The closing of Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital’s labor and delivery unit on July 1, 2009, effectively left mothers-to-be with only two options for where to give birth: Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital or home. The Santa Barbara Birth Center plans to rectify that choice of extremes.

The mission of the SBBC is to “offer complete midwifery care to all women with low-risk pregnancies, regardless of their ability to pay, who seek a safe alternative to birth in the hospital,” said Laurel Phillips, founder and executive director of the Birth Center. “The Birth Center will be medically equipped for birth and safely located within blocks of Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, which is known for its High Risk Obstetrical Unit and Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit,” Phillips said.

Having worked in Santa Barbara as a doula for more than 12 years, Phillips has often heard lamentations regarding the lack of a birth center here. “Many women who are not quite comfortable with the idea of a home birth still long to birth in a home-like setting with consistent midwifery care, close to the hospital,” explained Phillips. “Free-standing birth centers exist across the country and throughout Europe and have excellent statistics in terms of outcomes and client satisfaction. It’s time that Santa Barbara had its own birth center.”

The Birth Center, a non-profit organization, was recently awarded a $10,000 grant toward start-up costs and initial operations by the FUND for Santa Barbara, according to Phillips. They also received a matching grant from the WWW Foundation; a $100,000 challenge grant from the James S. Bower Foundation has also been offered.

The Birth Center needs still more funds to become a reality, as planned, by fall of 2010. The Center is holding a fundraising event Sunday, December 13, 3-5 p.m., at Santa Barbara Yoga Center, 32 E. Micheltorena St., 965-6045. There will be food, music, and a slideshow. For more information on the S.B. Birth Center, contact Laurel Phillips at 689-5611,, or visit


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