I Didn't Choose a Hospital, I Chose a Birth CenterMonday, July 27, 2015
This whole journey of choosing a birth center started even before I wanted to be pregnant. My then boyfriend, now husband, asked me to watch a documentary called "The Business of Being Born" and with little explanation of what the documentary was about and in a eventless afternoon I decided to watch it.
"Birth: it's a miracle. A rite of passage. A natural part of life. But more than anything, birth is a business. Compelled to find answers after a disappointing birth experience with her first child, actress Ricki Lake recruits filmmaker Abby Epstein to explore the maternity care system in America. Focusing on New York City, the film reveals that there is much to distrust behind hospital doors and follows several couples who decide to give birth on their own terms. There is an unexpected turn when director Epstein not only discovers she is pregnant, but finds the life of her child on the line. Should most births should be viewed as a natural life process, or should every delivery be treated as a potential medical emergency?" - The Business of Being Born
This documentary is quite controversial and obviously like any documentary more biased towards one side, natural births, than the other, medicated hospital births. A natural birth is a birth that is done without the use of medicine, like epidural injections or pitocin, to name a few. However, instead of going into the controversial topic of what is better and what is worst, I want to share my journey with you on what a birth center is and why I decided to deliver in a birth center instead of the hospital.
The reason I mentioned this documentary is because what truly captured me about it was that I had never thought or even seen a birth to be a beautiful thing. In my mind birth was meant to be a painful, horrible experience, destined as the "curse" to women. But this documentary really made me question, is birth really supposed to be a horrible experience like I had in mind?
If birth could be a beautiful, all natural birth, I was determined to experience it.
So the moment my husband and I found out we were pregnant the first thing we researched was if our insurance covered our birth with a midwife. To our delight we realized there was a list of Certified Nurse Midwives that I could see, and so we made our first appointment, to my surprise, in the hospital. I wasn't really aware that there were midwives that worked in the hospital, so at first we were so happy that we would be able to get the best of both worlds. However, after a couple of appointments, I was a bit disappointed by the whole experience. The appointments were only a couple minutes long, with a very long waiting times, and everything was extremely cold and medical with very little life and joy. I didn't know if I had created false expectations from the documentary, but I just did not feel comfortable at the hospital or even with my midwife. I tried to convince myself that it was all in my head, but it wasn't until I tried to ask a question about birth and if I was going to be able to have a natural birth experience, that my question was quickly answered with "it's too early for you to worry about birth." That was the moment I knew that it didn't matter if I was going to have my birth with a midwife or a doctor as long as I was in this hospital that was going to be my experience and I better be okay with that.
I came home from that appointment determined to find another option. I wasn't too keen on the idea of having a birth at home, so that's when I stumbled upon birth centers. A Birth Center is a a medical facility for the labor and childbirth experience in a family-friendly, homelike environment.
Through my research I was ecstatic to find a birth center near where we live. My husband and I made a call to make our first appointment and we were told that before making an appointment we were required to attend a tour. We immediately agreed. As we arrived we were guided to a room with about six different couples sitting in for the tour. We were first introduced to the director and owner of the birth center who went through every single rule, regulation and procedure to be able to deliver at the birth center, both by the State of Florida and the Birth Center. She then explained how births were executed at the birth center and answered every single question that any of us, the attendees, had about birth, delivery, baby care and the birth center. We were then guided to tour the facilities. We were then dismissed with a hug by the receptionist. My husband and I looked at each other with a sigh of relief. This is what we had been looking for all along.
Though this may sound like the perfect scenario to some, and the most horrible to others, let me continue to give some more information for those interested.
Births at a birth center are done both vaginally and unmedicated by midwives1. Which means no epidurals, no IV, the woman is not hooked up to any monitors and is allowed to eat, drink, walk around and even have the birth in water. Not every woman is allowed to deliver in a birth center however. The birth center was very strict and clear to mention that they are not allowed to take in women who are in high-risk pregnancies, pregnant with multiples, with breech positioned babies at the time of delivery, just to name a few rules. Every woman is also required to be seen by an OBGYN to be given the okay to have an out-of-hospital delivery. I was also required by our birth center to attend birth classes, also provided by the birth center. Every birth center has its own rules and regulations depending on the owner and the state or country they are located in, just like any hospital would. Our birth center was covered by our insurance, as were the midwives as well as labs, prenatal and postnatal care. The birth center provided two types of postnatal appointments, two appointments at home to make sure both mom and baby have everything they need and are settled in and the other appointments at the birth center about two weeks after birth.
My experience with the prenatal appointments were absolutely incredible. Every appointment lasted about half-an-hour to one hour. The appointments included the normal health check, urine check, blood pressure check, fetal heartbeat, and position of the baby later in the pregnancy. As well as a run through exercise, diet, what's expected in the next appointment, as well as any concerns or normal questions for you and your partner. They also encourage family members to attend the prenatal appointments to answer any questions they may have or just for moral support. I saw three different midwives throughout my appointments, which are the midwives appointed to the team that would be on-call at the time of my delivery.
Attending the birth center has been one of the best experiences of my life, and it also has completely changed my mind about hospital births. And not in the way you may think. I became grateful for doctors and nurses that work in the maternity ward. As I became pregnant my eyes were suddenly opened to tons of women who became pregnant also, and I got to see those who have easy pregnancies as well as those who do not. Those who develop complications through their journey, and who thankfully have professionals trained to care for their well-being and their babies. Going through the birth center I became so excited and at peace with my natural birth and delivery because I knew that if by any chance through my pregnancy I developed any complications I would have to deliver at the hospital. And I am okay with that. I am thankful that I have the option to deliver naturally, without any interventions or drugs if I can, but if not I will go to the hospital and deliver there. And that gives me an immense peace.
So we'll see what my birth experience is like... Can't wait to share my birth story with you all. Prayers are always appreciated. :)
1. There are some birth centers that work directly in Hospitals where you do have the option of having a medicated birth if desired.↩
ResourcesEvery Birth Center is different and there are many different options when choosing a Birth Center.
- Find more information at www.birthcenters.org and click on the For Parents menu.
- Or I also recommend watching the Netflix series: More Business of Being Born : Birth Centers.
- The Birth Center I am currently attending is called The Hollywood Birth Center. You can find more information at http://hollywoodbirthcenter.com
- You can watch the full documentary The Business of Being Born on YouTube HERE.