A Mom’s Guide to Jacksonville Birthing Centers

My first birth took place in the same place most births do. Hospital room, surrounded by my awesome husband, very sweet nurses and a competent, caring doctor who delivered my baby with expert hands. Alice and I were both healthy and happy, and I got to spend the next two days being cared for by some of the most wonderful caregivers on the planet (seriously Baptist South. Your nurses are the bomb. Da bomb? Do people say that anymore?)


When we learned we were expecting a second child, my husband and I really felt that we didn’t want to go back to the hospital. As great as my doctors were, it was always hard not to feel like one patient in a herd of hundreds. The requirements of hospital birth, like being strapped to a monitor, a HepLock, and the constant cervical checks, just weren’t for me. Being at the hospital made me anxious, and it was hard not to feel like I was more a passive observer than the one actually delivering the baby.

Photo Credit: Krystal at West House Photography
Photo Credit: Krystal at West House Photography

After a lot of thought and prayer, we made a decision. Our second baby would be delivered by…DUN DUN DUN OMINOUS MUSIC…a midwife.

I’m not alone, either. According to an article in Time magazine, midwives are catching about 12% of vaginally-birthed babies in America, and birth center births have increased by 21%.

With so many women leaving the hospital for the birth center, what’s a Jacksonville mom to do? Guess what? I’m gonna tell ya!

Jacksonville and St. Augustine are home to three freestanding birth centers, which is huge, considering that the American Association of Birth Centers only counts 248 freestanding centers in the entire country.

Birthing Centers in Jacksonville & St Augustine

Fruitful Vine was here first, and is celebrating its fifteenth year catching babies. They boast a staff of four midwives, one of them, Cindy Williams, with delivery privileges at Shands Hospital. So, if you love the idea of the individualized care of a midwife, but aren’t sold on the idea of out-of-hospital birth, this may be your place. It’s especially good for mamas who have had a previous cesarean and aren’t comfortable giving birth at home (VBACs aren’t allowed at birth centers in Florida).

Birth Center of Jacksonville hangs out in the middle of Riverside, and has been there since January of this year. Their midwives, Hope and Shea, have been catching babies for years and their front desk assistant, Cecilia, is one of the most passionate birth advocates in the Jacksonville area. I had the privilege of being a student of hers when I was pregnant with my first child, and there is no one I know that knows how to empower an expectant mother quite the way Cee does. For the mama who likes to get up and move through her labor, this is a perfect spot. Their Facebook page showcases pictures of moms laboring in Riverside Park, just across the street, or standing on the front sidewalk, hoola-hooping through contractions.

Ok, so I saved my personal favorite for last. These are the women who delivered my second daughter, so I’m a little biased. Or a lot biased. Super biased.

Growing Families Birth Center is in St. Augustine, but services the entire Jacksonville area. They have two midwives, Misti and Zoey, as well as a chiropractor who visits the center weekly to adjust the women under their care. The atmosphere in the office is warm and comforting, and the care feels less like sitting in a medical office and more like chatting with your really, really well informed best friend. I had great doctors the first time, but I’ll tell you now, I never had a forty five minute appointment with them, and certainly not as much laughter.

Photo Credit: Krystal at West House Photography
Photo Credit: Krystal at West House Photography

My midwife attended birth was the most empowering, amazing thing I have ever done, and the care I received was so compassionate and loving. I was able to labor without fear of intervention, with women who trusted that my body knew what it was doing.

The way in which a woman births is a choice only she can make, and the right choice is different for every woman, and it’s important to note that midwives only take on low-risk patients. But if you are expecting, and the idea of hospital birth makes you cringe a little in anxiety or fear or just in plain old “don’t wanna,” give some of these ladies a call.

Have you delivered at any of these birthing centers? Please share your experience!


Rhyannon YatesRhyannon Yates is a transplant to Jacksonville from the sunny shores of California. She’s lived and taught in Jacksonville since 2003. These days she’s a stay at home wife and mom, trying to balance marriage and motherhood with a writing career and home-preschool. When she’s not busy wife-ing and mom-ing, you can find her at her blog, Grilled Cheese and Applesauce.


  1. Thanks for writing this Rhyannon! Cecilia was my Bradley instructor too. I’ve had two wonderful CNM births here in VA. It looks at though we’re moving back to FL and I’m researching birth options there. I wish that more birth centers would except tricare and other insurances.

    • So do I! Tricare is funny, in that it isn’t required to cover midwife services the way Florida insurance is. Hmmm…You know what you might check out? Fruitful Vine has a CNM named Cindy who does deliveries at Shands. You MIGHT be able to talk Tricare into covering a birth with her.

  2. This is such a great resource. I had my youngest 21 years ago with a home midwife from St Augustine. Tina D, not sure where she is, but that experience was wonderful. Now that “BABY” is expecting his 1st child, well, his girlfriend is. Now we are looking into the same options. Thank you for the informaion

  3. This would be a great thing to update now that UF Health North has their birth center open. I am looking for peoples stories/reviews on them and am having little luck since they’ve only been open for so long. But their Facebook page has an all 5 star rating. They look amazing, so I’d like to hear if they operate as great too!

  4. Thank you for the blog post! We are currently so excited and looking for a midwife ourselves. I read the statement in your blog “after a lot of thought and prayer” and I thought maybe I could ask you, we are christian and would love a midwife with similar beliefs to care for our baby. I figured that is not something they normally prioritize about putting on their prophiles so to your knowledge are there any christian midwives you would recommend in jacksonville?

  5. Thank you for sharing your amazing experience! I have a question and I’m not sure if you can point me in the right direction or not. I’ve have been seriously looking into having my 2nd child at a birthing center but have concerns if complications happen what would happen? I didn’t have the best experience at the hospital with my 1st child and really don’t want to have another there. Can anyone help point me in the direction on who would be able to answer any questions and concerns.

  6. I just found out that I am pregnant and have to make the decision… I have always felt like a midwife was the right option for me and after reading these posts, I feel so confident that I am making the right decision.

    Thank you all for sharing your experiences!


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