Banner Estrella Medical Center will begin supporting patients who are interested in giving birth in a hospital but without the medical and physician interventions associated with a typical hospital birth. 

The Birthing Center is intended to appeal to mothers who desire a labor and delivery experience that doesn’t include the typical medical interventions, such as the use of medications to expedite labor or control pain. Hospital-based midwifery programs support mothers who desire a natural birth experience, yet want the safety net that only hospitals can provide. 

Patients in the center would use the services of nurse midwives for their deliveries, as opposed to obstetricians. Under the supervision of a physician, the midwives will be fully responsible for each woman’s care. Midwives delivering at Banner Estrella are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, who have completed a nurse-midwifery education program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education.

 “This offering is really about making healthcare easier for our patients,” said Chief Medical Officer Teresa Malcolm, MD, who’s also a board-certified OB/GYN. 

“The goal for us was to offer a natural hospital birth experience with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that medical backup is just outside the door if it’s needed,” she said. “It avoids having to be taken by a car or ambulance to the nearest hospital when things don’t go as planned.”

According to Michelle Miesen, director of Women and Infants Services, an obstetrics physician would be available to provide emergency interventions should it be required. Additionally, emergency anesthesia and neonatal intensive care unit services would be available should mother or baby require them, she said.

For moms choosing the birthing center, a dedicated team of labor and delivery nurses would be present for purposes of oversight, aiding with delivery by positioning the patient, providing intermittent fetal monitoring, and caring for the newborn post-delivery. The hospital’s Women and Infants Services Department has dedicated two rooms in its Labor and Delivery unit for mothers under the care of midwives. 

The rooms will be equipped with some unique amenities, including AquaDoula tubs, portable tubs filled with water that is kept at around 98 degrees. Although water births are not permitted, the warm water relaxes muscles, reduces pain and can aid in the progression of active labor. 

Additionally, the rooms will have laboring stools and so-called peanut balls, both specially designed to support the most natural and physiologically effective positioning throughout labor & delivery.

The birthing center will care for women with uncomplicated pregnancies, uncomplicated labor, vaginal deliveries and normal postpartum recovery. 

The new unit is anticipated to open in September inside the hospital’s Women and Infants Services Department, which underwent a major expansion in 2015. Similar midwifery programs are offered at Banner Ironwood Medical Center in Queen Creek and Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center in Sun City West.