Birthing Center or Hospital? More Choices for North Texas Moms

PLANO – Jeannine Watson Tate says she has the best job around. She gets to help moms bring their babies into the world.

“I think I cried the first 10 times,” she said.

The certified nurse-midwife spent years working in the maternity wards, but she recently left the hospital world to deliver babies the way she wants.

“I’m opening the Plano Birthplace, my birth center in Plano, Texas,” Tate said.

Birth centers are a growing medical trend and practice across the country, including North Texas. There are centers in Allen, Richardson and Dallas, but Tate’s will be the first in Plano when it opens in May.

“It feels amazing to realize my dream,” she said.

Birthing centers are state licensed in Texas. The idea is to offer a more natural form of birth. There are no epidurals and the setting is designed to feel more like a spa and less like a medical facility.

“We’re going to hang pictures and decorations; everything has a thought,” Tate said.

The walls at The Plano Birthplace are painted in a calming grey tone. Instead of a hospital bed there’s a four-poster bed where expecting moms can give birth. There are also deep bathtubs where moms can give birth or relax during labor pains.

Claire Dodge is expecting her fourth child any day. She says the birthing center approach makes her feel or at home. Midwifes like Tate work with families from conception to well after birth.

“You create a relationship and you have an autonomy that you may not have other ways,” Dodge said.

Birthing Center advocates say insurance providers covering these services more and more in recent years, something Tate says was unheard of a decade before.

“In the last five years we’ve really seen a big change,” Tate said.

Expert estimate in hospital births can cost between $10,000 and $15,000 while Tate says birthing centers charge between $4,000 and $7,000 for their services. The out-of-pocket cost will vary depending on individual plans.

“We don’t use a lot of the drugs and that always adds that extra cost and in many cases they aren’t needed,” Tate said.

One of the biggest questions moms who choose this route get is “What about the epidural?” Tate says most women don’t need it and their bodies create endorphins to combat the pain and help with the delivery.

“For so many women it’s the fear of the pain that’s worse than the pain itself,” Tate said.

Tate says there’s no right answer when it comes to birth. She just wants women to realize that they have a choice and the power to create life.

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