s why we’ve built safety into our plans. We’re all set for a quick transfer to Vanderbilt University Medical Center if ever there’s a need. We’ve thought through all the what-ifs, so you can breathe easy and be in the moment.

explore the research behind our care >

What are the possible health benefits of a birth center birth? (read more)

What are the possible health benefits of a birth center birth?

Large studies show that midwife care at birth centers leads to great outcomes. In fact, there are too many health benefits to list here! They include:

  • High chance of having a vaginal birth
  • Low risk of damage to the perineum (area between the vagina and the anus)
  • Low chance of having a cesarean birth
  • Low chance of having an episiotomy (a cut made in the perineum to make the vagina larger for birth)
  • Low chance of infection
  • High chance of a successful start to breastfeeding

explore the research behind our care >

What happens during labor at Baby+Company? (read more)

We follow your lead, tending to your birth as it unfolds over time. That means every labor and birth is a little different. The stories of moms who gave birth with us explain it best. But we’d like to share a bit about what we’ll do to guide you and your partner through a satisfying childbirth experience:

  • Your team will be there with you throughout your entire labor and birth. You’ll already know the midwives and nurses from your prenatal care. So you’ll be with familiar faces in a comfortable, familiar place.
  • We’ll carefully monitor you and your baby. We’re always watchful without getting in your way. For example, we use handheld, wireless Doppler monitors so we can check your baby’s heartbeat at regular intervals whether you’re walking around or sitting in a warm shower.
  • You’ll wear your own clothes. Choosing what you wear (or don’t wear) will help you feel comfortable during labor. Bring a few options in case you change your mind about what feels best. And, we have a cozy robe ready for you to try, too.
  • You’ll be free to move when and how you wish for comfort. We have birth balls, bars, special stools and all kinds of ways to help you find comfortable positions.
  • You’ll eat and drink as you wish. You have to keep your energy up and your body knows what it needs. You’re welcome to bring your favorite foods and store them in our kitchen.

Everything we do, we do to help you feel safe and in control.

How many people can I have with me during labor and birth at Baby+Company? (read more)

As many as you would like! You can make your birth an event for the whole family and friends, too. Or you can be as private as you wish.

And if you want certain people close – but not too close – we have a comfortable waiting room. We even have toys and videos for children.

If you choose to have your kids with you, we’ll give you tips to prepare them for this very special experience. We’re here to support the wellbeing of every member of your growing family.

What are my options for soothing pain during labor and birth? (read more)

Through study and experience, our midwives have mastered the art of providing comfort for labor and birth. The trust you build with your midwife during prenatal care will ease fear and increase your confidence.  That alone is a big part of coping well during labor

With your midwife beside you, simple things like walking, massage, controlled breathing, and other relaxation techniques are very helpful.

The chart below lists other comfort measures we have for you in our birth center and at the hospital.

With such a broad range of options and the freedom to follow your own cues and instincts, almost everyone will find something that works to soothe their pain. We asked women who gave birth with us if they had enough support and comfort to manage their pain, and 96% said they did!

Baby+Company comfort measures

Options......at the birth center...at the hospital
Birth ball
TENS unit
Hydrotherapy/tub for labor
Nitrous oxideComing soon
Essentials oils (aromatherapy)
Swedish bar
Shower Extra large for 2 or more Standard size
IV pain medication (opioid)Requires transfer to hospital
EpiduralRequires transfer to hospital

Can I use a doula? (read more)

Yes, of course!

A doula is trained to provide comfort and support to a woman and her family during labor. We think they’re a wonderful part the birth team.

If you choose to hire a doula, we have a network of doulas that we can introduce you to, or you can introduce us to the one you find on your own. Either way your doula will be warmly welcomed!

When do I have to decide where to give birth? (read more)

We’ll talk to you about which options are safe for you at your very first visit, and you can decide then where you would like to give birth, or take some time to decide. Conversations during group visits, classes, and online resources are all good ways to sort through what’s important to you.

As your pregnancy develops, we’ll keep the conversation going, always considering what’s best for your health and safety. It’s important to keep in mind that only women with a low risk of problems can give birth in our center.

Near the end of your pregnancy, we will help you put together your birth plan. If you want a planned hospital birth you will need to decide that between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. We’ll continue to assess your risk level right up until labor to make sure a birth center birth is safe for you. If there’s a change, we’ll get you the care you need right nearby at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Most women remain low risk and go on to have the birth they’ve hoped for at Baby+Company.

…what happens after a birth at the center

Who checks my baby’s health? (read more)

While you’re savoring your first cuddle with your baby skin-to-skin on your chest, your midwife and nurse will be doing their first check on your baby’s health. But don’t worry. We’re not going to be fussing with your baby the whole time! Your midwife will step back at just the right moment so you can get to know the miraculous little addition to your family.

But we’ll still keep a careful watch over you. And remember, we’re right nearby at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and ready to go if there are signs of a problem.

Before you and your baby go home, the midwife and nurse will:

  • look for signs your baby is ready to breastfeed and help you get started
  • do a full head-to-toe newborn exam
  • do all routine newborn procedures

After you go home, we’ll continue to check your baby’s health and do all appropriate screening tests for the next 2-3 days. If there are any concerns, we’ll work with your pediatric care provider or the neonatal providers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

How long do I stay in the birth center? (read more)

Most families go home between 4 and 6 hours after birth, but some stay up to 12 hours. This may seem like a small amount of time, but baby+company families are ready.

How do we know? Because we asked. In our postpartum Client Experience Survey, more than 99% of our new moms agreed that, “I had the information and support I needed to go home from the birth center and care for myself and my baby.”

Families are ready because they learn a lot about breastfeeding, self-care and safety, and because we stay in touch after you go home and provide close follow-up care.

During pregnancy, you and your partner will learn how to prepare to bring baby home in your Newborn and Breastfeeding classes. During your prenatal visits, you and midwives will make a personalized plan for your postpartum and newborn care.

Before you go home, your nurse and midwife will review what you need to know, and make sure you know how to reach them day or night if you have questions. After you go home, we will check up on you and your baby at your TouchCare video visit and your home visit.

Of course, if you or your baby needs a longer recovery or any closer monitoring after the birth, we will transfer you to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for the rest of your postpartum/newborn stay.

What happens after I go home? (read more)

The next day: We’ll check on you with a video call. We want to see you with that little one.

Two days after birth: Your nurse or midwife will visit you at home. (Families who live outside of our home visiting area will come back to see us at our center.) During this visit, the nurse or midwife will:

  • examine you and your baby
  • complete common newborn screening exams
  • check to see how your baby is nursing
  • find out how all of you are feeling as you go through the big changes during your first days at home

3-7 days after birth: You’ll take your baby for a visit with your pediatrician. We’ll make sure your baby’s health records are all delivered.

6 weeks after birth: You’ll come back to see us for a check-up. We hope you’ll bring your baby, too! And we hope that you’ll continue your care with us so we can continue our connection with you.

You see, after sharing your 40-week journey, we don’t suddenly stop caring about your wellbeing. With our well-woman services we can still be part of your healthy future.

…what if there’s a problem at any time

If I choose a birth center birth and have a complication, what happens? (read more)

Our midwives have the skills and equipment to manage many common problems during labor and birth. They’re also trained to know when hospital care is needed.

If that happens, we call the staff at Vanderbilt University Medical Center so they’re ready for us. Your midwife will go to the hospital with you. In most situations, a private car is the best way to travel the short distance.

What happens at the hospital? (read more)

Your midwife will stay with you until the doctor or hospital midwife has prepared the plan for your care. Then, and only then, your midwife will leave you safely in the trusted hands of the staff at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

How many women transfer from a birth center to a hospital and why? (read more)

In a large study of birth centers in the US, just under 2 out of 100 women or babies (about 2%) transferred from a birth center to a hospital because of an urgent condition. In the vast majority of these cases, the women and babies were just fine.

In the same study, 11 out of 100 women (11%) transferred from a birth center to a hospital for a non-urgent reason, such a stalled labor or wanting an epidural.

explore the research behind our care >

…choosing a hospital birth

If I have a hospital birth, will I have a chance to meet the team that will take care of me during labor? (read more)

The Baby+Co. midwives who you will see for your prenatal care are part of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Faculty Nurse-Midwife Practice. If you choose a hospital birth, we will transfer your care to our hospital-based colleagues by your 36th week of pregnancy so that you have a chance to meet someone from the team that will care for you during labor.

What happens during labor and birth at the hospital? (read more)

When you go into labor, you will call the on-call Vanderbilt midwife. They will discuss your birth plan with you and help you navigate the medical and non-medical interventions that are available to you at the hospital. Once at the hospital, the midwife and nurse will work together to care for you throughout labor.

Can I still have a natural birth at the hospital? (read more)

Absolutely!  Vanderbilt midwives will be by your side and bring the knowledge and ability to coach you through a natural labor in the hospital.  Not every comfort measure that we have in the birth center is available in the hospital but the midwives still have many tools available to help support you to have a successful natural birth. There is strong evidence that one of the most important enablers of a natural birth is continuous one to one care  and the supportive presence of someone who believes in your ability to have a successful natural birth. For this reason, we encourage women to use a doula for labor, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center offers a free volunteer doula program.

Is water birth available? (read more)

At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, women are welcome to labor in the water but are not able to have a water birth.

What does newborn care look like at the hospital? (read more)

The neonatal provider on call at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, or your own pediatric practice, will do an initial newborn exam. Your baby will receive all of their routine tests and procedures before they leave the hospital.

When can my baby and I go home from the hospital? (read more)

For a normal vaginal birth, families generally stay at least 24 hours in the hospital after birth. The hospital stay is at least 2 days after a cesarean birth.

Can I still have my postpartum care at Baby+Company if I have a hospital birth? (read more)

No matter where you give birth, you are always welcome to come back into care at Baby+Company and/or to attend one of our New Mom’s Groups if that is your preference. If you transferred to the hospital in labor, you will see or speak with a Baby+Company midwife before you go home, and make a plan together for your postpartum care.

contact the Nashville center.

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Baby and Company