by Bonnie Rochman
Time Health & Family

If more pregnant women delivered their babies at midwife-led birth centers, the nation’s C-section rate would go down and cost savings would go up, reversing the current twin trend of rising health care expenditures and numbers of cesarean deliveries.

That’s the conclusion reached in a study conducted by the American Association of Birth Centers and published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health. Researchers tracked 15,574 births and found that birth centers saved the health-care system $30 million in facility fees alone. Women who deliver vaginally avoid the cost of surgery and the extra time in the hospital spent recovering.

“If even 10% of births happen in birth centers, we would expect a $1 billion savings each year just in facility fees,” says Cara Osborne, a midwife who is one of the authors of the study. But for pregnant women, delivering at a birth center is still a niche practice.  It’s growing in popularity, but less than 1% of U.S. women have their babies at birth centers, in contrast to other countries where midwife deliveries are far more common.

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