I-Team looks into how birthing centers and midwives are regulated after deaths of three newborns at Cary location

Friday, March 23, 2018
I-Team looks into how birthing centers and midwives are regulated after deaths of three newborns at Cary location
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The I-Team is looking into how birthing centers are regulated after a birthing center stopped delivering babies.

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The I-Team is looking into how birthing centers and midwives are regulated after a Cary birthing center stopped delivering babies following the deaths of three newborns in the past six months.

But those deaths may not stop the growing trend of working with midwives.

Austin and Liayn McCall chose to deliver their first baby at the Women's Birth & Wellness Center in Chapel Hill, an independent birthing center complete with three labor suites that look more like home.

Birthing centers pride themselves in their personal care through midwifery, while hospitals boast the doctors and expansive nursing staff.

Birthing centers also promote natural birth, whereas the hospital provides epidurals and is prepared for emergencies.

All members of the family can be there in a birth center delivery room, and that's not the case in a hospital.

Over the last three years, the number of hospital births remained steady in North Carolina. But birthing center numbers have almost doubled.

"You want everything to go smoothly and exactly how you want it to go," said Liayn. "Having that support and that connection with these people that you care about and know on a personal level definitely makes a difference."

Statistically, the vast majority of birthing centers deliver safely, but, after the recent deaths at the Baby + Co. Cary location, there are fresh concerns about the process.

In a statement to ABC11, a spokesperson said every loss is tragic and they are grieving alongside the families involved. Unfortunately, they say, complications can happen in any environment.

Baby + Co. has locations throughout the U.S. and two more in North Carolina. In all of NC, there are only seven birthing centers. All of them have an accreditation but they don't have any state licensing. That's because there's no such thing.

Midwives at the Women's Birth & Wellness Center say the national accreditation involves a visit and review once every three years. The midwives, though, must meet strict standards, including earning a Master's Degree in nursing.

"During midwifery school, we join nurse practitioner colleagues and we do courses on pharmacology, health assessment, pathophysiology, and then we get more and more specialized as training goes on," said midwife Sarah Dumas.

Birthing centers in NC also maintain relationships with nearby hospitals in case of emergency.

Read the full statement from Baby + Co here:

We have not closed and are still seeing clients and supporting birth at the hospital. We have put a temporary pause on birth center births, at our own election, while we complete a review of a set of difficult cases that we have experienced recently. We conduct reviews in every case. We expect to resume births at the center shortly.

We have had supported 3,800 pregnancies across our centers since October 2014 and the vast majority have been without complication. We have had 5 newborn losses during that time period across all of our centers.

In Cary we have supported 1,200 pregnancies and experienced 4 losses since October 2014, including three losses since January 2017.

In addition to existing safety protocols, Baby+Co. conducts a thorough review along with hospital partners in each and every case. We are now doing a comprehensive review across cases.

Every loss is tragic and we are grieving alongside the families involved in these cases. Unfortunately, complications can happen in any environment. We have full confidence in our model of care and the outcomes we deliver across all of our centers.

We founded Baby+Co. because women and families in our communities deserve better maternity care outcomes. The United States rank 74th in terms of maternal mortality; 54th in terms of pre-term birth and has the highest infant mortality rate among all OECD countries.

Baby+Co. offers a low-intervention care model for women with low-risk pregnancies that is not only safe, with mortality rates across our network that are half of what they are among similar populations in hospital settings, but with better outcomes across every major category. That includes lower c-section rates; lower pre-term birth rates and a range of other benefits that impact the short and long term health of mom and baby.

Baby+Co. has supported over 3,800 pregnancies across the network and the vast majority have been without complication. We have unfortunately experienced five losses across the centers over three and a half years, with three recently in Cary. Every loss is difficult and the clustering of recent incidents in Cary has caused us to temporarily divert to the hospital while we conduct our quality review. But we remain very confident in our proven model, the quality of care we provide and our team of nurse midwives who have delivered tens of thousands of babies.

We expect to resume offering births at our Cary center very soon.