Brooklyn Birthing Center in The New York Times!

We are proud to report that Brooklyn Birthing Center is heavily featured in today’s The New York Times article, “Why New York Lags So Far Behind on Natural Childbirth.” This article explores the unique barriers faced by New York City families seeking a low-intervention birth experience.

According to Doctor Laura Zeidenstein, director of the graduate midwifery program at Columbia School of Nursing, “Midwifery is very hands-on and time-intensive. Midwives utilize technology judiciously. The cost is human time and that just can’t be billed for.” Medical interventions such as anesthesia, on the other hand, are well-compensated by insurance payers. Many birthing centers have folded due to economic pressures or bureaucratic red tape.

Despite these challenges, New York City parents-to-be continue to demand access to skilled midwifery care. As today’s New York Times article points out, Brooklyn Birthing Center addresses this demand as the only accredited freestanding birthing facility in metropolitan New York.


Induction at 39 weeks?

Many birth professionals and parents-to-be are curious about the results of the ARRIVE trial, a clinical study that compared elective induction of labor at 39 weeks to “expectant management” (or waiting for labor to begin naturally).

The study, entitled, “Labor Induction versus Expectant Management in Low-Risk Nulliparous Women,” was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in August of 2018. The authors concluded that induction of labor at 39 weeks resulted in “a significantly lower frequency of cesarean delivery.”

This conclusion has sparked controversy among health care providers. The American College of Nurse-Midwives cautions that the ARRIVE results cannot be generalized to all pregnant people in all health care settings, and argues that “there are a number of potentially negative implications when we disrupt the normal physiological processes of labor and birth.”

This infographic outlines some criticisms of the ARRIVE trial. In this video, Rebecca Dekker, RN, PhD, of Evidence-Based Birth discusses the ARRIVE trial in detail. If you are curious about the ARRIVE trial or the risks and benefits of elective induction, please talk with your healthcare provider.


We’re in-network with Aetna!

We are pleased to announce that we are now in-network with Aetna! We look forward to welcoming more Aetna members into our practice.

We understand that many prospective clients have questions about insurance coverage. We accept most major insurance plans, including Medicaid managed care plans. Although some plans will claim that we are “out of network,” we are often able to obtain gap exceptions. We also offer discounts and payment plans for self-pay clients.

We strive to minimize out-of-pocket costs and eliminate surprise bills. Toward this goal, we work with a professional billing service in order to verify benefits, estimate out-of-pocket costs, and negotiate gap exceptions. For more information, please check out the insurance section of our website or attend an orientation.


“… a magic bubble of calm, quiet, and safety.”

A new BBC mom graciously shared her birth story with us! Here’s Hannah’s story, in her own words:

In the weeks leading up to Max’s arrival I had been seeing an acupuncturist at Tigerlily Holistic, and at 40 weeks and 2 days they did an “induction treatment,” which is meant to really get things moving and open things up. The next morning at 7:15am my water broke! There was some light green meconium in the water, but Linda the midwife reassured me that it was light enough that it was safe to continue with the birth center birth. By 8:30am I was having contractions about every 6 minutes lasting 30 seconds. They felt like cramps, and I could still walk and talk through them. Then 20 minutes later they were feeling stronger, coming every 5 minutes.

​By the time my husband arrived home at 9:30am the contractions were 4 minutes apart lasting 50 seconds. I spent some time laboring on a birth ball, and then lying in bed while listening to a hypnobirthing script I had practiced with while pregnant. The contractions were VERY strong at this point, I could no longer talk through them, but I was able to relax fully and deeply in between each one.

Next, around 12pm, I got in the shower and the contractions were coming so fast and strong I couldn’t talk at all! Markus announced they were about 2 minutes apart but I didn’t really hear him, I was too busy throwing up and breathing. I knew this was a sign that the baby was coming soon, but I wasn’t really thinking at this point just trying to keep breathing through each wave. We called Lily; it was definitely time to go. The birthing center was almost an hour away but I managed to get comfortable by kneeling on the floor and shoving my face and shoulders between two big pillows and pushing my back and butt against the back of the front seat. It felt good to push against something and riding with the bumps in the road helped distract me from the contractions that felt like they were on top of each other. 

We got to the birth center around 1:30pm and I made it to ring the bell at the stoop just before I had to drop down to the ground for another contraction. Lily the midwife arrived at that moment, and we went inside. It was cool and empty, and as soon as I went into the bathroom and sat on the toilet I felt a big wonderful push sensation! It felt intense but was a relief after the contractions. Lily checked me out and I was 10 cm dilated- the baby was coming! Our doula Bonnie and the assistant Kathryn arrived and Markus parked the car and came back just in time to head back to the room with us. Looking back, I am so thankful that we didn’t have to go through triage, or deal with being hooked up to an IV or a monitor at this point. Instead, everyone followed my lead as I pushed kneeling by the bed, then I was offered a birthing ball. Lily began to fill the tub as I had asked, and the sound of running water was so nice. Markus and Bonnie alternated holding my hand with each push and putting a cold wash cloth on my neck which all felt amazing. The room was quiet except for the water running, my moans with each contraction, and the encouraging words of Bonnie, Markus, Lily, and Kathryn.

The pushing itself felt strong but wonderful, to be honest, and I was almost disappointed when each wave subsided. I heard Lily say she could see the baby’s head, and we all moved to a birth stool- I couldn’t imagine making it into the tub and I was feeling good where we were. Bonnie held a mirror under me so I could watch our progress, which I didn’t think I would want but it was awesome to have. The baby’s head was coming, two steps forward with each push and one step back with each rest, and Lily reassured me I was stretching nicely. When she announced the baby’s head would come with the next push I didn’t believe her. But out it came, along with one hand pressed against his face!! Lily calmly slipped the cord over his neck and I fell back against Markus to rest. I heard Lilly say our baby would be born with the next push. I still didn’t believe her​, but sure enough his body slid right out at around 2:40pm.

In a quick fluid motion Lily lifted our baby to my chest and I said “It’s a boy!” We didn’t know the gender until that moment. Lily and Linda and Kathryn massaged my uterus and gave me a quick shot of Pitocin to help stop some extra blood flow and helped me rub our son down to get him breathing nicely. They moved me, Markus, and our baby to the bed as a unit and I sang to our baby while they helped deliver the placenta and stitched a small tear. They covered the lamp with some fabric so the light was nice and dim, and left us to cuddle and eat delivery sushi. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude, relief, and joy. Remembering Max’s birth I couldn’t and still cannot believe how lucky we are.

Our first minutes and hours with our son ​were spent ​in ​a magic bubble of calm, quiet, and safety. Words cannot express how grateful we are for the exceptional care we received and continue to be receiving from the Brooklyn Birthing Center​.

Thank you for providing our community with an intervention-free, out of hospital option for our babies to be born into! ​


“The midwives made me feel very empowered.”

This spring, we devoted a lot of time to surveying our postpartum clients and reviewing their feedback. We were honored to receive some absolutely heartwarming testimonials— which we will be sharing on our blog over the next several weeks! BBC families: if you would like to post a testimonial or share your birth story, please contact rachelanne@brooklynbirthingcenter.com.

“I felt taken care of, especially since this is my first child. I didn’t feel alone and during the birth. When I wanted to quit and go to the hospital the midwives encouraged me to keep going. I’m happy I did.” -Natasha

“The staff was incredible. I never felt that I could not have the birth I wanted or that I was incapable. The midwives made me feel very empowered … Yuen, Nicole, and Charlotte were absolutely incredible during my labor and especially post labor. They were sympathetic to my being a first time mom and never made me fell like my pain was exaggerated but at the same time I felt strengthened by them and comforted.” -Brand New Mom

“Everyone was so kind and showed great care for me and my baby. More than I could expect. Thank you very much for a great experience! And special BIG thanks for Linda!” -Happy Mama

A huge thank you to the clients who shared their feedback. These stories sum up everything we love about the midwifery model of care! Stay tuned for more testimonials and birth stories!


Brooklyn Birthing Center Receives Baby-Friendly Designation

Brooklyn Birthing Center, the only accredited freestanding birthing center in the New York City metro area, is now Brooklyn’s very first Baby-Friendly designated facility. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global project sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The project aims to increase the rates of breastfeeding initiation, exclusivity, and duration worldwide.

In order to achieve Baby-Friendly designation, hospitals and birthing centers must provide extensive breastfeeding education and support, encourage skin-to-skin care and rooming-in while limiting the separation of mothers and newborns, and avoid promoting products that interfere with breastfeeding (such as infant formulas, bottles, and pacifiers). There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birthing centers across the globe, but less than 18% of US births occur in Baby-Friendly facilities. Brooklyn Birthing Center is one of just five Baby-Friendly designated birthing centers in the United States, and one of just two independent (as opposed to hospital-owned) Baby-Friendly birthing centers in the nation.

Amber with Eric Adams, 10.28.15 EDITED
Amber Star of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast and Borough President Eric Adams at a Brooklyn Birthing Center event last October.

This prestigious designation marks the culmination of over three years of hard work by Brooklyn Birthing Center’s administration, midwives, nurses, and support staff. The birthing center applied to join the New York City Breastfeeding Hospital Collaborative in the spring of 2013, and spent 36 months developing an extensive lactation program with support from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Baby-Friendly USA staffers conducted a detailed site assessment in June of 2016, and confirmed that Brooklyn Birthing Center meets all criteria for Baby-Friendly designation in July.

Brooklyn Birthing Center has promoted breastfeeding since its inception in 1999; however, the birthing center dramatically expanded its lactation program in order to comply with the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative’s 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. New program components include a minimum of 25 hours of lactation education for all clinical staff members; a prenatal breastfeeding class for birthing center clients and for members of the general public; one-on-one consultations with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC); and increased breastfeeding support during the first hours postpartum. Brooklyn Birthing Center is also a donation depot for Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast, a non-profit that supplies donor milk to several local hospital NICUs.

Cabrera SLIDER
The Cabrera family, shortly after birthing their second child with Brooklyn Birthing Center midwives.

“Our clients are much better prepared to initiate breastfeeding as a result of these changes,” observed Linda Gaglioti, CNM, Brooklyn Birthing Center’s Director of Midwifery. “They ask about skin-to-skin care and point out early feeding cues in the delivery suites! We overhear them telling family members why they want to nurse according to their babies’ cues, rather than according to a schedule. The change is really remarkable.”

Jennifer Leopold, IBCLC, LMSW, Brooklyn Birthing Center’s Director of Lactation Services, commented, “I have been teaching breastfeeding to health care workers and pregnant women for many years. But since we began our Baby-Friendly journey, our clients have reported that they are much more confident in their ability to breastfeed.”

Lillian, the 1,000th baby born at Brooklyn Birthing Center.

According to Rachel Anne Libon, Project Manager at Brooklyn Birthing Center, “Participating in the New York City Breastfeeding Hospital Collaborative was a wonderful experience. We received expert guidance from the Bureau of Maternal, Infant, and Reproductive Health, and we attended quarterly learning sessions with staff from other aspiring Baby-Friendly hospitals. It is encouraging to see more New York City hospitals adopting evidence-based practices to support breastfeeding families.”

At the time of this press release, New York City’s Baby-Friendly facilities include Harlem Hospital, NYU Langone Medical Center, Queens Hospital Center, Lincoln Medical & Mental Health Center, North Central Bronx Hospital, Richmond University Medical Center, Jacobi Medical Center, Bellevue Hospital Center, and Brooklyn Birthing Center. The last five facilities listed all earned their designation between April and July of 2016— a testament to the success of the City’s Breastfeeding Hospital Collaborative. Several other local hospitals are now participating in the Collaborative, indicating that Baby-Friendly practices are slowly becoming the standard of care in New York City. Brooklyn Birthing Center is the first facility in its borough to earn Baby-Friendly designation.


A BBC Birth Story: Baby Ellis

A lovely BBC mama agreed to share her birth story in honor of her son’s first birthday! Happy birthday, Ellis! 

As this was my second child, I kind of already knew what I was in for, and hopefully that also included a faster delivery this time around. My first baby, Maddie, took a whopping 23 hours to arrive, including 3 hours of active, exhausting pushing.

I was excited and calm once the contractions started. Being so far along, at some point you just want the birth to happen already. I spent the early contractions in the tub, trying to relax as much as possible. Then when they started getting serious, my husband called our birthing doula Nicole— always a calming force— to check in and update her on my process.

My contractions eventually started picking up the pace late in the evening and Nicole said it was time. So my husband called my mother-in-law to come stay with our toddler Maddie, already long asleep in her room, none-the-wiser to what was about to happen and how her world was about to be flipped upside down by the cutest bundle on its way.

From Nicole’s calculations, I was pretty far into active labor and needed to get to the Birthing Center ASAP. The plan was: she would take me in the Uber she had waiting outside and my husband would wait for his mother to arrive before meeting us there. Dressed in nothing but pajama pants and a pale blue cotton robe, I made my way to the waiting Uber with Nicole steadying me to the curb, stopping and breathing with me through each contraction, now coming down faster and more intense.

There wasn’t much traffic on the way, but there were POTHOLES, EVERYWHERE. And the driver seemed to unintentionally hit ALL of them on the way. Between the contractions and the potholes I was pretty certain this baby was going to fall out of me in the car. Nicole was in the backseat with me, her eyes reassuring me that NO, we would NOT birth this baby in the back of this car, not on her watch, as her voice said calmly, “that’s right, find your breathhhhh…”

About 17 excruciatingly long minutes later, we arrived at the Birthing Center and after an initial intake exam by the midwife on duty, we settled into the birthing room. They got the tub ready for me, after knowing I liked working through the contractions in the water the last time around. Finally my husband arrived and greeted me. I was in the tub facing down another set of contractions. Someone asked me if I wanted to BIRTH in the tub as well. I couldn’t focus on anyone’s words at that point as I another contraction washed over me.

At one point one of the midwives said, “if she’s going to give birth in there, there are some things we need to do first…” At that point between the pain of the contractions and feeling of something BIG about to happen I screamed out to no one in particular, “I DON’T CARE WHERE I BIRTH!!” Looking back on it now, that was definitely one of those Hollywood, screaming birthing lady moments. At that point I’m pretty sure my water broke. I felt a HUGE pressure, then a burst. Then a bit of relief. No one noticed because I was still in the tub.

After they helped me out of the water and onto the bed, they were all concerned that my water hadn’t broke yet. I told them about the pressure and burst and then everyone realized it had happened in the tub. Then within 10 mins (which for me felt more like like an hour), I had a few more contractions and then the urge to push and then, he was here. My son, Ellis Lightman, born 4am, April 6, 2015.


Ribbon Cutting with Borough President Eric Adams!

On October 28th, we hosted a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the opening of our breast milk donation depot for Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast (MMBNE)! We were joined by local obstetricians, midwives, doulas, La Leche League leaders, lactation consultants, a NICU nurse at Maimonides Medical Center (our transfer hospital and a recipient of donor milk from Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast), and Borough President Eric Adams!

For more information about our partnership with Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, please see our  June press release. For photos from our Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, please see below!

BBC Family at Ribbon Cutting, 10.28.15

Dr. Guirguis, Dr. Veridiano, Borough President Eric Adams, NYC MMBNE Outreach Coordinator Amber Star-Merkens, and Director of Midwifery Linda Gaglioti in one of our birthing suites.

Amber speaking, 10.28.15

Amber Star-Merkens of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, speaking about the need for donor milk for preterm and medically fragile infants.

Dara Barnett, 10.28.15

Dara Barnett, RN, IBCLC, on the role of donor milk in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Maimonides Medical Center.

Ribbon Cutting, 10.28.15

Borough President Eric Adams, a generous milk donor, and members of the BBC and MMBNE team cutting our ribbon.

News Uncategorized

Our First Donation for Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast!

Milk DonorWe just received our first donation for Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast! A Brooklyn mom generously donated 100 ounces of pumped breast milk. This milk will be processed by Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast, and then distributed to hospital NICUs throughout the region, where preterm and medically fragile infants will enjoy the health benefits of human milk.

As a donation depot, Brooklyn Birthing Center receives, stores, and ships donor milk for Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast. We hope that by providing this service, we can make it easier for Brooklyn-area families to donate milk.


If you are interested in becoming a donor, please check out this link. The enrollment process includes a phone interview and a quick blood test, which we can complete in our office. Approved donors can contact the milk bank to request free shipping materials, or simply drop milk off at Brooklyn Birthing Center. If a baby you love needs donor milk, click here to learn more.


BBC is now a Donation Depot for Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast!

Brooklyn Birthing Center and Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast (MMBNE) are pleased to announce the opening of a new human milk bank depot, located at Brooklyn Birthing Center in Brooklyn, New York.

A milk bank collects milk from mothers who have more milk than their babies need, then screens, pasteurizes, and tests the milk, and dispenses it primarily to premature and sick babies whose mothers do not have enough milk. The new milk depot, a donor milk collection site, is located at Brooklyn Birthing Center (2183 Ocean Avenue, Brooklyn, NY). Mothers from Brooklyn and beyond will now be able to drop off their milk at the depot for shipment to Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast.

“We are so honored to be part of this amazing program. Donor milk saves the lives of the most fragile of humans, and we applaud all of the wonderful women who so generously donate,” commented Adina Lerer, RN, IBCLC, Director of Lactation Services at Brooklyn Birthing Center. “We are thrilled that we have the opportunity to collect milk from the women of Brooklyn and pass it along to protect our babies. Thank you, Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, for allowing us to be part of this process.”

Naomi Bar-Yam, Ph.D., Executive Director of MMBNE, remarked, “We encourage mothers who have milk to share to consider donating it. The presence of a milk depot in Brooklyn will increase awareness of the importance of breastfeeding and donating milk. Donor mothers find the experience of donating very special, and we hope that the depot will provide an opportunity for mothers to network with one another about this unique, lifesaving gift.”

Milk donor screening, modeled after blood donor screening, includes health history, physician approval, and blood test. These are some of the many measures taken to assure the safety of milk for the fragile premature and sick babies served by MMBNE and the hospitals who use the milk. Breast milk from mothers who pass the screening is also pasteurized and tested by an independent lab to ensure safety before being dispensed to hospitals or families.

Donor milk can be lifesaving for preterm infants. It is especially protective against a life-threatening condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which affects one in ten of the smallest preterm infants. Donor breast milk is estimated to lower the risk of this condition by 79%. It also lowers hospital costs by reducing costs for care and shortening hospital stays.

Donor milk is rapidly becoming the standard supplement to mothers’ milk for preterm infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). This has led to greater demand for safe pasteurized donor human milk from nonprofit milk banks like MMBNE that are certified by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). MMBNE has been screening donors, pasteurizing milk, and dispensing to over 40 hospitals in 10 states plus the District of Columbia, and to families throughout the Northeastern United States, since 2011.

In New York alone, MMBNE provides milk to 12 hospitals, including three in New York City that have started offering donor milk within the past month— Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital in Brooklyn and NYU Langone Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan. Since 2012, 326 New York mothers have donated milk to MMBNE, including 35 from Brooklyn alone. The new depot will make it easier than ever for Brooklyn mothers to provide the lifesaving gift of donor milk.

Mothers who wish to donate milk can review guidelines on the Milk Bank website, www.milkbankne.org/donate, then contact a Donor Intake Coordinator for screening at 212-993-1566 or donate@milkbankne.org. Approved donors can then arrange to drop off milk at the new depot by e-mailing Rachel Anne Libon at rachelanne@brooklynbirthingcenter.com.