Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Birthing Center

18 weeks tomorrow and I cannot believe it is July 22! Where is summer going? My pregnancy is flying by and I am almost at the halfway point. My next, and likely last, OB appointment is Monday morning.

Sean and I have made the decision to switch to a midwifery group in our area. We came to this conclusion after examining several factors. First, my OB is 45 min away and delivers at a hospital 1 hr away. The midwives are 10min away and give you the option to deliver at their birthing center or at a hospital which is 15min away from our home. Second, I get the vibe from my OB practice that they would not 100% respect my plan for a natural birth. At our very first appt, I asked about their views and the doc told me, "It's your choice, but just know that epidurals were invented by women for women. If you want to be in pain, I don't really care." Not exactly the level of support I was hoping for. They also deliver at a hospital that has one of the highest C-section rates in our area and has the reputation of being the place to go if you are "too posh to push." Finally, while most of our appts have been ok, I just don't feel a level of personal care from the group. At the midwifery group, I feel like you become part of a family, which is what I loved so much about my RE's practice.

At this point, I feel like it is time for a disclaimer. Birthing a child is a very personal decision and people have very strong feelings regarding the process. I am simply sharing my experiences and impressions. I am by no means trying to preach to anyone or convince anyone that my choice is the better one or pass judgement on one birth choice over another. I respect your childbirth choices and hope that you will respect mine.

Ever since I was a young woman, I have always desired a natural birth experience. Going through invasive fertility treatments only strengthened my desire to do so. My mom had me naturally, I have a sister in law who had an amazing home birth, and I feel like I have been exposed to many positive birth stories that have further convinced me that this is what I want. Since starting my 2nd trimester I have begun to read and research my options regarding natural childbirth. I read Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth and although I found it a little difficult to relate to some of the birth stories in the beginning, the book really spoke to me and I learned a lot. In case you are wondering, my issue with some of the birth stories in the beginning is that I do not live on a commune and I didn't feel it was an accurate representation of how the modern woman in 2009 has a natural childbirth. Inspiring? Absolutely. In addition to the book, I joined a natural birth group online and began reading natural birth stories. All of this convinced me that I needed to explore options other than my OB's office, which led me to discover the midwives and their birthing center.

Sean & I toured the birthing center on Monday night and loved it. I wasn't sure how Sean felt going into it; I kinda thought he might just be humoring me, but in the end, he was 100% on board. There were 12 couples touring and that was exciting to me. One of the midwives spoke to us for over and hour and then opened the floor to questions before we toured the center. There are 3 midwives and an OB on staff and they are affiliated with our local hospital. Patients have a few options when they choose to become a patient of the practice. As long as you have a routine pregnancy, you can choose to deliver at the birthing center with the midwives. If it is more within your comfort level, you can deliver at the local hospital with the midwives. If you choose a hospital delivery, your midwife will stay by your side the entire time and work within hospital policies to accommodate your birth plan. The final possibility is if you are high risk in any way, you must deliver at the hospital. Again, your midwife will be at your side and help you achieve your goals and still have your high risk condition monitored in a hospital environment.

Ideally, as long as I continue to have a healthy, low risk pregnancy we would like to deliver at the birthing center, but I still have to sit down one on one with the midwives and make sure this is our best option.

Here are some highlights from our tour:
  • There are 3 birthing suites that look just like a master bedroom.
  • Each suite has a water birthing jacuzzi tub. YAY!
  • There is a full kitchen and there are no restrictions on mom being able to eat or drink during labor.
  • Mom is not required to have an IV during labor, but they are available in the event of dehydration.
  • No artificial means of induction (no pitocin, cytotec, cervadil etc...)
  • They will not rupture membranes.
  • Fetal monitoring only done with a doppler so Mom has full range of motion.
  • No time limit on labor.
  • Birthing chair, stool and ball available in each suite.
  • Fully equipped for emergencies (resuscitation equipment, oxygen, anti-hemorrhage meds etc...)
  • Right next to a fire station and an 8 min. ambulance ride to the hospital in the event of an emergency.
  • C-section rate of 8%, compared to 49% in the local hospital.
  • Episiotomies performed rarely - once or twice per year or less - compared to 79% of all vaginal deliveries at the local hospital.
  • Cord is allowed to pulsate for 5 min. before cutting.
  • Baby is not removed from Mom until Mom is ready - most babies bond with mom and dad for about 2 hours before they are removed in anyway.
  • You can go home within 4hrs of delivery if you have showered, peed and eaten.
  • No limit on the number of family and friends that can be present.
  • You can change your mind and head to the hospital at any point.
Overall, we felt their philosophy matched up well with ours. Whether we deliver in the birthing center or at the hospital, I believe we will have an experience that we will be happy with. I am not naive enough to believe that complications cannot arise, but I feel 100% comfortable and confident that we will be in good hands.

If you have had a natural birth or a birthing center delivery, I would love to hear more about your experiences!


my3sons said...

I have not had a natural childbirth. I think this place sounds amazing though. You get the best of everthing it seems. If there are any complications then you will be taken care of. It would make me nervous to deliver at home, but this sounds really good! Good luck!

Leigh said...

Hi Emily, I am a longtime lurker coming out of hiding!

I have to say that I'm so jealous of your decision. That birthing center sounds amazing and ideal. You might wonder why, if I like the idea so much, am I not doing it for myself? And I guess the answer is I don't have the b*lls to tell my very worry-wart, ultra-conservative, big into medicine and sterile environments in-laws that I'd like to try something like this....

I'm hoping to get by with minimal drugs during this delivery, but maybe, if I grow a backbone, when number two rolls around I'll make a different decision.

Question for you: how do you find out all those stats about your local hospital?

Becks said...

Hi! I'm also a lurker coming out of hiding :)

Good for you! I wanted to have a natural birth SO MUCH, it just wasn't in the cards for me (high risk-pregnancy, pre-eclampsia, emergency c-section blah blah blah). But YAY YOU!

Also, don't feel like you have to defend your decisions to anyone. YOU are the mom, and you get to decide. If people have a problem with your parenting decisions, you can feel free to politely tell them to buzz off. The advice giving/parenting critiquing only increases once the baby is born, so get in the habit of not having to justify yourself now. It makes everything a lot easier! I even had to write my mother-in-law a polite e-mail to tell her that my decision to breast-feed was my decision, and none of her business.

Anyway, natural birth is the wave of the future - even Dooce is on the bandwagon!

Carrie said...

It sounds like you are so thrilled with your decision. It sounds AMAZING! I am so glad you guys did all your research and are happy with it... I am sure you will have an awesome experience.

YAY for 18 weeks! The time is flying... (how come it seems so slow for my pregnancy?) and I am overjoyed for you.

Big, huge hugs!

Jill M. said...

Thanks for sharing, I've always been interested in birthing centers. What I like is that they don't force a c-section just because your labor is longer and keeping their room occupied. Also that being in a hospital bed goes against gravity and prolongs labor.

I agree, this place does sound amazing. Best of luck to you!

stillhopeful said...

Great information!! That really does sound like an interesting and very warm approach to childbirth. Personally, I'm terrified of natural and am definitely getting the epidural (probably as a result of seeing my mom after giving birth to my brother naturally when I was 10 - not a very smooth birth at all!), but it sounds like a great environment to give birth in. Good for you!!! :)

Meant to be a mom said...

first of all I know what you mean about having your feelings about how you want your birth to go. And it sounds like the midwife is a great idea for you. You should do what you want like you said as long as the pregnancy is going well.
I on the other hand have always known I will need help. Its not that I'm lazy or don't care. I think I'm terrified of the pain. So I opted for the meds which I feel is right for me. I'm really interested in hearing your birth story though. I think its very strong and great of you to experience it fully with no meds.
I'm excited to here about your experience.

mummydr said...

Another lurker coming out! I have had one of each delivery and would pick the natural every time. My first was an induced labour for pre-e and was a disaster from the start. My second was natural and a perfect experience. I hope it all works out for you.

Our Family Blog said...

I wish I had been able to have this kind of birth experience. I may have not told you this but I had a doula hired and was hoping to do a natural birth with Blair. When finding out her medical issues, this was not an option and I had an emergency c-section. Unfortunately, I am too high risk this time around to do this!

I hope to hear all the good details when baby Ralphie does arrive if this is the way he or she chooses to enter the world!

The Nanny said...

Yet another lurker delurking :)

I just have to say--this post was AMAZING!!! First of all, your birthing philosophies are fabulous :) Second of all, that birthing center sounds phenomenal!

Good luck to you!!! :)

sweetpeanme said...

Wow...that birthing center sounds great! Sounds like it would be a wonderful place to bring a child into the world...and I love that you can leave after four hours if you've peed...not sure how hard that would be after pushing a baby out though!

Barefoot said...

Hooray for 18 weeks! Sounds like you guys had an amazing birthing center experience. We're still figuring it all out, and I have to admit I've been a bit of a wuss about reading up on the issues. :)

Anonymous said...

Sweet! My sister had a natural delivery and she loved it.

Sky said...

You do whatever you think is right for you! I admire your courage, truly.

I have a couple of friends who'd chosen natural birthing centers and their experiences scared the life out of me. Give me drugs and comfort and every single modern technological machine known to man. I got pregnant thanks to state-of-the-art technology and I'm going to ride that same train all the way! I'm chicken sh*t! :)

Tristan said...

I found your blog through "bella and her fella"

I wish I had your strength to do a natural birth :)

Congrats on your pregnancy...week 18 wow :)

Lyryn said...

Came across you blog! Very interesting! Enjoying reading about your journey!

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bella1021 said...

I can't believe how fast this is going either!! (19weeks on sat)
I would love it if we had a birthing center close to us.. but we are smack dab in the middle of a rural area..I finally talk DH into a doula(now if one would just return my inquires- that would be helpful!!) I want to be as natural as I can (I had a lumbar puncture a few years ago and don't really want an epidural AT ALL!!)

Good luck!! keep us posted ;)

Lorza said...

YEAH for you for making the BEST choice for you. I believe that when you are at ease things go that much easier. I think that the set up they have there at the Birthing Center is wonderful! If anything (GOD FORBID) were to happen-sounds like they would have it under control.

Good luck my dear!! I am excited for you, and can't wait to read about your MANY MORE WEEKS!!!

Just Another Infertile said...

I'm so glad you found a birthing center you are comfortable with and one that is in tune with your beliefs. For some reason I feel I will need many interventions. I'm not sure why. I think it comes from the fact that it took so many interventions to get her in there that it will probably take just as many to get her out. It's an IF thing I'm sure.

You are already so prepared and organized. That's great!

Molly said...

Another natural birthing momma here... I'm incredibly jealous of that birthing center. My OB and hospital sounds like the one you are trying to avoid. I still had my natural birth, but had to fight for it. Crazy, huh?

Good for you for educating yourself and knowing your options. I wish there were more moms like you!

amyoliver said...

I had two natural deliveries (first in a hospital, second at home), and you can totally do it!! The birth centre sounds like the right place, and you are smart to look at the stats from your hospital. It sounds really corny, but I felt really empowered by my second delivery, like I could do anything if I had just done that! And it is great that you have the hospital near by in the unlikely event of the need of a medical intervention.