This post is sponsored by Best Start Birth Center in San Diego, California.

As new (or new again) moms begin to navigate their options for their birth plan, many have the same questions: What is available to me? What if I don’t want to typical hospital birth? What does Tricare cover? If you are considering a birth center for your next childbirth experience, you may have a few questions as to what a birth center is like and what is and is not covered by military healthcare insurance provider, Tricare.

Why Choose a Birth Center Birth?

Birth centers differ from hospitals in that they provide personalized care and a home-like environment. Because a birth center is a smaller, more intimate setting, continuity of care is attainable to a degree that a hospital setting simply isn’t able to meet.  Birth centers are designed to promote comfort for a laboring woman by using natural methods of pain relief and relaxation rather than anesthesia to ease discomfort. Rather than being confined to a bed with continuous monitoring, a laboring woman is encouraged to move freely and have more control over her body. Finally, birth centers employ highly trained staff with specialized skills in natural birth outside of the hospital that keep mothers and babies safe when things do not go as planned. All these elements combine to create a loving, supportive, and inviting atmosphere for birth without a large degree of medical intervention, and create beautiful outcomes that honor mom, baby, and their loved ones.

Your Questions Answered: Tricare And Birth Centers

Home-Like Environment

What makes a birth center so unique is that it offers a home-like environment that is separate from the hospital but still part of the health care system. In addition to prenatal and postpartum care, birth centers like Best Start provide well-woman care, preconception, family planning, and contraception counseling. Birth centers often have comfortably decorated private birth suites with private attached bathrooms. They feature oversized tubs for labor and water births, birthing balls, birthing stools, and many other items that allow the laboring woman to find positions that are most suitable for her during her labor and delivery.

Continuity of Care

Continuity of care is one of the leading reasons birth center popularity is on the rise.  During prenatal care at birthing centers like Best Start, the woman and family get to know all of the midwives and staff. Clients call the midwife who is on-call when it is time to come to the birth center. Midwife meets client at the birthing center and remains with her throughout labor. As delivery approaches, Birth Assistant, (RN or LM), is in attendance to provide extra help with the birth and aftercare.

Comfort in Labor

To promote comfort in labor, many birth centers like Best Start do not use continuous fetal monitoring which requires elastic belts around the abdomen. They want the laboring woman to walk around and change position freely, so they check the baby’s heartbeat regularly with a Doppler; which provides information needed to reassure the baby’s wellbeing.

Your Questions Answered: Tricare And Birth Centers

Your Birth Your Way

Women may labor and birth in any position they choose:  Side-lying, standing, squatting, hands and knees, or in the water. Whatever her choice, the midwife will be there to provide assistance and guidance.

Immediately after birth, the baby goes into the mother’s arms and to the breast (most birth centers encourage breastfeeding- the best way to ensure a healthy bond between mom and baby is to establish breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth). Usually, Dad or a family member cuts the umbilical cord once it has stopped pulsating. Then, the midwife attends to delivery of the placenta and checks for any repairs. Birth centers like Best Start do not perform episiotomies routinely, and our midwives are very good at protecting the tissues while they gently stretch, so any repairs they must make are usually superficial.

  • We encourage eating and drinking while in labor.
  • We can use IVs if needed but do not use them routinely.
  • Personal items to promote comfort are encouraged, (music, favorite clothing, foods and beverages, etc).
  • We do not offer epidural service but use natural methods of pain relief and relaxation stemming from complimentary therapies, such as massage, healing touch therapy, acupressure, and essential oils. Coping with pain and discomfort is easier in a low-tech, homelike environment.
  • Laboring in warm water and birthing in a tub is a popular option.

What about Childbirth Education, Breastfeeding, and Postpartum Support?

It is strongly encouraged that expecting parents take a childbirth class.  Any method preferred is fine, if geared towards natural birth. Best Start Birth Center offers childbirth education in our center for all Best Start clients. They also offer free lactation support/ postpartum support classes, which is open to the public.

Your Questions Answered: Tricare And Birth Centers

What Certification do Birth Centers Have?

All midwives at reputable birthing centers like Best Start Birth Center are licensed and board certified by the Board of Nursing or Board of Medicine. Nurse midwives are registered as nurses first, continued their education into advanced practice, and have been licensed by their state to practice midwifery and certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

*All Nurse-Midwifery education programs require a Master’s degree in Nursing and Midwifery

What if Something Goes Wrong During Labor?

At every prenatal visit, clients are assessed for suitability to deliver at the birth center. If, for any reason, it is not appropriate for a client to deliver at the birth center, care is transferred to a physician/ hospital. (most birth centers like Best Start have OB/GYN consulting physicians).

Midwives adhere to the same standards of care as physicians so the basis of the care received is the same. It is the personal approach and knowledge of normal birth without anesthesia that sets midwifery care in the birth center setting, apart from medical care. The art of midwifery is to provide a safe and emotionally satisfying birth experience according to the personal wishes and desires of the mom.  

Midwives in birth centers are limited to caring for women with low-risk pregnancies. That means that Mom is healthy, and has only one healthy baby coming head first.  If Mom and baby come into labor healthy, statistics show the probability is very high that they will deliver safely.

  • The number one reason is that labor has stalled and is no longer progressing. A stalled labor is very disappointing but is NOT an emergency.  Birth centers often work with nearby hospitals for emergency and non-emergency transfers.  
  • Emergencies: Ambulance transfer to hospital equipped and ready for just such a situation. 

Advantages of childbirth without anesthesia in a birth center is that the mother and her family can make their own decisions, experience the richness of emotion and immense personal empowerment of the miracle of normal childbirth. While the goal of good outcomes for mothers and babies is always the objective, the process of getting to that goal is eminently important. This means including the loved ones of the laboring mom and creating a meaningful birth experience, “your birth your way”.

Does Tricare Accept Birthing Centers?

Tricare does cover birthing centers. It is stated that, “TRICARE covers authorized birthing centers, freestanding or institution-affiliated. This service is limited to low-risk pregnancies, the use of only natural childbirth procedures, and immediate newborn care. Women with high-risk pregnancies are excluded from center care as these centers do not have the ability to manage obstetrical and neonatal emergencies.”


If you are stationed in or around the San Diego area, Best Start Birth Center is an option available to you.

Your Questions Answered: Tricare And Birth Centers

Best Start accepts patients who are covered by:

  • Private Insurance (In network with PPO plans)
  • MediCal 
  • Kaiser Medi-Cal
  • CHAMPUS Tricare/Prime and Select 
  • MCAP
  • Best Start has very reasonable Cash Programs for those who do not have insurance 

 *They are unable to take Active Duty Personnel

* LOW COST doulas are sometimes available 

What are Some Advantages of a “Best Start Birth Center” birth?

  • Continuity of care: The people seen during prenatal appointments are the people who will be at the birth.
  • We have an experienced staff dedicated to providing sensitive, individualized and culturally competent care that honors the mom, the family, and the miracle of birth.
  • All birth rooms and suites are private and pleasantly decorated creating a home-like environment.
  • Each birth suite has a private oversized bath, (full bathroom) to accommodate a water birth, (see our website gallery).
  • All of our midwives are experienced in their field.
  • In labor, each woman receives one-on-one care and support from her midwife and/or nurse.
  • Options – Each woman chooses how she will deliver, who will be present and in what atmosphere.  There is also always the option to change her mind about birth location.  Transfers to the hospital are easily carried out if needed or requested.  

Your birth plan is something you need to feel comfortable with. Birthing centers like Best Start Birth Center in San Diego, California allow for a birth experience of low-risk pregnancy patients that is natural, comfortable, and on a mother’s own terms. If you are interested in learning more about a birthing experience with Best Start, contact them below:

EXPLORE AND CONNECT:
Best Start Birthing Center | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Deployment Baby

Your Questions Answered: Tricare And Birth Centers

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