More out-of-hospital delivery options offered through 'advanced' birth centers

Lawmakers are considering several bills that would give pregnant women seeking out-of-hospital deliveries more choices, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Despite concerns about safety and potential effects of competition on hospitals, the Senate Health Policy Committee this week unanimously passed a measure by Chairwoman Gayle Harrell, R-Fla., that would authorize "advanced birth centers" and let them offer certain women access to cesarean section deliveries and epidurals. The bill would let these facilities keep the women for up to three days.

When the state initially authorized birth centers, they were created for women who wanted "simple, uncomplicated, low-risk, natural births," Ms. Harrell said.

Birth centers now are prevented from offering women epidurals or performing C-sections, and midwives or certified nurse midwives usually deliver babies.

"This legislation takes the next step and brings birthing centers really up for a lot of women who would really like the opportunity of not delivering in a hospital setting, which can be Petri dishes for all kinds of infections," Ms. Harrell said. "This gives women certainly the next option, a whole new level of experience."

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