Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why a Birth Center?

I've been looking at birth centers. I plan to deliver this baby at a free-standing birth center, and have been looking at my options so that I will have a little time to make my choice. If we do end up in Juneau (which is possible, although not as likely) then there is only one there, but if we do get up to Anchorage as we've planned, then I will have FOUR to choose from!! I've been talking with other women from the area and have already ruled out one of them, but the others look very appealing. I've also learned that several DEMs (direct-entry midwives--meaning they were not nurses first, but went straight to midwifery) are allowed to deliver at the birth centers. Ahh, the laws of Alaska are SO much better than the ones in Utah!

So, why a birth center? Well, I don't really believe that birth belongs in a hospital unless something has gone pretty wrong. Hospitals are for fixing problems, and birth is not typically a problem. Hospitals are also full of sick people, and I don't care what their handwashing rules are or that the really sick people are on another floor or wing, I don't think it's a very bright idea to bring a baby into the world in the middle of one of the dirtiest environments known to modern society. Yes, I did have my last baby in a hospital--there were reasons for that--but my ideal was and is a birth center, and now that we're in a place where my insurance will pay for it, that's what I am going for!

Delivering at a birth center is a lot more like delivering at home--if you have a jetted tub and someone to do all your cleanup and laundry for you at home. ☺ So why not deliver at home? Well, for one thing being at home makes my Hubby a little nervous. I was raised with it (all of my younger siblings were born at home), but if he's uncomfortable that's going to affect my emotional state too, and that's never good for labor. I confess that I really like the idea of somebody else handling all the cleanup. Also, since birth centers are designed to facilitate birth, they have the tubs and beds situated in such a way that the midwives can access the mother easily, no matter where she decides to be. (Most home bathtubs I've seen would get pretty cramped if 2 or 3 people were trying to get at them at the same time!) Many birth centers also have birth balls, birthing stools, squat bars, and other convenient tools for the laboring mother to use if she chooses. Midwives, being accustomed to undrugged mothers, also tend to have more experience with helping mothers work through labor via things like position changes, counter-pressure, and massage.
Since a birth center is all about birth, there are no sick people and I feel that makes it much safer than a hospital. On the other hand, the midwives are under an OBs supervision, and are able to administer some medications and other things which the average homebirth midwife might not. Also they have good relationships with the local hospitals and OBs, so if there were an emergency, the transfer process would likely be smoother than with a homebirth.

Honestly, as I look at these websites I keep thinking to myself "why would anyone not choose a birth center?!" I know, some people prefer home--and I do understand that. And some people prefer hospitals and their drugs...but nope, I really truly don't understand that.


(the photos are from the website of the MatSu Birth Center, which is one of the ones I'm considering)

17 comments:

Anji Gallanos said...

i had Little M in Palmer Alaska at Valley Medical Center (hospital). I loved it..my midwife was with my the whole time, it was a brand new facility at that time 6 years ago and we were the only family there for the entire time. Talk about personalized attention. The rooms were spacious and beautiful..they had a great tub in the attached bathroom. Plus it was a much closer drive. Where we lived at the time we could have driven at least 40 minutes to the nearest birth center (not reassuring).

I didn't have my guys in Juneau..so can't speak to that..but I think my experiences were much better than either choice here.

Becky N. said...

Heck, even *I* might consider a birth center over a homebirth, if I had one nice and close that looked like *that*!!!! Gorgeous and comfy, oh my!

My midwife did do most of the cleanup, though. ;) Actually, the worst part was just keeping up the uber-cleanliness I needed during those last few weeks, never knowing for sure when labor would start. And when I was feeling much too exhausted to actually do the cleaning needed. Sigh.

Will you go early to avoid being stuck in Pelican while in labor? I never could stand being strapped in a car during contractions. But going early would rule out that inconvenience as well.

Mallory said...

I am in favor of the unassisted homebirth. But, I understand that if the hubby isn't on board, that there could be better options. I just like the privacy of it. I feel like birth should be more intimate, with family. I also think that a woman should be able to act upon her own intuition. And that is HARD to do when there is someone trained there (be it a midwife or an OB).

Emily said...

A big reason to me NOT to choose a birth center, is precisely because they are under OB supervision. They are subject to protocol and liability issues, and usually have a strict set of requirements for using their services. One could be risked out of a birth center for just about anything: labor prior to 37 weeks or after 42 weeks, breech, twins, VBAC, PROM +12 hrs, etc. Birth center midwives are also under a lot of scrutiny, and are more "jumpy" IME about transfers. Birth centers are great for a perfect birth, but then, if the labor and delivery are that easy, you should just stay home.

As far as your husband being nervous about it, you should remind him you would have to transfer to the hospital from birth center, just like at home. So the "what if" factor is exactly the same.

Katrina said...

Can you explain your preference for a direct-entry midwife, versus a CNM? I had CNMs for my two births and they were wonderful and helped me so much--and they were there for almost the whole labor both times.

I have always thought birth centers would be the way to go. But, as someone whose body needs Pitocin to dilate (just like my mom's), I don't know if that will ever be an option for me, unfortunately.

Mommy Bee said...

I know that proponents of Unassisted Childbirth feel that the presence of any outsider is a detriment, but I don't feel that way. I actually feel safer knowing that someone is present who is not emotionally attached to the situation--I don't care how much we've studied and prepared, if something goes wrong neither Hubby nor I can be fully objective because it's family. That's why surgeons don't operate on family members. That's why I never want a UC.
There are perks to homebirth, and I do see those. I like a lot of things about homebirth, and it might be somewhere in my future...but not this time.

As for being in Pelican--we plan to be leaving here in just a couple of months. If we use the birth center in Juneau it will be because we are living there. :)
The standard here is that the pregnant woman goes into Juneau (or Sitka) when she's about 8m along, and then just hangs out in town until she delivers. They go to great lengths to make sure that nobody goes into labor out here.

Christa said...

jealous! I wish that we had this option here. There is only one birth center in our entire state, midwifery is illegal and so I have to go underground to have a unmedicated, birth without unnecessary interventions. Which yes scares my husband to death, but he understands the importance of bring our child/children into a safe loving environment without the complication and dagers that can be caused just by walking into the hospital. But I also know that if something happened I would go to the hospital without hesitation, because that's what they are for...but not delivering healthy babies to healthy mommies.

Future Mama said...

Hmmm, that is interesting. It looks like a nice hotel that you have a baby in. You know... you really are turning me on to this whole crunchy thing... I feel a post coming on!

Jess said...

With B... I was going to do a home birth.. even saw my mil's friend who was a midwife for the first 6-7 months... then got towards the end... and she said.. "Oh no.. its just you and your hubby in the room.. he will catch the baby and then call me in.." which freaked me out as he was not anywhere in the picture for any of the plans until that moment...(I mean he knew what I wanted to do but was not planning on playing catcher)... and so I switched last minute and had her in the hospital...still had her natural...

If I ever get prego again I will have either a home birth or at a birthing center....good luck making your choice!! =)

Mommy Bee said...

Katrina--I'll be doing a whole post on CNMs vs DEMs later this week. The short version is that I don't have a preference, but I am just glad to see them getting more equal treatment than they do in many other states.

Jess--good grief, I know a lot of couples who want the midwife in the corner or in the other room, but I can't imagine the midwife dictating that!!! I've thought that I like the idea, but only if we asked for it!

Miche said...

I would love to try a birth center, but our insurance doesn't cover it. Gosh, that looks so cozy and calming! The hospitals have annoyed me with both my births-even though I make it clear I don't want drugs because I react badly to meds and don't want to risk my children having odd reactions, they still try to push it on me! So frustrating when you are in the middle of a contraction and trying to fight the nurse on giving you a drip of something to take the edge off. I wish I could give birth in that sunny yellow room...that would be so lovely!

Mama bee said...

I'm in Utah (here from MDC), and loved my homebirth with a DEM. That DEM, coincidentally, moved here a few years ago from Alaska, and previously worked at the MatSu Birth Center! Her name is Melissa Mayo, and if the other midwives up there are as wonderful as she is, I'd go there in a heartbeat. Good luck figuring out your birthing setup!

Kelly said...

Amen Sister! You are dead on. I live in a state that does not have ANY birth centers, because of the legal environment [pro-OB lobby] and it is a rotten situation.

I hope you are able to find exactly the right birth center and that all goes well!

Mother Goose said...

i'm wondering why would you choose a center and not have a baby in your own home, with the birth mother there?? Sadly, my children were all high risk! They were all born premature and things went down hill very fast with my last child. He stayed in the ICU for 51 days and I was in the ICU for 2wks. My body just can't hold babies. but I love having children.

Petit Mouton on Etsy said...

Wow! Nice rooms!

It is an option I unfortunately do not have :-(
Here, midwives are allowed to assist births at home or in hospitals. No birth centers in my province. Had trouble convincing DH about a homebirth, it would have been much easier for a birth centre.
Although, I am not too sure that I’d want to drive anywhere during this labour unless really having to have a transfer for medical reason...

Good luck though. It sounds like you will have great care!

Cat said...

I am so jealous those are absolutly beautiful rooms!! they look amazingly comfortable!

Jessica said...

I'm so excited for you!! I chose my birth center for the same reasons you are choosing a birth center - and I've never looked forward to labor more! (That, and my midwife this time is awesome!)

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