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The State’s First and Only Birth Center Seeks to Offer High Quality Care to All Women

Appletree Midwifery & Birth Center
Chelsea Iverson and Cassie Applegate at the Appletree Midwifery & Birth Center.

The state’s first and only birth center is now open in Rapid City. It offers resources and care for women through all stages of pregnancy, including postpartum care. 

The goal of the new center is to offer women and families more options when it comes to giving birth.  

Co-owner Cassie Applegate is a certified nurse and midwife.  She says they will respect and honor all patients.  

“I think the birth center environment does allow for freedom of how they want to give birth, freedom of who's present at their birth,” she said. “And I think that most families do want a little bit more autonomy in that and I think that birth center does provide that.” 

Applegate says the safest place to give birth is at a hospital or accredited birth center.  

“Birth centers have outstanding outcomes as far as client satisfaction, reduced Caesarean sections, higher breastfeeding rates. Especially in this area, we felt like that was a service that we could offer and provide to our community.” 

The infant mortality rate for South Dakota was 6.7 per 1,000 births in 2019. But for Native Americans that number jumps to 8.9.  

“Specifically, for Native American women, the rate of maternal mortality and infant mortality is atrocious in our state. And it really does point to nothing other than racism in health care. So, I think where we could help change that is to provide high quality care for all women.”   

Contributing factors for medical complications include tobacco use, alcohol, lack of access to health services, and inadequate medical care. However, the majority of deaths for all infants are sleep related—such as infants sleeping in an adult bed.      

Applegate says she hopes the new Rapid City facility will inspire other birth centers in the state.   

This story was written with reporting assistance from SDPB's Lee Strubinger.