Welcoming families and friends to actively participate in pregnancy, labor, and birth

Juneau Family Health and Birth Center
1601 Salmon Creek Lane
Juneau, Alaska 99801
907.586.1203 call
907.586.5765 fax


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Frequently Asked Questions & Glossary of Common Midwifery Terms

If you are unfamiliar with midwifery you probably have a few questions you'd like answered. The following are some of the most common questions we encounter about the Juneau Family Birth Center specifically and midwifery in general.

What is the Juneau Family Health and Birth Center?

JFHBC is a non-profit "freestanding" birth center. It was founded to provide safe maternity care to low-risk women in a home like setting, or in your home. Our philosophy of care supports the birthing families' choices and desires in how they labor and give birth.

Because labor & birth are considered normal events, the usual rigid protocols employed with obstetric care are not imposed on a normally laboring woman. According to Henci Goer in Obstetrical Myths Versus Research Realities (A Guide to the Medical Literature), "...the routine interventions practiced in hospitals introduce risks....Birth center studies also uniformly report much lower rates of these interventions." As long as the mother and baby remain normal, strict timeframes for the progress of labor are not required.

Women are encouraged to move around in labor and adopt any position they choose. Families are invited to "make themselves at home."

Birth center studies uniformly report outcomes equivalent or superior to those of comparable women giving birth in the hospital.

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What is a licensed CDM midwife?

Literally speaking, midwife means, "with woman." A midwife is a person who views pregnancy and birth as healthy, normal processes, albeit ones that call for supervision and care. In the midwifery model, the childbearing woman has the central role. Midwifery care addresses the psychological and emotion health as well as the physical health of the mother. The midwife seeks to empower the woman by helping her master the challenges of pregnancy and birth.

Certified Direct-Entry Midwives (CDMs) are licensed experts in natural childbirth who monitor the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle. CDMs are licensed by an Alaska State regulatory board that sets standards for their education, apprenticeship, examination, and ongoing review. The Board of Direct-Entry Midwives consists of two CDMs, one Nurse Midwife, one MD with an obstetric practice and one public member.

In practice we assess new clients, and we complete thorough histories and exams. We also provide all the usual laboratory testing as well as complete information on all prenatal screening to be sure that our clients are able to make informed decisions regarding their care. Pregnancies are constantly monitored for problems, and we consult or refer to a physician when a significant deviation from normal occurs. While in labor, women are also monitored closely and early consultation is made with a physician when a deviation from normal occurs.

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Do you offer water births?

We are frequently asked if we will do a birth in the water. In fact, it turns out that a lot of our birthing moms choose to give birth in the water. 

Some of the benefits to laboring in the water include:

  • Reduces sensory stimulus, thus producing less stress-related hormones
  • Increases production of pain inhibitors, i.e., endorphins
  • Decreases blood pressure
  • Increases ability of the mother to focus
  • Reduces the sensations of pain -- an analgesic effect
  • Increases skin elasticity, reducing the amount of perineal tearing
  • Makes it easy for mom or dad (with midwife assistance) to "catch" their own baby because of the buoyancy of water
  • Gentler birth for baby

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    How much will this cost?

    Professional midwifery services are among the most affordable services available for Alaska's childbearing families and are covered by medical insurance. Because Cesarean section rates are extremely low with the Midwifery Model of Care, and the mothers and babies are so healthy, there are many long-term savings as well for this model of maternity care. Here is our complete fee schedule.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

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    Will my insurance cover this?

    Most likely, YES. Licensed midwives are covered by all Alaska- based insurance companies. Many out of state policies also provide coverage for midwifery services. There are, however, numerous plans within each company, so it's always best to call and check.  For clients that are not insured we are happy to set up payment plans to suit your needs. If you are not insured and would like some tips on what insurance plans cover maternity care and midwives, give us a call or contact us via email, below. (*Note: You can acquire medical insurance once you are pregnant and still have the pregnancy covered). 

    We do accept Denali KidCare. 

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    What are your office hours?

    Our office is staffed Monday through Friday from 9 am until 5 pm.

    Midwives are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you need to reach one of them after hours, call the office number below and it will direct you to the on-call midwife. If you are experiencing an ememrgency, call 911.

    Phone: (907) 586-1203

    Fax: (907) 586-5765

    Email: info@juneaubirthcenter.org

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