Chicago Southside Birth Center

upright baby fist

The Problems

    • Cook County overall has an infant mortality rate of 6.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.
    • Calumet Heights neighborhood (where Advocate Trinity closed its OB unit in the Spring to make space for COVID patients and re-opened this Fall ) has an infant mortality rate of 22.3 per 1,000 live births.   
    • Several other Southside neighborhoods —  Englewood, Washington Park, Greater Grand Crossing, and South Shore also have infant mortality rates at 13 or above, over twice the Cook County average.  
    • By contrast, the U.S. infant mortality rate is 5.7 per 1,000 live births. 
    • Non-Hispanic Black women in Chicago have the highest rates of severe maternal morbidity, 120.8 per 10,000 deliveries, versus 46.9 for white women and 60.0 for  Hispanic women.   
    • Despite having similar birth rates, non-Hispanic Black women die during or within one year of pregnancy nearly six times more often than non-Hispanic White women; Latina women were twice as likely to die.


      • Women living in neighborhoods with greater economic hardship are disproportionately affected by severe maternal morbidity and pregnancy-associated mortality.   
      • Currently, only four hospitals on the South Side provide maternity services and Mercy Hospital, which last year delivered more than 900 babies, is planning to close in the first half of 2021. That leaves the University of Chicago, Roseland Hospital, and  Trinity Hospital in the corridor east of Highway 90/94.


Our Idea

  • The Chicago South Side Birth Center will help address the disparities and inequities in maternal and infant outcomes in Chicago from before the time a person gets pregnant. 
    • The Chicago South Side Birth Center will offer people with low-risk pregnancies the opportunity to labor and deliver their babies in a beautiful, non-hospital setting under the care of both out-of hospital and hospital-trained midwives.  
    • In addition, the birth center will provide full-spectrum, evidenced-based gynecologic, family planning, and postpartum care following the Midwifery Care Model
    • We hope to serve 800 new patients per year and provide care for between 100 and 150 births.
    • Our aim is to improve the health of pregnant people and babies on the South Side of Chicago by
      • improving access to care
      • promoting low-intervention births
      • providing culturally-sensitive care
      • honoring clients as partners in their own health


If you are a state or local legislator: 

  • Currently, Illinois Birth Center legislation allows for four Birth Centers–of which, one a Federally Qualified Health Center affiliated birth center and one hospital-owned and operated birth center within the combined counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will.  We need to change this law to allow us to provide the care that women on the south side of Chicago so desperately need!  

If you are a member of the public: 

  • Contact your state or local rep and urge them to change the law to allow a second Federally Qualified Health Center for the Southside of Chicago!  

Other ways to help:

  • Help us raise money to cover our estimated $2.5 million start-up costs 
  • Join our community advisory group 
  • Offer legal, fundraising, and/or development assistance
  • Provide a Letter of Support 


Chicago Southside Birth Center
Karie Stewart, left, a midwife at the University of Chicago Medical Center, and Jeanine Valrie Logan, a midwife at PCC Wellness, plan to open a birth center on the South Side. The two women stand in front of a Save-A-Lot that they hope is the site of the new center. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

Women Have Few Options For Giving Birth On The South Side. 2 Midwives Want To Change That.

Facing a hospital closure on Chicago’s South Side next year in the middle of a pandemic, two midwives are hoping to fill part of the void for mothers-to-be.

They want to open a freestanding birth center, where women could deliver their children in a full-size bed at a place that feels like their home — not inside a hospital. Birth centers are small facilities, with usually just a few beds.

The initiative is ambitious. It took at least 20 years of advocacy to make freestanding birth centers legal in Illinois in 2008, but there are still bureaucratic and financial barriers to opening them here. So far there are just two centers open in the entire state, and none are in Chicago.

But two midwives behind the latest effort — Jeanine Valrie Logan and Karie Stewart – say it’s necessary for women to have another option, especially given the expected closure of Mercy Hospital in Bronzeville in 2021. Mercy is just one of a few options for pregnant women on the South Side.

Read More….

Midwife Karie Stewart, left, visits Stephanie Ivey and her 1-month-old daughter, Maliani, at her home in Chicago on Aug. 27, 2020. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune)

Chicago still doesn’t have standalone birthing centers, even as options for pregnant women on the South and West sides are dwindling

Nina-Marie Rueda delivered her first child at a hospital. During her second pregnancy, she knew she wanted a more intimate setting.

She chose a standalone birthing center.

She just hoped her labor wouldn’t be during rush hour. At the time, in 2015, she worked in North Lawndale and would have to travel to Berwyn to give birth.

“It was a 25-minute drive without traffic,” said Rueda, a doula who now lives in Little Village. She gave birth to her second and third children at the birthing center.

Considered a low-cost and safe alternative to traditional hospital labor and delivery wards, standalone birthing centers offer prenatal care and services for low-risk births. But there are none in Chicago, despite the need for more labor and delivery options on the city’s South and West sides.

A 2007 Illinois law authorized up to 10 birthing centers in the state. More than a decade later, just two exist. The Birth Center at PCC Community Wellness Center in Berwyn, where Rueda delivered her second and third children, opened in 2014. Overall, PCC had 1,080 deliveries last year; in fiscal year 2020, the Birth Center had 57 births. The other, the Birth Center of Bloomington-Normal, which opened in 2016, had 105 births in 2019. The group that operates the Bloomington-Normal center is hoping to open another in Burr Ridge this year, as well as a proposed location in North Center, which would be the Chicago’s first.

Read More….


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