We decided to interview the San Francisco Birth Center this month.
The three midwives who own and operate the birth center are Julie Birdsong, Nancy Myrick and Sara Van Acker. You can read about them more here.
The SF Birth Center opened in 2016 and is located at
2300 Sutter St. Suite 301
San Francisco, CA 94115.
Having multiple birth options in the city is essential to providing pregnant people with the freedom to give birth how they want. If you don't know what makes a birth center special, you may not even consider it! My own relationship with my midwives was amazing. I really believe that more people should know how intimate your experience can be with midwives in a birth center.
If you are considering a birth there, you should go check them out!
Q: What do you feel are your particular strengths as a Team of Midwives?
A: The three of us come from very different backgrounds. Nancy spent many years running her own home birth practice, Sara has worked exclusively in birth centers, and I come from a hospital background. Our different perspectives have really enriched our team and influenced everything from what kind of chairs and tubs to purchase to how we structure our prenatal visits.
Q: What's the biggest misconception people have about what you do?
A: There are so many! I often get asked, "So where do the women go to have their baby?" We're a comprehensive midwifery practice, which means we do prenatal care, birth, and postpartum home visits.
Q: What's the best piece of advice you have for moms wanting an out of hospital birth?
A: Eat a balanced healthy diet, exercise regularly, start a mindfulness practice, hire a doula and find a midwife that will support the birth you want to have.
Q: What's the most challenging part of your job?
A: I get so close with the families towards the end of pregnancy, when I'm seeing them every week. Then we go through the labor and birth together. I love the intimacy that develops, and then it's really hard to say goodbye after the last postpartum visit! I want to keep hanging out and watching their babies grow.
Q: When you meet with potential clients, how do you know if they are the right fit for your practice?
A: We ask a ton of questions! We go through an extensive health history just like any OB provider, but then we do even more and go even deeper. We give families a birth questionnaire to get to know them more deeply and understand their values and cultural context.
Q: What other types of services do you provide besides midwifery?
A: We partner with Natural Resources to offer educational classes, we host a Breastfeeding Circle on Fridays with a lactation consultant, and a New Parent's Group every Wednesday. New Parent's Group is our way of not having to say goodbye after 6 weeks.
Q: How do you see midwifery growing in San Francisco and the Bay Area?
A: The Bay Area is resource rich with midwives in hospitals and home birth practices. More and more hospitals are adding midwifery services, which I'm thrilled about. In 2016, both San Francisco Birth Center and Marin Family Birth Center opened. Midwifery is growing and people are more and more aware of midwifery care as an option for their birth. We hope to pass a bill this year that will remove barriers for midwives to practice and will increase the ability of midwives to care for birthing families in less resource dense places than our own. If you love a midwife, or think midwifery care is a good thing, take a moment to help us pass AB 1612.
Q: What is the benefit to having a Birth Center Birth vs a Home Birth or Hospital Birth?
A: It's a welcoming, safe and intimate place. There are no alarms or extra people around. We have big beautiful rooms specifically designed for movement in labor. We are the only place you can go in SF to have a water birth. Although some of the hospitals have tubs to labor in, they prefer to have the birth happen on the bed.
Home birth is very similarly intimate, however in SF so many people have living situations that don't feel ideal for home birth, whether it's a too small apartment with no bathtub or not enough space for a rental tub, concern about close neighbors, or distance from a hospital. Both home birth and hospital birth are great options, but we are thrilled to be able to offer this third option for families who want an out of hospital birth.
Q: How many pregnant people do you take on per month?
A: We are currently taking 12 clients per month. Next year, we plan to expand to 15-18 per month.
Q: What kind of prenatal and postpartum care do moms get with you?
A: Our first three visits are an hour long so that each midwife can get to know the family and establish a relationship. After that, we move into the group prenatal model with one on one visits as needed.
We meet monthly in the second trimester and twice a month in the third trimester. During a group session, each client meets privately with the midwife, followed by a facilitated discussion on a variety of topics relevant to the stage of pregnancy.
We invite guest speakers such as pediatricians, lactation consultants, and pregnancy exercise specialists to enrich the discussion. Prenatal groups offer a rich opportunity to share experiences and resources, to learn from one another, and to create a long-lasting community of support.
Our postpartum care centers around family well-being and early transitions in the home environment. We want our new families to stay at home and enjoy the first few weeks. Our visits include well baby and well mother assessment as well as extensive lactation support. Home visits for postpartum care are done two to three times in the first week, followed by office visits at two weeks and 5-6 weeks.
For more information or a tour, click below!