The Birth Center

The Birth Center provides a comfortable, family-friendly environment and offers two private rooms with queen beds and birthing tubs, large bathrooms with walk-in showers and a fully-equipped kitchen.

Women are attended by the same midwives throughout their pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum, assuring the highest-quality continuity of care.

some Frequently Asked Questions about the Birth Center and our Services:


I am considering transferring my care to the SB Birth Center. What is the first step?

Please fill out our contact form or email the midwives at to schedule a tour and an hour consult free of charge.

Can my partner be involved with the birth?

We welcome your partner to share the birth experience with you every step of the way. He/She can share in your prenatal appointments, classes, and during the birth itself. Many partners get in the birth tub with the laboring mother, help catch the baby, and cut the cord. The partner stays with you and the baby after the birth.

Do I need to have an OB/GYN or MD as well as midwife for my prenatal care of in case of an emergency?

The midwives can do all of your prenatal care and testing. You do not need a physician unless the pregnancy becomes complicated, in which case we will make a referral.

What happens right after the birth? Who does the newborn examination?

When your baby is born it goes right up onto your chest and stays there until after the first breastfeeding if at all possible. Often the partner will cut the cord when it stops pulsing or after the delivery of the placenta. The midwife checks for any needed repairs if any lacerations to the vagina have occurred. We do not do episiotomies routinely, and our midwives are very good at helping you to stretch naturally, so any repairs they must make are usually superficial. Any newborn procedures, exams, and testing are delayed until your baby has been welcomed, warmed, and fed in your arms. The midwife will then do the newborn exam there in your presence an hour or two after the birth. We feed the parents a meal, help mom shower if she would like and tuck everyone into a clean warm bed for a good nap before going home.

Can I pick out the midwife I would like to deliver my baby?

The Midwives work in a team practice at the birth center. They have on call days that they deliver babies, days they work in the clinic, and days off. We want to make sure you know all the midwives well before the delivery. Our appointments are much longer than typical OB appointments so you have time to get to know and become comfortable with the four midwives. Our midwives are committed to helping you have the safest and easiest birth possible in an environment that is sensitive to you and your baby.

If you only have two birthing rooms, what do you do if there are several women in labor at once?

We seldom have more than one mother in labor at a time. If we do, we call in more staff. We have never been so busy that we have to turn our clients away. We have a homelike office space with a bed and inflatable tub that can used as a third birth room should we be unusually busy.

What does a birth center offer that hospitals can not?

Some of the things we can offer that hospitals can not are:

  • Continuity of care: The people you see during your prenatal appointments are the people who will be at your labor and birth, all the way through.
  • We have an experienced team dedicated to providing sensitive individualized care that honors the miracle of birth and the sensitivity of the newborn.
  • All of our midwives and support staff have many years of experience in their field, supporting natural birth.
  • In labor you will receive one-on-one care and support from your Midwife.
  • Options – You choose how you labor, how you birth, who will be present, and in what atmosphere. More importantly, you always have the option to change your mind.
  • All exams of the baby are done right on the bed next to the parents- no separation of mother or baby.

How often do women have to be transferred to the hospital in labor?

In labor, about 10-15% of our women are transferred to Cottage Hospital. The main reason for transfer is labor has stalled and is no longer progressing. A stalled labor is very disappointing but is NOT an emergency. In any non-emergency the woman is transferred to the hospital by private vehicle and one of the midwives or assistants accompanies her and stays with her as support throughout the rest of labor, birth and recovery. We do not have admitting privileges at the hospital so we work with the obstetrician on call. For emergencies, we call an ambulance. Of our mothers who are transferred to the hospital, only a few are delivered by cesarean, for an overall rate of 4-6% for the midwives. (C-section rate for the US is 32% and rising, according to the CDC Report, Dec.2007) In the unlikely event of a hospital transfer, we want you to rest assured that the care you receive will be in your and baby’s best interest. Our local hospital physicians and nurses are an extended arm of our team. We couldn’t be here without their support. They are always available and provide the expert care our transferred mothers and babies need. They are an integral part of why we have the good outcomes we are so proud of, and grateful for. When you visit them for a tour, please keep in mind that their services address special circumstances and their high technical units are what a transferred mom or baby needs. This network of support allows Santa Barbara Birth Center to provide natural childbirth services to our clientele. While we understand that a transfer may be disappointing, our excellent outcomes for mothers and babies are the result of the expert care provided by our local hospital physicians and nurses. Please remember that while the atmosphere and procedures in the hospital are quite different from those at SBBC, like us, they are dedicated to the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies and deserve the support and respect of all of us.

What emergency care and equipment can you provide?

We have oxygen and resuscitation equipment and are certified in resuscitation for mother and baby; IV fluids for hydration, volume replacement and/or the administration of medications to control hemorrhage. We are trained in emergency birth maneuvers for various scenarios. We are conservative in our transfers and do not delay going to the hospital if we feel the mother or baby is at increased risk at any point. Cottage Hospital is only 5 blocks away form the birth center.

How do you decide who is a candidate to birth at the Birth Center?

At every prenatal visit our clients are assessed for their suitability to birth at the birth center. If for any reason it is not appropriate, usually due to medical conditions, for a client to birth at the birth center, her care is transferred to a physician, or she is transferred to a hospital. Midwives adhere to the same standards of care as physicians, so the clinical care you receive is the same, just with a more personal approach, and a stronger emphasis on nutrition, exercise, and complimentary therapies such as chiropractic and acupuncture. Midwives are limited to caring for women with low-risk pregnancies (age does not risk you out of midwifery care or a birth center birth). That means that Mom is healthy, and has only one healthy baby coming head first. If Mom and baby come into labor healthy, the odds are stacked in their favor that they will deliver safely.

How long will I stay after delivery?

Most of our families are ready to go home between four and six hours after delivery; depending on what time the birth has happened. We make sure both mother and baby are recovered and stable before sending you home. We then come to see you in your home within 24-36 hours after the birth, and again on day 3, to be sure all is going well and to evaluate breastfeeding. Then you have a two week and six week post-partum visit at the birth center. If you are having any difficulties with breastfeeding or any aspect of your recovery we are available for visits and phone consultation.

If you do not have epidurals here, how do you help with the pain?

We feel strongly that being in a familiar, comfortable environment that is warm, quiet and supportive, surrounded by familiar caregivers, goes a very long way towards making labor an empowering and very ‘do-able’ experience. Women very rarely need or ask for pain relief when they are birthing in environments such as this. We use natural pain relief methods stemming from complimentary therapies, such as massage, visualization, vocalization, acupressure, and aromatherapy. To promote your comfort in labor, we do not use fetal monitors which strap to your tummy. We want you to walk around and change position freely, and we check the baby’s heartbeat periodically with a Doppler which gives us the information we need. Laboring in the tub is a terrific help with the discomfort of labor. Warm water relaxes the mother, counters gravity and creates pleasurable sensations that compete with painful ones. Most women love the tub in labor, whether or not they choose to birth in the water. The tubs are big enough for partners to join in the bath.

What services are offered at SBBC?

We provide complete prenatal care, labor, birth and recovery, post-partum care, well-woman care, and contraceptive counseling for our clients. As a birth center client you receive a complete network of maternity and women’s health services including:

  • Comprehensive community resource list
  • Complete prenatal care with hour-long prenatal visits. Children and partners welcome
  • Referral for laboratory, ultrasounds, and other diagnostic testing.
  • Consultation with physicians as necessary.
  • Transfer to a hospital if the need should arise.
  • Our birth center has beautifully appointed private birth suites with private attached bathrooms. There are large tubs for labor and water birth, birthing balls, birthing stools and slings, and a supportive environment that encourages the laboring woman to be actively involved in the process.

What is a Birth Center?

A free standing birth center is an outpatient facility for labor and birth, staffed by certified Midwives, that is often close to a hospital. Many hospitals call their labor and delivery wards “birth centers” however, they are not the same. The difference is in how labor is approached: as long as mother and baby are doing well, there are no arbitrary time limits on how long labor may take or how or where the mother may give birth. We work with only healthy women with low-risk pregnancies, so natural, unmedicated, family-centered births are our specialty and our area of expertise. The SB Birth Center allows women to move around in labor as they like and does not use interventions that restrict a laboring mother to the bed. Women are encouraged to birth in many positions, including standing, squatting, hands and knees, on one side, and in the tub. A birth center allows women to actively birth, unmedicated, and results in better outcomes for both mother and baby. There is no separation of mother and baby after the birth. Birth centers hire their own staff who are specially trained to attend and facilitate normal birth. The SB Birth Center is a place that gives you a caring, warm, and home-like environment where you are supported and respected as well as safe and secure. You will have a private room for giving birth where you can:

  • Make yourself comfortable with music and candlelight, queen sized beds and familiar caregivers.
  • Wear your own clothing.
  • Eat when you feel hungry.
  • Soak in a tub or have a water birth.
  • SB birth center welcomes your children, your parents, and your friends so you can decide who will be with you or near you as you give birth.

The Midwives and staff of SBBC give you continuing support well into the postpartum time; holistic pain management; and information on infant care, breastfeeding, parenting, and family planning. SBCC is the first free-standing birth center in Santa Barbara. We are a nonprofit organization, established with the help of the Santa Barbara community in response to the public’s need to have different birthing options available.

Can I see the Birth Center and meet some of the staff before deciding?

Please email the midwives at and schedule a tour and an hour consult free of charge.