Mothers-to-be searching for alternatives to traditional prenatal, birth and postpartum care might soon have a solution.
The Augusta County Board of Zoning Appeals voted Thursday to approve a special use permit for a midwifery birth center in Fishersville.
The freestanding birth center will operate at 1610 Goose Creek Rd., the former site of Marion’s Goose Creek Animal Clinic. It will be open two to three days per week and provide care to four to six clients scheduled to deliver each month.
Erin Murphy, creator of Queen City Birth Services LLC, said during Thursday’s public meeting she thinks Augusta County residents would greatly benefit from having a freestanding birth center in the area.
“Growing families that want this safe, cost-effective service have to travel over an hour to receive midwifery care in an out-of-hospital setting,” Murphy said.
Murphy, has worked in birthing for 18 years, is both a certified professional midwife and a licensed midwife.
“I aim to have a safe, evidence-based practice that is respectful and in a peaceful setting,” she said.
The birth center will be the first of its kind in Augusta County. Right now, the closest option for in-house midwifery care is the Brookhaven Women’s Health and Natural Birth Center in Rockingham County.
Cara Shanks, a mother of two who birthed her second child at Brookhaven, spoke in favor of the proposed birth center. She said there is a need for it because of the growing number of women going outside of this area to birth their children.
She also talked about her friends’ experience with the local hospital.
“Three of them have already said they would never step foot back in Augusta Health because of their birthing experience,” Shanks said. “I know it’s something that mothers in our area are going to be demanding.”
Shanks said if Murphy’s birth center had been open when she was pregnant with her second child, she would have saved seven hours of driving time traveling between Swoope and Rockingham County when going to her monthly prenatal appointments.
Not only will the new birthing center provide a closer location for mothers who want midwifery care, but the cost is less than a traditional birthing experience.
Murphy said the cost of services provided by a midwifery are much cheaper than hospital births. She told the board that clients could receive prenatal, birth and postpartum care for around $4,000.
The board unanimously voted 5-0 to approv the special use permit.
Board member Justine D. Tilghman spoke highly of the new option for expectant mothers.
“I personally believe it’s a much-needed service,” Tilghman said. “I’m glad to see somebody looking into this.”
Before the vote, Tilghman suggested changing the earlier operating conditions agreed on by the board. Three employees can now work alongside Murphy at the birth center instead of the initial zero that had been decided on by board members.
Murphy plans on opening the freestanding birth center later this summer, according to the Queen City Birth Services website.