COVID-19 UPDATE: Should I switch to an out-of-hospital birth? Do home birth providers and birth centers still have availability?

new family with newborn

UPDATED 11/5

Are you (re)considering giving birth at home or in a birth center? Here’s what you need to know about out-of-hospital birth options in the Chicago area.

Chicago-area home birth providers and both of our two local midwife-led birth centers are seeing a surge in interest from pregnant women who are concerned about COVID-19. You may be thinking about switching providers because your hospital is not allowing you to bring both your partner and your doula. Or you may be concerned about going into the hospital because of fears of being exposed to the coronavirus. 

Of course, no one knows how long care will be impacted by the pandemic. If you’re in your first or second trimester, the situation might be normalizing by the time you’re due. If you’re in your third trimester, transferring care now will obviously be a challenge emotionally and your options will be more limited. But even if you’re due very soon, you may still have alternatives.

Whether you’re considering switching care or just starting to think about where to have your baby, here’s what you need to know.

Learn more about out-of-hospital birth

Out-of-hospital birth is a good fit for some women but it’s definitely not right for everyone: it requires that you take greater responsibility for your care and your decisions, so it’s very important that you educate yourself. There’s already lots of information about home birth and birth centers on BirthGuide. You can take the “where should I have my baby?” questionnaire to see if home birth or a birth center might right for you. You can also hear birth stories, learn more about the pros and cons of each setting, compare home birth and birth centers to hospital birth, and find home birth midwives and birth centers.

What a home birth midwife wants you to know

Here’s some advice from Sarah Simmons of New Life Midwifery Services, who is one of Chicago’s most experienced home birth midwives:

If you never considered home birth before, fear of coronavirus is not a good enough reason to switch providers.

Home birth requires a whole mindset. You have to want to be empowered to take charge of your health care, you need to be an informed  consumer. You definitely have to be planning a natural childbirth. For people who already have that mindset, maybe who were seriously considering home birth before coronavirus came along, then this could tip them over the edge to say “ah, ha, home birth!”  But if you never considered home birth before now, if you were planning an epidural, if you always thought you’d feel safer in the hospital, then you are probably not a good candidate for a home birth. For one thing, your likelihood of transferring is higher if you don’t instinctively feel safe birthing at home. There is a very complicated hormonal interplay going on during labor. Labor works best when the mother is relaxed and her hormones are functioning at their full efficiency.  If you feel anxiety, your fight or flight hormones are going to dominate and that’s going to inhibit your contractions and make you have a longer, more painful labor. Most women choose hospital birth in this culture, and that’s often because they feel safer having the technology of the hospital right there. If you’re in that category, you’re not going to feel safe at home and your labor may be harder and longer than it needs to be. You may even end up transferring to the hospital in labor, and that’s even less ideal because you’re coming in under more urgent circumstances and the transfer is very disruptive.

Consider the option of sticking with your current providers but leaving the hospital as soon as possible after your baby is born.

If you end up deciding that home birth isn’t for you, or if you can’t find a practice that has availability, then seriously consider demanding early discharge. Get out of the hospital as soon as you can, maybe within 4 to 6 hours after birth. Some of the home birth midwives are offering postpartum nursing care even for families who have hospital births. It’s a good middle ground.  The postpartum nurse or midwife can draw the baby’s newborn screening test and evaluate for jaundice and/or feeding difficulties.  She can also assess the mother for postpartum complications. You can limit your exposure in the hospital quite a bit that way.

In-home postpartum care after a hospital birth

The following practices are offering in-home postpartum care to support families who are considering early discharge from the hospital after a hospital birth. Call or email for availability:

CHILDBIRTH THE WAY NATURE INTENDED | DEBBIE BOUCHER CNM [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: Use website contact us form

Phone: (847) 223-8400

MY MINDFUL BIRTH | ISABELLE GUILLOU CNM [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

NEW LIFE MIDWIFERY SERVICES | SARAH SIMMONS CNM [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (773) 573-9100

WILLOW PEDIATRICS | DR. AMBER PRICE [CONCIERGE PEDIATRICIAN AND IBCLC]

Contact form

Phone: 1-312-869-9556

Out of hospital birth availability [by due date month]

Below is a running list of out-of-hospital options that are still available, organized the month of your due date. Be aware that you may or may not qualify for out-of-hospital birth, even where a practice has availability. You need to check with each practice to confirm that you are a good candidate for the care they offer.

Due in November?

GENTLE BIRTH CARE [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

May have availability. Transfer of care decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-4292

MIDWIVES CARE LLC [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (815) 269-4344

NEW LIFE MIDWIFERY SERVICES | SARAH SIMMONS CNM [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (773) 573-9100

THE BIRTH CENTER AT PCC [FREESTANDING MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER]

The PCC Midwives deliver in this freestanding birth center.  “Freestanding” means that the center is not at a hospital. You can bring both your partner and your doula. Water birth is still being offered.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-0845

Additional options to consider: 

West Suburban Midwife Associates attend births in the WEST SUBURBAN HOSPITAL ALTERNATIVE BIRTHING CENTER [IN-HOSPITAL MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER]. This midwife practice offers care in a separate locked unit in the hospital where only low-risk women give birth. As of now, you can bring both your partner and your doula. Water birth and nitrous oxide are also both still being offered.

Email: [email protected] – Please provide as much information as possible.

Phone: (708) 848-3800 (preferred). Please say you are requesting possible transfer of care. A CNM will speak with you and gather information. Transfer of care decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

Note that The PCC Midwives, who attend births at The Birth Center at PCC (see above), can also care for you in the WEST SUBURBAN HOSPITAL ALTERNATIVE BIRTHING CENTER [IN-HOSPITAL MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER].

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-0845

To see other hospitals where your partner and your doula are both still allowed to be with you in labor, look for the hospitals with an asterisk in this list.

Due in December?

GENTLE BIRTH CARE [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-4292

MIDWIVES CARE LLC [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (815) 269-4344

NEW LIFE MIDWIFERY SERVICES | SARAH SIMMONS CNM [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (773) 573-9100

THE BIRTH CENTER AT PCC [FREESTANDING MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER]

The PCC Midwives deliver in this freestanding birth center.  “Freestanding” means that the center is not at a hospital. You can bring both your partner and your doula. Water birth is still being offered.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-0845

Additional options to consider: 

West Suburban Midwife Associates attend births in the WEST SUBURBAN HOSPITAL ALTERNATIVE BIRTHING CENTER [IN-HOSPITAL MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER]. This midwife practice offers care in a separate locked unit in the hospital where only low-risk women give birth. As of now, you can bring both your partner and your doula. Water birth and nitrous oxide are also both still being offered.

Email: [email protected] – Please provide as much information as possible.

Phone: (708) 848-3800 (preferred). Please say you are requesting possible transfer of care. A CNM will speak with you and gather information. Transfer of care decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

Note that The PCC Midwives, who attend births at The Birth Center at PCC (see above), can also care for you in the WEST SUBURBAN HOSPITAL ALTERNATIVE BIRTHING CENTER [IN-HOSPITAL MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER].

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-0845

Due in January?

GENTLE BIRTH CARE [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-4292

MIDWIVES CARE LLC [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Only 2 spots available.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (815) 269-4344

NEW LIFE MIDWIFERY SERVICES | SARAH SIMMONS CNM [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (773) 573-9100

THE BIRTH CENTER AT PCC [FREESTANDING MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER]

The PCC Midwives deliver in this freestanding birth center.  “Freestanding” means that the center is not at a hospital. You can bring both your partner and your doula. Water birth is still being offered.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-0845

Additional options to consider: 

West Suburban Midwife Associates attend births in the WEST SUBURBAN HOSPITAL ALTERNATIVE BIRTHING CENTER [IN-HOSPITAL MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER]. This midwife practice offers care in a separate locked unit in the hospital where only low-risk women give birth. As of now, you can bring both your partner and your doula. Water birth and nitrous oxide are also both still being offered.

Email: [email protected] – Please provide as much information as possible.

Phone: (708) 848-3800 (preferred). Please say you are requesting possible transfer of care. A CNM will speak with you and gather information. Transfer of care decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

Note that The PCC Midwives, who attend births at The Birth Center at PCC (see above), can also care for you in the WEST SUBURBAN HOSPITAL ALTERNATIVE BIRTHING CENTER [IN-HOSPITAL MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER].

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-0845

To see other hospitals where your partner and your doula are both still allowed to be with you in labor, look for the hospitals with an asterisk in this list.

Due in February?

GENTLE BIRTH CARE [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-4292

MIDWIVES CARE LLC [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Only 2 spots available.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (815) 269-4344

NEW LIFE MIDWIFERY SERVICES | SARAH SIMMONS CNM [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (773) 573-9100

THE BIRTH CENTER AT PCC [FREESTANDING MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER]

The PCC Midwives deliver in this freestanding birth center.  “Freestanding” means that the center is not at a hospital. You can bring both your partner and your doula. Water birth is still being offered.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-0845

Additional options to consider: 

West Suburban Midwife Associates attend births in the WEST SUBURBAN HOSPITAL ALTERNATIVE BIRTHING CENTER [IN-HOSPITAL MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER]. This midwife practice offers care in a separate locked unit in the hospital where only low-risk women give birth. As of now, you can bring both your partner and your doula. Water birth and nitrous oxide are also both still being offered.

Email: [email protected] – Please provide as much information as possible.

Phone: (708) 848-3800 (preferred). Please say you are requesting possible transfer of care. A CNM will speak with you and gather information. Transfer of care decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

Note that The PCC Midwives, who attend births at The Birth Center at PCC (see above), can also care for you in the WEST SUBURBAN HOSPITAL ALTERNATIVE BIRTHING CENTER [IN-HOSPITAL MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER].

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-0845

To see other hospitals where your partner and your doula are both still allowed to be with you in labor, look for the hospitals with an asterisk in this list.

Due in March?

CHILDBIRTH THE WAY NATURE INTENDED | DEBBIE BOUCHER CNM [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

One spot only.

Email: Use website contact us form

Phone: (847) 223-8400

GENTLE BIRTH CARE [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-4292

NEW LIFE MIDWIFERY SERVICES | SARAH SIMMONS CNM [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (773) 573-9100

THE BIRTH CENTER AT PCC [FREESTANDING MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER]

The PCC Midwives deliver in this freestanding birth center.  “Freestanding” means that the center is not at a hospital. You can bring both your partner and your doula. Water birth is still being offered.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-0845

Additional options to consider: 

West Suburban Midwife Associates attend births in the WEST SUBURBAN HOSPITAL ALTERNATIVE BIRTHING CENTER [IN-HOSPITAL MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER]. This midwife practice offers care in a separate locked unit in the hospital where only low-risk women give birth. As of now, you can bring both your partner and your doula. Water birth and nitrous oxide are also both still being offered.

Email: [email protected] – Please provide as much information as possible.

Phone: (708) 848-3800 (preferred). Please say you are requesting possible transfer of care. A CNM will speak with you and gather information. Transfer of care decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

Note that The PCC Midwives, who attend births at The Birth Center at PCC (see above), can also care for you in the WEST SUBURBAN HOSPITAL ALTERNATIVE BIRTHING CENTER [IN-HOSPITAL MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER].

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-0845

To see other hospitals where your partner and your doula are both still allowed to be with you in labor, look for the hospitals with an asterisk in this list.

Due in April?

CHILDBIRTH THE WAY NATURE INTENDED | DEBBIE BOUCHER CNM [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Two spots only.

Email: Use website contact us form

Phone: (847) 223-8400

GENTLE BIRTH CARE [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-4292

MIDWIVES CARE LLC [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (815) 269-4344

NEW LIFE MIDWIFERY SERVICES | SARAH SIMMONS CNM [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (773) 573-9100

THE BIRTH CENTER AT PCC [FREESTANDING MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER]

The PCC Midwives deliver in this freestanding birth center.  “Freestanding” means that the center is not at a hospital. You can bring both your partner and your doula. Water birth is still being offered.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-0845

Additional options to consider: 

West Suburban Midwife Associates attend births in the WEST SUBURBAN HOSPITAL ALTERNATIVE BIRTHING CENTER [IN-HOSPITAL MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER]. This midwife practice offers care in a separate locked unit in the hospital where only low-risk women give birth. As of now, you can bring both your partner and your doula. Water birth and nitrous oxide are also both still being offered.

Email: [email protected] – Please provide as much information as possible.

Phone: (708) 848-3800 (preferred). Please say you are requesting possible transfer of care. A CNM will speak with you and gather information. Transfer of care decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

Note that The PCC Midwives, who attend births at The Birth Center at PCC (see above), can also care for you in the WEST SUBURBAN HOSPITAL ALTERNATIVE BIRTHING CENTER [IN-HOSPITAL MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER].

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-0845

To see other hospitals where your partner and your doula are both still allowed to be with you in labor, look for the hospitals with an asterisk in this list.

Due in May?

CHILDBIRTH THE WAY NATURE INTENDED | DEBBIE BOUCHER CNM [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

1 spot only.

Email: Use website contact us form

Phone: (847) 223-8400

GENTLE BIRTH CARE [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-4292

MIDWIVES CARE LLC [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (815) 269-4344

NEW LIFE MIDWIFERY SERVICES | SARAH SIMMONS CNM [HOME BIRTH PRACTICE]

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (773) 573-9100

THE BIRTH CENTER AT PCC [FREESTANDING MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER]

The PCC Midwives deliver in this freestanding birth center.  “Freestanding” means that the center is not at a hospital. You can bring both your partner and your doula. Water birth is still being offered.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-0845

Additional options to consider: 

West Suburban Midwife Associates attend births in the WEST SUBURBAN HOSPITAL ALTERNATIVE BIRTHING CENTER [IN-HOSPITAL MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER]. This midwife practice offers care in a separate locked unit in the hospital where only low-risk women give birth. As of now, you can bring both your partner and your doula. Water birth and nitrous oxide are also both still being offered.

Email: [email protected] – Please provide as much information as possible.

Phone: (708) 848-3800 (preferred). Please say you are requesting possible transfer of care. A CNM will speak with you and gather information. Transfer of care decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

Note that The PCC Midwives, who attend births at The Birth Center at PCC (see above), can also care for you in the WEST SUBURBAN HOSPITAL ALTERNATIVE BIRTHING CENTER [IN-HOSPITAL MIDWIFE-LED BIRTH CENTER].

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (708) 386-0845

To see other hospitals where your partner and your doula are both still allowed to be with you in labor, look for the hospitals with an asterisk in this list.