Birth Options

At The Midwife Center, we offer individualized care during the prenatal period as well as during birth and the postpartum period. We can help you have your baby at either our birth center or at our collaborative hospital.

Birth center birth option

Our midwives and nurses can help you have your baby at our safe, home-like birth center. We have three themed birth suites (Forest, Mountain and Meadow), each with its own large bathroom, tub, and a Queen-sized bed. We also have extra space for family and support people to rest while you’re in labor. If choosing to birth at our birth center, you will be able to:

  • Labor at home until a more active labor pattern is established,
    allowing you to be in your own environment before coming to the center.
  • Eat and drink during labor.
  • Change positions frequently to allow optimal positioning of your baby and maximize comfort during this time.
  • Use our birth swings or birth stools to allow you to labor/push in your desired positions.
  • Labor in our tubs, and if appropriate and desired, plan a water birth.
  • Be “unattached” from unnecessary IVs and continuous electronic fetal monitors, while resting assured that if an IV or IV medication is needed, it can be given at the birth center.
  • The use of different medications for pain control if desired, such as IV pain medication or Nitrous Oxide (an inhaled gas, known as “laughing gas” that helps ease labor pains and anxiety).
  • Be cared for both by certified nurse-midwives as well as registered nurses during your labor and postpartum.
  • Enjoy a homemade breakfast.
  • Receive support for breastfeeding your baby, as needed. Our nurses and midwives encourage babies to latch on their own within the first hour of birth, and can provide more support with breastfeeding if necessary.
  • Once stable and ready for discharge, you and your family are usually on your way home between 4-12 hours after delivery.
  • One to two home visits, depending on your medical needs and insurance coverage, by our registered nurses within the first few days of your baby’s life, to check on you, your baby, and ensure everyone is transitioning well.
  • Postpartum visits at TMC both at two weeks postpartum as well as the standard six-week postpartum visit.

​Water birth at our birth center

Our two new birth suites offer the option of laboring and birthing in water for clients who are eligible. The Meadow and Mountain rooms have free-standing birthing tubs that may be used for laboring in water and birthing in water, and the Forest Room offers a jet Jacuzzi that may be used for laboring in water. The benefits to laboring and birthing in water are:

  • A decrease in episiotomy rates
  • A decrease in 3rd and 4th degree tears
  • Increased maternal satisfaction
  • Possibly shorter labors
  • Possibly less intervention needed to help labor along
  • Possibly less anesthesia

If you are are interested in pursuing a water birth, the midwives can discuss this in detail during your prenatal care.

Learn more about Hydrotherapy from the American College of Nurse-Midwives (PDF)

Read The American Association of Birth Center's position statement on water birth.

Nitrous Oxide and other comfort techniques

We will support the techniques learned in your childbirth classes to help you cope with pain in labor. We also have birth balls, lotions for massage, birth stools, and birth swings in some birth suites available. Most clients get some relief in the tub. Clients who labor in upright positions with the support of family and the TMC team report that labor is far more manageable and empowering.

We are pleased to be one of the few places in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area to offer Nitrous Oxide for pain relief.

Nitrous Oxide is an odorless, tasteless gas-mixed with oxygen. It is widely used in several countries including the UK, Finland, Sweden, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It is inhaled through a mask during contractions and provides a feeling of euphoria that dulls the intensity of the labor pain and reduces anxiety. Clients remain awake and alert, using the gas as needed. There are no negative effects on labor and no risk to baby. One study showed it decreased the length of labor.

Since we began using it in 2016, our midwives report that it is an excellent tool to be used when clients might have otherwise transferred for an epidural. Unfortunately, at this time insurance does not cover Nitrous Oxide. The out-of-pocket cost is between $50-$200 depending on the length of time spent using it. Learn more about Nitrous Oxide.

We also have short acting pain medication available that can be given through an IV or as an injection. It is often given for sleep/rest, but can be useful for pain relief as well.

Hospital birth option

If you have Highmark insurance, please skip to the section below.

Our midwives can help you have your baby at our primary referral hospital, UPMC Mercy. You might birth at the hospital if you do not meet safety criteria for a birth center birth, or if it is your preference to deliver at the hospital. If you're planning a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) with our practice, it will take place in the hospital setting.

Our midwives have privileges at UPMC Mercy, meaning they can care for you there in collaboration with hospital nurses and staff. Our midwives will be your primary care providers and will be in charge of your care. We also work collaboratively with our physician colleagues from Greater Pittsburgh OB/GYN while at UPMC Mercy. They consult with us for any medical concerns while you're pregnant or during labor and delivery, and can co-manage care if needed. For clients who need a cesarean section, the physician group would take a primary care roll in the delivery room.

If you would like to learn more about what having a baby at UPMC Mercy is like, please ask a midwife for more details at your next visit.

For a hospital tour of UPMC Mercy for expectant parents please visit their website.

Hospital birth option for clients with Highmark insurance

The Midwife Center accepts Highmark insurance for all of its services at The Midwife Center, including a birth in our facility. However, our primary referral hospital, UPMC Mercy, is not in-network with Highmark. You may have the option to pay out-of-network rates should you need hospital care (unless you have Highmark Community Blue, which offers no coverage for UPMC hospitals). Please check with your insurance. Our primary referral hospital for clients with Highmark insurance is West Penn Hospital.

What happens if you need hospital care:

  • If you develop a complication during pregnancy and are no longer eligible for a birth center birth, but are still appropriate for midwifery care, you have the option of transferring your care to the Allegheny Women’s Health Midwifery Practice at Jefferson Hospital.
  • While in labor at our birth center, if you develop a routine complication that requires hospital care, though you are still appropriate for midwifery care, you will have the option of a transfer to the Allegheny Women’s Health Midwifery Practice at Jefferson Hospital. You may also choose to transfer to physician care at West Penn Hospital.
  • If you’re in labor at our birth center and need immediate physician care, we will transfer you to physicians at West Penn Hospital.
  • If you would like a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), The Midwife Center does not do VBAC births at the birth center. We recommend you establish care with The Allegheny Women's Health Midwifery Practice at Jefferson Hospital.

We encourage all of our clients who have Highmark insurance to contact West Penn or Jefferson Hospital to schedule a tour of their labor and delivery facilities in the event that they need hospital care. You can schedule a tour by calling 412.578.7030 (West Penn) or 412.330.4469 (Jefferson).



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