Birth Center of NWA: Unique facility is expanding to other states

By Shannon Magsam

Big, white fluffy robe. Check.

Soft white comforter adorned with bird-themed toss pillows. Check.

Large, tiled walk-in shower. Check.

Warmed toilet seats. Check.

HUGE, deep bathtub. CHECK.

Nope, we weren’t checking into a ritzy hotel, we were taking a tour of the Birth Center of Northwest Arkansas — the only accredited, licensed birth center in Arkansas — with some blogger friends. That’s right, all this at a place where you go to have a baby.

Not only does it not look like a normal hospital setting, it doesn’t smell antiseptic like one either. Which is the point. The idea is that you’ll feel more comfortable giving birth while surrounded by a home-like environment. All the medical supplies are there, but are tucked away in a dresser drawer in the birthing suites. {In other words, they have the same sterile instruments, but in a home-like environment.}

And, of course, they have certified nurse midwives and registered nurses who encourage and assist mamas to labor in ways that they are most comfortable – like, say, in the aforementioned huge warm tub – minus being tethered to an IV and a catheter. Look at this cushy birthing suite:

Birth Center, birthing suite

Touring the center, I almost wanted to have another baby just to experience the miracle of childbirth there.

Almost. (I have a teenager, so I’m not sure I want to start over.)

The first baby to be born at the Birth Center, at Village on the Creeks in Rogers, was on May 2 two years ago. The center has been so popular and well received that the owners are expanding into other states. There will be four new birth centers within the next few years in other states.

It really did surprise us how cozy the place was and we peppered the co-founder, Cara Osborne, with questions about the facility and services offered to women at the beginning of the tour. Cara has quite the impressive medical background and is the mom of two kids:

Birth Center, Cara Osborne
Cara Osborne, co-founder of The Birth Center of NWA, visits with bloggers

We also asked lots of questions during the walk-through, tweeting and instagramming our way through the facility. (If you’d like to see all the tweets and IG posts from us and fellow bloggers, search #BirthCenterNWA.)Acorn Disclosure

Since BCNWA is one of our sponsors here on Motherlode, we were very familiar with the facility, but hadn’t had a chance to tour the whole place.

Here’s a sampling of the Q&A we asked at the Birth Center throughout the tour, because we’re betting you probably have some of the same questions that we did:

Who would you consider a great candidate for giving birth at the Birth Center?

birth center, sign
We love this sign that’s in all the Birth Center birthing suites. Sweet.

Co-founder Cara explained that the Birth Center is a low-risk setting, so families are assessed at the beginning of the relationship. Women who want to give birth there can’t have any chronic health issues or develop any issues during the pregnancy.

The Birth Center team has a partnership with the family practice group at Mercy and women who have (or develop) high-risk pregnancies are referred there.

Pregnant women with OB care can be accepted into the Birth Center at 32 weeks gestation and those who haven’t received any OB care can start at the center at no more than 20 weeks.

One of the Birth Center team members said it’s hard to “bucket” the women who come there to have their babies. She said it’s a very diverse group of women, but there’s one common thread among them: they want what’s best for their baby.

Are laboring moms allowed to eat?

Women are encouraged to bring their favorite food and drink to enjoy while in labor and there’s a well-equipped kitchen for everyone to share. There’s also a pretty family room to visit with friends and family who are there to cheer on the mama:

birth center, family room

Do you have to be pregnant to use the services at the birth center?

No, they also offer services like well woman visits (annual exams, etc.), fertility counseling and birth control management.

Here’s one of the rooms for annual exams. It’s certainly prettier than a normal doctor’s office:

Birth Center, annual exam
The Birth Center offers services like annual exams and fertility counseling in addition to birth days.

What if you really, really want to go to a hospital where you could get an epidural while in labor?

Teresa said they make sure to interview women thoroughly about the whole process so they feel pretty confident that unless there was a complication, most women will want to stay and labor without an epidural.

However, she said if a woman really wanted to move to a hospital, they would help her with the transfer to Mercy (just minutes away) and get her settled.

What if a laboring mom feels panicky during childbirth?

Teresa said they do offer nitrous oxide for the mom to breathe (because it doesn’t reach the baby) and that can help keep her calm. They don’t have epidurals at the birth center and Teresa said it’s rare that a mom wants to be transferred to their partner, Mercy Hospital, to have the baby.

She said they have extensive conversations with expectant moms and their families well in advance to make sure they are a good candidate for labor without pain medication.

We love that the birthing suites overlook water and there are trails that families — or laboring mamas — can walk. Pretty view, huh?

Birth Center, view
A serene view for the mamas.

What kinds of classes/baby and pregnancy items do you offer?

The Birth Center has classes ranging from yoga to childbirth education, new mom groups, newborn care and breastfeeding education. Click here for a full list of upcoming classes.

They also have lots of items in their store for new moms. Click here to see some of the products.

Click here to visit the Birth Center website for more information.