Amish women have their babies in one of three places–at home, in the hospital, or at birthing centers. Some Amish prefer the at-home or birthing center options for reasons of cost and comfort.
Midwives working in the community are both Amish and non-Amish, and may be licensed or unlicensed. Midwife-assisted birth is another in the list of issues involving Amish which have garnered controversy. Like the raw milk or child labor questions, this one involves government regulations concerning health and well-being.
And it’s one of the relatively few which have compelled Amish to take the form of organized public action. For example, hundreds of Amish and Mennonites gathered at the PA State Capitol in 1990 in support of a midwife bill. They showed similar support for an uncertified PA midwife in 2007.
A recent article in the Coshocton Tribune looked at the New Beford Care Center, one of a handful of birthing facilities in the state of Ohio. The Center was built by the community “to fulfill the dream of Amish midwife Laura Gingrich, who provided midwifery services in the community out of her basement.” The facility is fitted out with Amish-friendly amenities, including a double bed for fathers to stay over.
While some centers have doctors on staff, the New Bedford facility does not, and is staffed round-the-clock by midwives. What about safety at the Center? From the article:
Medical intervention is low at the center. In 2011, four of the center’s 100 patients were transported for medical treatment, two of those being C-sections. The reason medical assistance is so low is because to be religiously exempt from licensure, the staff can only provide care to low-risk clients. For those emergency cases, Dr. Gabriel Yandam, of La Femme Obstetrics & Gynecology is the center’s back-up obstetrician.
“Anytime a medical issue arises, we transfer to him and he takes care of them at Coshocton Hospital,” Boyd said.
A heliport outside the entrance to the building allows for a quick transport.
“We never use it for the center,” Nisley said, “which we’re thankful.”
Boyd said the patch of grass marked off by specialty lights mainly has been used for other emergencies within the community.
Though the centers have been popular, certainly not all Amish have their children outside the hospital. For those that do prefer alternative settings, birthing centers are helping to fulfill that role. Read more on where Amish babies are born.