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Why do women choose homebirth?
Women choose to birth at home with qualified midwives for various reasons. Among them is the individualized care and personalized support they receive during prenatal visits, continuous monitoring and support for a normal and natural approach for labor and birth, immediate care of their newborn, and vigilant visitations during the first week postpartum and for the six weeks that follow. Mothers who plan homebirth with qualified midwives experience lower rates of induction, medication, anesthesia, cesarean section, operative vaginal delivery, episiotomy and infection. Babies have lower incidences of prematurity, low birth weight and resuscitation, and breastfeed longer and with more success. The Midwifery Model of Care has been well documented and established as the best model of care with the best outcomes for the large majority of low-risk healthy pregnant women. Homebirth has been studied and scrutinized and is statistically as safe as giving birth in a hospital, with higher levels of client satisfaction reported.

Is homebirth for everyone?
No. A rather small percentage of the population of pregnant women here in the United States choose homebirth (under 4%.) We at Family Life Midwifery, PLLC work closely with every woman to ensure her pregnancy remains low-risk and healthy through extensive prenatal appointments which typically last 60 to 90 minutes. Having a homebirth requires a level of responsibility on the part of the woman and her partner to maintain optimal physical and emotional health and wellbeing. In so doing, families feel more empowered about their health. We help women prepare for the hard work of labor and natural birth. Surrounded by supportive people of her own choosing in a comfortable and familiar environment, a woman may feel remarkably less inhibited in expressing her natural and individual responses to labor. The ability to move around without restriction, the option for eating and drinking in labor and a less time-driven focus on the wide range of what constitutes a normal labor are all advantages that women seek when choosing birth at home.

What is the first step in finding a homebirth provider?
Whatever place of birth a woman and her partner consider, we highly suggest shopping around for the best fit: personably, philosophically, emotionally and geographically. Family Life Midwifery, PLLC offers a free consultation that lasts over an hour and we provide a packet of information about our homebirth services, our childbirth education classes and other support groups, and our professional labor support/doula services. We believe that every woman seeking support for natural birth deserves a doula and every woman desiring a homebirth deserves well qualified homebirth midwifery services. In addition to homebirth services with Family Life Midwifery, PLLC, the Family Life Center offers doula support services. We do, however, encourage women to find the doula best for them by visiting the Doula Network of the Capital Region’s website: www.thedoulanetwork.org.

Are midwives qualified for homebirth and licensed in New York?
Midwives licensed by New York State are recognized as qualified planned homebirth providers. Licensed Midwives in New York (LMs) are independent, primary care providers who practice primary health care for women and newborns in hospitals, birth centers and home settings. They are eligible for hospital privileges, they have prescriptive privileges, they have full access to diagnostic and laboratory services, and they can bill insurance companies for their care. Betsy Mercogliano, owner of Family Life Midwifery, PLLC and longtime director of the Albany-based Family Life Center is a Licensed Midwife (LM) in New York, a nationally recognized Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) as well as a nationally recognized Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), a doula and a childbirth educator. Her assistant, Tisha Graham, is a nationally recognized Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), a licensed midwife in Vermont (LM), a Certified Doula, a Certified Childbirth Educator and a Certified Lactation Counselor. Together they provide a wide array of services to pregnant women and their families here in Saratoga Springs and throughout the Capital District. We welcome any inquiries about our services and would look forward to arranging a consultation to see how we can best meet your needs throughout your childbearing years.

What hours are we open?
Due to the nature of our work, we are open by appointment only for prenatal appointments and for free consultations.  We have classes, support groups and other special events that happen at our three locations.  Please refer to our Classes and Services pages. Please call our main number to contact us.

How do I pay for my homebirth?
Family Life Midwifery, PLLC is committed to making midwifery care accessible to all women, within parameters of safety. We have tried to make our fees and fee structure reasonable. We make every effort to access your insurance carrier if you have one. If you have insurance, we will apply for pre-authorization so that we know whether your carrier will cover your homebirth fully or partially. We ask for a deposit  by 32 weeks.  If your insurance carrier covers the global fee entirely, we will return your deposit in full at the time of receipt of payment from them. If you are in need of financial assistance, please discuss with us your needs and we will share our knowledge of auxiliary resources in the area that may assist you in meeting this financial agreement with us. Our global maternity care fee covers all prenatal visits including a home visit, care during labor and birth, initial newborn evaluation and postpartum care for you and your baby.  Additional consultations or visits as needed and unlimited phone consults are also included.

Will my insurance company pay for my homebirth?
Homebirth services are generally reimbursable by insurance. Our billing service will work with you to determine both your and your insurance carrier’s responsibility for payment. We are not in network with any insurance carrier. We cannot ensure that your insurance will cover homebirth services. Our billing service will submit all the necessary paperwork to your insurance company for pre-approval. Immediately after your birth, we will furnish our billing service with information to submit to your insurance provider for reimbursement. This is submitted after the birth in order to use the all-inclusive, global maternity care fee. You are responsible to complete any payment if there is a balance due after settlement with your insurance claim. Family Life Midwifery, PLLC, will make every effort to collect payment from your insurance but we are not responsible for any final decisions made by your insurance carrier.

What is your practice’s philosophy?
Before you choose to receive your care with us, we want you to be fully informed. We feel quality care and a trusting relationship are best ensured when educated women make decisions regarding their care based on perceived needs and the provider’s scope of practice. A system of informed disclosure and consent fosters parent responsibility and caregiver accountability. We provide education and consultation throughout the childbearing season. We assist you by sharing our knowledge and understanding of natural birth and its normal variations, as well as identifying any interference to the process. We do our best to support you as you move through this challenging transformation.

Where would our appointments take place?
We plan our appointments at the Family Life Center office that is nearest to your home.  We always make at least one visit at your home as well, in order to make sure we know where we are going when you are in labor!
How often would we have appointments?
As midwives with homebirth families, we would see you every 3 to 4 weeks until you are 28 weeks pregnant, then every 2 weeks until 36 weeks and then weekly until you are in labor.  As doulas, we see you on a similar schedule, depending on when in your pregnancy we first meet. We would see you at least 3 times prenatally, hopefully more.
When do we see you after the baby is born?
As midwives with homebirth families, we see you at a minimum of 5 times after the birth of your baby: 24 hours after birth, day 3, day 7, two or three weeks after the birth and six weeks after the birth.  All postpartum appointments are in your home except for the six-week visit, which is for closure and a postpartum physical, unless otherwise arranged.  As doulas, we see you at least 4-5 times after the birth:24 hours after birth, day 3, day 7, two or three weeks after the birth and six weeks after the birth. All postpartum appointments are in your home except for the six-week visit, which is for closure  and goodbyes, unless otherwise arranged.

Why do we work as partners?
Mostly, we enjoy working together. We bring similar yet different backgrounds, energy and experience to our work. Our support styles complement each other and we can draw on each other’s knowledge to help families in the best way we know how. We consider ourselves guides for you on this life-changing journey.

What is a Doula?
A doula is a professional who provides emotional, physical and informational support to a woman who is pregnant, in labor or who has recently given birth and to her partner.  The doula’s role is to help women have a safe, satisfying and empowering birthing and postpartum experience. We meet with families prenatally to explore birth options and learn what is important to you.  In labor, we draw upon our skills using a variety of techniques including, but not limited to, massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, positioning suggestions, and relaxation cues to help labor progress as well as possible.

What are the benefits/advantages of having a Doula?
There are many benefits and advantages to hiring a doula as part of your birth team.  Research tells us that women who have doula support experience: 50% decrease in cesarean section, 25% decrease in the length of labor, 30% decrease in the use of forceps or vacuum, 40% decrease in the use of oxytocin/pitocin, 60% decrease in the use of epidurals, 30% decrease in the use of pain medications.  In addition, long term benefits include: improved breastfeeding, decreased postpartum depression and greater maternal satisfaction.

Will a Doula take over the role of my Partner?
Our role is never to take over for the partner.  We work with them to compliment and enhance the experience as part of the birth team.  We reassure, encourage and help your partner to support you according to their comfort level. As Doulas, we can actually make the partner’s job easier, by making sure their needs are met; food, drinks, bathroom break, occasional back rubs, rest and the all important reassurance.  Many father’s or partners have never been to  or seen a birth, so having an experienced doula whom they know with them can give the partner more confidence to support the labor and experience the birth of their child.

Does a Doula provide midwifery or medical care for me or my baby?
Doulas do not provide midwifery or medical care.  We provide emotional, physical and informational support, while respecting your choices.  We also work with you to enhance your communication with your care provider.

Are Doulas only for planned natural births?
Not at all.  Doulas support all types of birth, from homebirth to planned cesareans and everything in between.  Our goal is to help you have a positive and safe birth experience.

When I am in labor, do we just meet you in our hospital if we are birthing in a hospital?
As doulas, we join you as the laboring woman either at your home or at the hospital, depending on your wishes and what is happening with your labor. Very often, we support families during active labor at home and assist them in making the decision of when to go to the hospital. We go with you at that time to the site of your birth, offering continuity of care between home and hospital.