Why go to a birthing centre?
Perhaps you are wondering why you should even consider giving birth at a birthing centre. Here are the most important arguments in favour of having your baby at a birthing centre:
- Childbirth is a defining moment that marks the beginning of a new phase in life. With that in mind, it is worth thinking about what is important to you and how and where your child should be born.
- We view pregnancy and birth as healthy life events and your chances of having a natural birth are highest at a birthing centre.
- Natural birth has many advantages for mother and child: fewer complications, improved bonding, higher breastfeeding rates, better processing of the birth and lasting health benefits.
- We guarantee empathetic, expert one-to-one care and you benefit from our midwives’ wealth of experience.
- At the birthing centre, we view you as an independent individual and not as a patient who has to fit into a predefined scheme. We take time to hear your concerns and any fears you may have, and help you to develop a sense of confidence in your own ability to give birth.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends midwife-led models to healthy pregnant women.
In this context, we would like to share a short anecdote: from time to time, the Friends’ Association (Förderverein) advertises the birthing centre to the public with an information stand. When a member of the management board spoke to an interested passer-by about the birthing centre and explained that women deliver their babies here by their own efforts, the lady was horrified. “What, WITHOUT an epidural?!” she exclaimed (see the section on pain relief below for more information).
However amusing her reaction was, it also demonstrates that many women have lost the belief in their own inner strength. An opportunity to (re)discover this strength is one of the most valuable gifts we can give mothers-to-be.
If there is a faith that can move mountains, it is faith in one’s own power.
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Austrian author (1830-1916)
Click here to view the admission criteria for a natural birth at the birthing centre.
Questions about the birthing centre
What is a birthing centre?
A birthing centre is a centre of excellence for pregnancy care, natural birth, postnatal care and breastfeeding led by experienced midwives.
What do midwives do?
Midwives are experts in pregnancy, natural birth, postnatal care and breastfeeding. They perform antenatal check-ups, support women during childbirth and look after them in the postnatal period and beyond (giving advice and assistance with breastfeeding, baby care and recovery). The midwives at the birthing centre also carry out follow-up checks and run both antenatal courses and postnatal exercise courses.
Does the birthing centre offer ultrasound scans?
No, we do not perform ultrasound scans ourselves. However, you need to have had an ultrasound scan to register for natural birth (see admission criteria). This scan can be performed by your gynaecologist or at a hospital.
Are there other birthing centres in Switzerland?
Yes, there are other birthing centres in Switzerland. The canton of Zurich’s other birthing centre is called Geburtshaus Delphys and is located in the city of Zurich.
Questions about safety
Isn’t it dangerous to give birth at a birthing centre?
On the contrary! For healthy pregnant women and their babies, birth at a birthing centre is just as safe – if not safer – than a hospital birth (see the position of the WHO on this matter and the recommendations of the NICE Guidelines). Aside from the professional monitoring of the progress of the birth, the role of time and emotional security in childbirth is just as important as that of medical equipment:
- Mother and child are given the time they need to manage the birth together.
- At the birthing centre, we do not intervene to speed up the birth, but allow it to run its course undisturbed.
- This is reflected in the statistics: a majority of women who give birth at birthing centres do not suffer perineal injuries, and newborn complications are rare.
- One-to-one midwife care is guaranteed throughout the birth, meaning that the mother always has someone by her side to provide empathetic support and expert medical monitoring.
- The caesarean rate at birthing centres is significantly lower (5-8% versus an average of 37% in hospitals; even taking into account the fact that birthing centres do not accept high-risk pregnancies, the caesarean rate is still significantly lower).
It goes without saying that both mother and child are also monitored carefully during the pregnancy. If risk factors become apparent, we enlist the help of specialists from our network.
Is there a doctor on site at a birthing centre?
No. As experts in pregnancy, natural birth and postnatal care, midwives are specifically trained to look after pregnant women and babies and are absolutely competent from a professional perspective. It goes without saying that we also maintain good ties with medical partners in the region, who we enlist for advice and examinations where required.
What happens in the event of complications?
If the admission criteria are not met, the woman will already be referred to a suitable clinic from our network during the pregnancy. Complications are rare in healthy pregnant women (around 85-90% of pregnancies according to the WHO) thanks to the one-to-one care we provide and are identified by our midwives at an early stage.
When is a woman transferred during birth?
In most cases, there are prior indications that a transfer will be necessary. Experienced midwives have a keen sense of the natural course of the birth. Around half of transfers occur on the advice of the midwife and around half at the request of the woman giving birth.
What happens during a transfer?
Sirens and flashing lights are the exception. Almost all transfers take place in the mother’s/father’s private car, accompanied by the midwife in charge of the birth. The most common reason for a transfer is failure to progress, followed by delays in the delivery of the placenta. The closest hospital is eight minutes’ drive away in Wetzikon.
How common are complications?
Complications are rare. For more information on this, please see our statistics page (in German).
Are there doctors who are in favour of giving birth at a birthing centre?
Yes, of course. One such doctor is our doctor of trust Dr Norbert Fetkenheuer and the management of the maternity unit at the Paracelsus Hospital in Richterswil. Numerous scientific studies show that birth outside a clinic under the supervision of midwives is just as safe if not safer than hospital birth. Further advantages:
- Fewer interventions and therefore fewer complications
- Quicker recovery of mother and child
- More positive birth experience for the mother
- Better bonding between the mother/parents and the child
The experts of the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend midwife-led models.
Questions about pain relief
Can I have an epidural at the birthing centre?
No, epidurals are not available at the birthing centre. The midwives primarily use herbal, i.e. homoeopathic, remedies for pain relief. Changes of position during the birth, massages, sympathetic encouragement, compresses and the warm water of the birthing pool are further measures which we have at our disposal to alleviate pain.
The experience of pain during childbirth is significantly affected by the mother’s environment and the body’s own hormones. A protected, undisturbed setting, the sympathetic care of the midwives and the presence of loved ones (i.e. the father, the mother’s own mother or a friend) help the mother to cope with the pain better and enter into a trance state in which she experiences time and space very differently (see Why give birth naturally? for more information on this).
Questions about the birth
Can I choose a certain midwife at the birthing centre?
This is not the usual practice as we work in shifts at the birthing centre. You will get to know many of the midwives during the antenatal check-ups.
Do you use a cardiotocograph (CTG)?
Yes, but only if we have a medical indication for doing so. We check the baby’s heart rate intermittently, i.e. at regular intervals, using something called a foetal Doppler. A cardiotocograph (CTG) unnecessarily restricts the mother’s movement and prevents her from being active during labour and changing positions. In the field of midwifery, it is regarded as proven that CTGs have no effect on the mother and child’s safety.
Do you do episiotomies at the birthing centre?
Only if it appears absolutely necessary from a medical perspective. Since we do not intervene to speed up the birth, the body has sufficient time to stretch and open up properly. Our episiotomy rate has been less than 1% since the beginning. For more information on this, please see our statistics page (in German).
Who examines the newborn?
A midwife examines the newborn directly after the birth. If necessary (if there is a special finding with regard to the child) and at the request of the parents, a paediatrician will come to the birthing centre to re-examine the newborn thoroughly.
Questions about the postnatal period
How should I envisage the postnatal period?
- Loving, sympathetic care in a private room with an en-suite toilet and shower
- Partner welcome at any time (double bed); older siblings are also very welcome to visit
- A midwife is in the building and contactable at all times
- Guidance and advice on breastfeeding and baby care
- Monitoring of the mother’s recovery and the health of the mother and child
- Final consultation when you leave the birthing centre
- On request, final check-up at the birthing centre after six weeks
How long can/must I stay at the birthing centre during the postnatal period?
On average, women stay at the birthing centre for four days after giving birth. When the mother and child are discharged depends on their physical and mental/emotional well-being.
Incidentally, you can also give birth in a hospital and come to the birthing centre for the postnatal period.
What effect does natural birth have on the woman’s ability to enjoy sex?
Again and again, women are led to believe by means of catchy slogans like “save your love channel” that vaginal birth will reduce their ability to enjoy sex. In many cases, such ideas are based on specific sexual value judgements that are made from a male perspective and convey a very one-dimensional understanding of sexuality which states that the tighter the woman’s vagina, the more satisfying sex will be. The pelvic floor and the vagina are indeed loosened both hormonally and mechanically during pregnancy and childbirth, but they can be strengthened effectively during the recovery period. Far more important is the knowledge that a satisfying sex life is about much more than just penetration. Sexuality flourishes where genuine intimacy and rich sensory experiences meet.