Matt and I have been tossing around the idea of trying for a baby at some point, and considering my complete objection to a hospital birth unless something dire were to happen, we’ve been researching other options. I’m most partial to a homebirth, but I’ve found it rather difficult to find a homebirth midwife in my area, so we’ve been searching around for birth centers.
One of them is about 30 minutes from our house: Special Beginnings in Arnold. We learned that they had guided Motherhood Experience tours, so we decided, well… why not! Better to plan now than later, right?
Our tour was at 7pm, and we thought we would be the only ones there. To our surprise, the waiting room (then the classroom) was packed! Most were already expecting, but Matt and I were there just to explore our options. A bit after 7pm, a nurse midwife, David, came in and talked to us a bit about what the birth center does, his philosophies on pregnancy and birth, and how “labor day” would go.
I should probably warn you right now — as if you didn’t already know! — that I’m a rather crunchy person, especially when it comes to labor and childbirth. I’m pro-natural birth, pro-breastfeeding, pro-homebirth, pro-birth center, pro-cloth diapering, pro-attachment parenting, pro-cosleeping… pretty much the whole nine yards.
But these are my decisions, and I would never, ever say that my decisions are any better than or superior to those of another woman. Like in many other ways, I’m pro-empowerment, so whatever way you want to do it, I’m absolutely down for that.
Anyway! Down off my soapbox and back to the babies!
That all being said, I really appreciated what David was saying and how the birth center operates. They encourage laboring at home until contractions are about 5 minutes apart for an hour, then have you(r partner!) drive to the center. There, you’re greeted at the door and led to one of three birthing rooms of your choosing, which are all done up to look like actual bedrooms instead of hospital rooms. Baby blankets are warmed, tubs are filled if wanted, and you can bring your own music, food, and other stuff to make yourself comfortable while there.
Then… the fun starts! They have several options for laboring, from birthing tubs to jacuzzis, birthing stools to balls, and of course, a bed (that doesn’t come apart! It’s an actual bed!) at your disposal. You can labor as long as you need, cervical checks are rare, and a midwife will come in every 30 minutes or so to check on the baby’s heart rate with a doppler. Otherwise, you’re pretty much left alone.
They hold very strong stances on skin-to-skin, not taking the baby away from the momma for at least two hours, breastfeeding, and other “crunchy” stuff… all of which I absolutely want to achieve with our eventual baby. I also really loved his demeanor — I would not be at all disappointed if David one day ended up being my midwife!
And of course, they’re not even 5 minutes away from Anne Arundel Medical Center, so if anything does go wrong (and it very rarely does in the case of low-risk pregnancies), they’re just a short drive away.
AAMC, by the way, has some abysmal cesarean rates for 2008-2009: 38.4%! While not the worst in Maryland — that honor goes to GBMC with 44.8% in 2008-2009 — it’s ridiculous compared to the birth center, which has a very low rate of emergency cesareans: “Extremely rare” according to their website, and 8% according to David.
That is one of the main reasons why I don’t want to go to a hospital. Aside from the whole “I fucking hate hospitals” thing, I’m incredibly nervous about interventions of any and every sort. That nervousness would turn into anxiety, which is very likely to turn into a panic attack… so if I can avoid that, then that’s obviously for the better!
Not to mention that cesareans are major abdominal surgery, and it would only be a consideration for me in case of an emergency (and I’m not stupid — it IS on the table, but only in that situation). That plus the facts that cesareans are on the rise and that one in three babies are already delivered via cesarean, makes me incredibly wary of hospitals.
I wouldn’t be sick, yo.
Oh god, more soapboxing! ANYWAY.
We ended up learning a lot from that one visit, and the brief tour we had also made me think that it might not be so bad to give birth there after all. I mean, I would strongly prefer at home over every other option, and I’m going to continue searching for a midwife in the area who will do a homebirth… but if it came down to a birth center? I’d actually clamor for Special Beginnings.
Oh, and why the hell not.