Austin Area Birthing Center is the oldest and largest birth center in the Austin area. It was founded in 1987 with its first location on Duval Rd, now the North location. They expanded to include a South location in 2011, and just this month have opened a third location in Cedar Park. Each is designed with bed-and-breakfast style, themed birthing rooms, equipped with a large birthing tub, showers, and bed as well as a clinic, family waiting room and classroom space. They have really gone above and beyond to create a space that is comfortable, peaceful, and luxurious but also combines all of the necessary tools for giving birth.
Where AABC really shines though is in the care of its midwives. AABC employs both CNMs(Certified Nurse Midwives) and CPMs (Certified Professional Midwives) and they all work well together as a team without any apparent in-fighting (which is unfortunately not always the case in the birth world). Although each midwife brings a different personality and style, there is consistency in care across the board. Since I birthed both of my two sons there, I can testify to the high level of care that I always received. Midwives spend plenty of time at each appointment listening, answering questions, and providing personalized care. Even in such a large practice, I was surprised that I was always recognized and remembered, even though there were some midwives I did not see as frequently. There is a consistent effort to make sure each client receives is treated warmly, professionally, and individually. I found care there that I had never experienced from any other medical professional. Also for a large staff, I rarely ever had to wait more than a few minutes for appointments, and office staff responded to questions promptly. In the birth, some midwives have a more hands-on approach than others, and some give more direction that others, but birthing mothers are always encouraged to lead the way in how they want to labor. When all goes well, birth is calm and peaceful, and mom is never separated from her baby. In emergencies, (and as a doula I have witnessed this) the midwives are expertly trained and handled the situation with poise and quick skill. And for anyone who is concerned, each location is within a few minutes of a hospital, and all necessary equipment is on hand to handle an emergency (short of a cesarean).
One of the advantages of being with a large practice like AABC is all of the additional classes and community events that are provided for clients. Everything from birth classes, prenatal and postnatal yoga, infant massage, breastfeeding support, and postpartum support groups. There is also a lively on-line community of AABC families. Clients have the option of doing Centering Pregnancy group rather than individual appointments. This fosters a sense of community, and gives much more time for education about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum as well as providing individual time for monitoring mom and baby’s health and progress. On the other hand, a large practice does mean that you will not be able to form the same kind of relationship with a particular midwife as you might at a small birth center or with a home birth midwife. And because they share call, you cannot know in advance who will be at your birth. However, for a large practice, they do an excellent job of creating a sense of community and involvement.
AABC has also recently expanded to include planned hospital births as well as home births, making it the most comprehensive birth center in the area. They CNMs at the birth center have gained admitting privileges at Seton hospitals so that during a transfer, the midwife can still maintain care for the client in the hospital, unless an assisted delivery or cesarean is needed. Since only the CNMs have this privilege, it will only be possible if there is a CNM who is currently available, but this is a huge advantage when it is available. They have also gained a partnership with an OB group out of St. David’s which will allow them additional transfer options. Planned hospital births are also possible for women who want midwife care but prefer to deliver in a hospital. The CPMs have also opened up the option for a home birth as well so that you can access all of the great community assets of AABC but you can have the birth in the peace of your own home if desired. Unfortunately, home birth is not covered by most insurance, whereas AABC accepts most insurance for the birth center births.
All in all, you will find lots of options, a great sense of community, and personal, individualized care at AABC in a really comfortable and beautiful space.
Check them out at www.austinabc.com.