When I first became pregnant I went the route that most moms do – they call their OB/GYN and schedule an appointment to confirm the pregnancy and begin routine prenatal care. From my first appointment at my OB/GYN’s office to confirm the pregnancy I felt that something was off. I had taken two pregnancy tests at home, one was positive and one negative, so I was really looking forward to getting the confirmation from the nurse practitioner at our first appointment. Instead of a smile and congratulations, the nurse practitioner walked in with her head down at her paperwork and didn’t even confirm the pregnancy, instead started asking me questions about my medical history like it was the 20th appointment she had that day. I had to stop her and ask – wait, am I really pregnant!?. She looked up at me, rolled her eyes, and said “well yes, of course, that’s why we’re here” in a snooty tone that I will never forget.
I thought maybe she was having a bad day so I gave the typical OB/GYN care another few appointments, thinking and hoping things would get better and I would have a more personal experience met with empathy and excitement. However, nothing changed and I was met with cold responses, eye rolls and scoffs. At our next appointment, I asked about doing a water birth and a medication-free childbirth, which again, was met with a scoff and she replied in a rude tone “no one does those”. I left the appointment feeling like the birth experience I had dreamed of was never going to happen and I was going to have to succumb to delivering my baby with these cold nurses, would have never actually met my OB until my delivery and just overall hate the experience.
After doing some research I came across a local birthing center that was run by certified midwives, had birthing tubs, a shower and all of the medical training and necessities to deliver our baby. I set up an appointment right away and was giddy with excitement to meet the midwives and tour the birth center to see what it was like. As soon as we walked in the doors of the birthing center we were greeted with smiling faces, free snacks, and the overall energy of the birth center felt completely different than my previous experience at the OB/GYN’s office. I brought a long list of 20+ questions and the midwife was so patient in answering all of my questions, even if they felt silly to me. She didn’t roll her eyes once and was very reassuring and knowledgeable with the birthing experience, pain management, and evidence-based care. I went from feeling hopeless and begrudgingly accepting a hospital birth to excited about having the dream birthing experience that I had always wanted.
There are a few main reasons why I chose a birthing center over a hospital birth and I know some mamas out there are considering this option too, so here were my deciding factors.
I wanted a birthing experience that felt more personal
I knew that at a hospital birth I wouldn’t know who my nurses were going to be and I couldn’t even meet my OB until I was literally in labor. That felt so impersonal to me. I chose a birthing center because I’ve met with all of the midwives already, they know me by name, they know my birthing plan, the relationship I have with my husband, the fears I have and how to work with my personality. To walk into the doors of my birthing center and for not only myself but also my husband to be greeted by name (without looking at my paperwork each time) means so much to me. They remember details of our life, ask us questions about our dogs, jobs etc and truly care about my overall well being. I never felt this at the OB/GYN office and is one of the main reasons why I chose a birthing center over hospital birth.
I wanted the option to birth in the water
In college, my minor was in Family and Human Development and I took many courses on childbirth and prenatal care. I knew that I didn’t want to be strapped down to a hospital bed lying down and unable to move during my labor. Having a water birth can provide ease of movement for myself and also a less traumatic experience for my daughter when she is born since she’s been floating in amniotic fluid for the past 9 months! I have always felt peace when I’ve been in the water and knew that I wanted a water birth ever since I was in college. The birthing center not only has tubs that I can birth in but also a shower if I choose to sit on a birthing ball or deliver in the shower (yes, that can happen!).
I wanted a no pressure birth plan
Having uninterrupted skin to skin contact during the first hour or so after my daughter is delivered, no vitamin k shot and no eye goop is also very important to me. Most hospitals want to take your baby away and do their routine procedures without allowing mother and baby to bond during the first moments of being born. When I was discussing this at my original OB/GYN’s office I was met with resistance and told that wouldn’t happen. When discussing this with my birth center, they let me know they could get all of her vitals while she’s on my chest and that they prefer to leave mom, dad, and baby alone after they’ve confirmed everything is OK with the baby for a good amount of time to allow for bonding after labor. When I told them about my choices for no eye goop or vitamin k shot, they simply said no problem and made note of it on my file. I wasn’t judged or questioned, but they listened and understood my requests. Not being guilted or questioned about my decisions as a new mom has made me feel empowered, strong and confident about being a new mom.
A birth center delivery may not be for everyone, but it is the right decision for myself, my husband and our baby. Moms, if you’re not feeling 100% about your doctors, explore your options! You don’t have to jump ship and go the birthing center route if you still would like to opt for a hospital birth, but know there are options out there for you, you just have to do your research and shop around!