The first baby at the Good Life Birth Place may be born in a frilly princess bedroom, called the Cottonwood, with the white bed frame and bedspread and lavender walls.

Or in the edgier Cornhusker room, with a big, red plastic ball sitting atop the Waterbirth International tub.

Or in the posh Lincoln room, with its ornate four-poster bed.

Women are different. Some are soft and frilly. Others are more modern. Some are Husker fans, says midwife Karen McGivney-Liechti, who helped pick out the design detail for the state’s only freestanding birth center, run by midwives.

The newly remodeled clinic, at 8020 O Street, opened in early July, but had to bring in additional midwives, train nurses and get insurance companies on board before providing delivery services, said McGivney-Liechti. 

The clinic's four midwives provide services for all women, but the clinic is particularly equipped for expectant mothers.

The decorating details at the clinic are part of the more homey atmosphere and part of the philosophy of creating a calm, natural setting for giving birth.

In the waiting room there is essential oil defusing, relaxing music playing, and tea, coffee and water sitting atop McGivney-Liechti’s great-grandfather’s dresser.

There’s reclaimed wood on the walls, honoring Nebraska's heritage. But because it's a woman’s place, there is also just a little bit of bling on the walls, says McGivney-Liechti, pointing to strips of crystal tiles.

The clinic backs up to a small city park, where children awaiting the birth of a sibling can swing, or women in labor can walk on the trail during warmer weather.

“It looks and feels like home,” says McGivney-Liechti.

There are no stirrups, no hospital beds, and no special medical equipment in the birthing rooms unless they're needed.

It is not exactly a home and it is not a hospital. It's in between, said McGivney-Liechti.

The women will give birth where they want — in the water tub, on the side in the bed, on their hands and knees on the floor.

Women and babies will generally stay six hours after delivery, sometimes as many as 12, with follow-up visits to their pediatrician and the clinic within a day or two after giving birth.

Not every woman wants or will qualify medically to give birth in the freestanding center. The center is for low-risk deliveries. For example, you can’t have high blood pressure, be carrying twins or have diabetes.

Probably about 50 percent of the clinic’s patients will give birth at the Good Life Birth Place and the other half will give birth at a hospital, with a midwife present, said McGivney-Liechti.

And for that rare occasion when a woman needs more medical services, CHI Health St. Elizabeth is just a few blocks away, she said.

“We normalize birth. Midwife means with women. We journey with her,” she said.

The center will not be staffed 24 hours a day, like a hospital, but a midwife and nurse will be at the center for every birth.

The state’s first freestanding birth center, the Midwife’s Place in Bellevue, closed in June

The Good Life Birth Place is affiliated with the Physicians Network — part of CHI Health, a regional health system. The health system also includes CHI Health St. Elizabeth.

The midwives are overseen by the independent Lincoln OB-GYN, under the state requirement that midwives be affiliated with medical doctors.

Nebraska has some of the strictest midwife requirements in the country. The state does not allow midwives to help at at-home deliveries and they must have written agreements with supervising physicians.

Because of the different staffing and equipment requirements, giving birth at a freestanding birth center costs less than a hospital delivery.

The Physicians Network could not provide specific costs, but Barbara Brower, with the network, said it generally costs at least 50 to 65 percent less to use a birth center.

“Birth centers have good outcomes, cost less and women like it,” said McGivney-Liechti.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.

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Reporter

Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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