DC-area birth centers closing their doors

Facing climbing malpractice premiums, lower insurance payments and competition from increasingly cozy hospital maternity services, midwives and birthing centers have begun closing across the DC metro. Over the past 10 years, eight DC-area birth centers and midwifery practices have closed. The owners say that they can ill-afford the continual increase in malpractice rates, given that their profit margins are slimmer than most hospitals and medical practices. (Some centers have seen their med mal rates quadruple over the last five years alone.) Nationally, about five birthing centers a year are closing, though that's offset by a slightly larger increase in launches.

The decrease in non-hospital birthing options has upset a small but committed group of women, somewhere between 3 and 10 percent of area mothers, who don't want to give birth in hospitals. Still, with increasing numbers of women seeking C-sections and epidurals, and growing numbers of hospitals offering homelike, high-touch care, the number of non-hospital options may continue to decrease, observers say.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this article from The Washington Post

PLUS:  A western Pennsylvania hospital has opened a new birthing unit boasting plush amenities like flat screen TV sets, entertainment centers, rocking chairs and hotel-like decor. Article

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