In a Birth Center's AABC Strong Start program, support and care during pregnancy is provided by midwives and peer counselors.
A midwife, usually a woman, is schooled in nursing and midwifery. A midwife is trained to provide care to women during pregnancy and childbirth. Some also practice general well-women care, such as annual GYN exams, pre-pregnancy care, and family planning. A midwife differs from an obstetrician, who is a medical doctor specializing in pregnancies and deliveries. A Birth Center refers its clients to medical doctors and hospitals when needs arise.
The midwives will get to know you during your pregnancy. You will feel comfortable asking them questions and they will take the time to listen to you during your visits. Midwifery care has been shown to:
- Lower rates of neonatal mortality
- Lower risk of low-birth weight
- Lower risk of infant mortality
- Lower use of interventions
- Increase rates of prenatal education on wellness and health
- Reduce use of pain medication and epidural anesthesia
- Lower cesarean sections
- Increase breastfeeding rates
- Help women feel in-control during labor
- Help women have a "supportive relationship" with their provider
When you get prenatal care in a Strong Start birth center, you will have the extra support of a peer counselor. A peer counselor is someone who has training in healthy pregnancy. She is good at listening to your needs and helping you find the answers you need. She can find extra resources for you if you need them, such as food, housing, or counseling. She will assist you with ways to handle things like your daily activities, your work routine, your home life, your eating habits, and more. Your peer counselor will work with you and your midwife to make sure you have everything you need during pregnancy.