TOPSHAM — The Birth Center at Northern Sun, a 53 Main St. facility that serves the Mid-Coast and southern Maine, is now Maine’s only accredited provider of out-of-hospital births.

Certification from the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers means high-quality care is given to pregnant women and their babies, according to the Birth Center, which opened in 2011.

Dr. Sarah Ackerly, a naturopathic doctor and certified professional midwife, founded the center. She has attended out-of-hospital births in Maine since 1995, according to the center.

The center, which frequently serves clients as far as 90 minutes away, averages between four and five births a month. Ackerly also offers home birth services, according to Operations Manager Jen Reich.

The accreditation allows the center to be more affordable and visible, since insurance companies will now cover the facility’s services, Reich explained.

Birth centers typically provide settings and services not available in hospitals, Ackley explained via email. For example, women can have a water birth in the center’s jacuzzi tub, are encouraged to walk and be upright rather than be restricted to a bed, and can eat and drink during labor.

Midwifery care and the jacuzzi tub help to lower the rate of Cesarean sections, she said.

Entire families are also encouraged to take part in births, and expectant mothers get to know the center’s two midwives throughout their pregnancy, so that they can see familiar faces when they deliver, Ackerly said.

“A birth-center birth with a midwife is a great option for those families that are seeking a natural birth in a private, home-like setting where their individual needs will be met,” Reich said. “Hospitals often have set protocols that must be in place for every birth, even those that are healthy, low-risk, normal events.”

Reich added that at a birth center, “a woman’s unique situation and health history can be taken into consideration for the interventions that may or may not be needed for her particular birth.”

Northern Sun is marking the accreditation with an open house on Friday, Oct. 24., from 5-7 p.m.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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