Birthing Options

The rise of birth centers, and the re-emergence of the home births in the Hudson Valley

There are variables within a woman’s control that can help shape her birthing experience. Your attitude is critical, of course. And your support system. But at least as important is the place where you choose to deliver. It will often determine what kind of practitioner you have and what sort of freedom you’re allowed during your labor and delivery.

First timer?

“Women need to have choices,” says Mary Riley, a doula from Glenford. “In the Hudson Valley you have choices — you can choose a homebirth or a birth center. It depends on what you’re looking for. Where do you feel safest? Whatever choice you make has responsibilities. You have to get educated about your options.”


In many states, birth centers are, by legal definition, private facilities (other than hospitals) that provide labor, delivery, postpartum, and newborn care. They are usually run by midwives, and offer an environment where labor and birth are embraced as normal biological processes.


While there are technically no freestanding, midwife-run birth centers in New York at this time, a number of hospital labor and delivery units in the Hudson Valley have distinguished themselves by adopting a more family-centered, non-interventional approach to obstetrics.

How long should I let my baby cry?


“It’s more effort, it requires more attention to do birth center-style care,” explains Dr. George Verrilli, who founded the Neugarten Family Birth Center at Northern Dutchess Hospital. “Doctors today have to deal with volume, there isn’t time to watch women closely for long periods of time — to unhook them from heart monitors so they can walk, or offer support to help work through pain.” The Neugarten Birth Center, which turns 25 this year, was founded to provide an alternative, supportive, and family-oriented birth experience.


Most birth centers will give you a tour of the facilities. Do not skip this critical opportunity. It allows you not only to check out the rooms, amenities, etc., but to get a feel for the staff that will be present to assist during labor and the birth of your child. Most centers will allow you to develop a birthing plan that sets forth what you would like to happen. This is a good time to review your plan and make sure the facility is willing and able to follow through on your requirements.

What to expect at a birthing center