Choosing a Birth Center Birth

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After I had Allen, it came out that I had chosen to give birth to him in a free-standing birth center. It’s not like this was a secret or anything, but it really became more widely known after I posted pictures of his birth and shared the status about baby #72 from my birth center. Since then, I have been asked a lot of questions about why we chose this and what it’s like, so I’ve decided to write a post about our choice to choose an out of hospital birth with Player 4, aka Allen.

Why Have a Birth Center Birth?

This is probably the question that I am asked most often – why would you want to have an out of hospital/birth center birth? Maybe not in those exact words, but the sentiment is the same. I think this is primarily because people have a hard time imagining having a baby without pain meds, let alone not in the hospital because what if something goes wrong? We’ve turned pregnancy into this scary, major medical emergency. And while it is true that sometimes certain medical interventions are needed, there are also times when we intervene too much and create more problems than there needed to be in the first place.

As for myself personally, while I had Dominic in the hospital and it was a good experience, after my OB stopped practicing there I was wary. I wasn’t sure I would find another OB that I would mesh with and a new birth center had opened up and I decided to investigate. I fell in love with the center and found a midwife there who was a good fit for me. At the hospital with Dominic, I was at the mercy of whatever nurses and doctors happened to be on call. It went fine – for the most part – minus the nurse who banded me with the wrong ID band and treated me a bit like I was stupid – but I wanted more continuity in care this time. I wanted to know who would be delivering my baby. And I wanted a natural birth – I certainly knew that in the hospital a natural birth is possible, after all, I had one with Dominic. But I wanted to be somewhere that I knew was fully supportive of my goal of a natural birth, instead of somewhere where I would feel like I had to stick up for my right to have one. I wanted some place I could be 100 percent comfortable – with the place, with the people, with everyone.Nick with Allen as he has his newborn exam

My experience

Prenatal Care

Well, let’s start at the beginning, with prenatal care. As far as amount, I went the same amount to my OB/GYN as I did to my midwife – starting with appointments farther apart and then getting closer as my due date got closer. I had for the most part the same tests and everything – still screened for GBS, still screened for gestational diabetes, still had general blood work done, etc. I was able to go to the hospital and get an anatomy scan. I also had concurrent care with the midwives at the hospital. What’s more, on top of that, with my midwife at the birth center, I felt really listened to. I never felt rushed and I felt like she took the time to really get to know me and my family. Any care provider could, of course, do this, but with my experience with my OB/GYN, while she was fabulous, I only saw her a limited amount of time.

Insurance

This is the one thing everybody wants to know. Did you insurance cover it? How much did it cost? Honestly, it is hard to give a straight answer on this. It is so entirely dependent on your insurance. But I will say this, Allen’s birth is paid off. He’s done. We’re still paying off Dominic’s birth because I had crappy insurance at the time. But yes, some insurances will (and do) cover a birth center birth and it can even be financially more feasible than a hospital birth.

Birth Itself

When I had Dominic, I was at the mercy of whoever the on call doctor and nurses were. Like luckily, they were mostly good, but I had never met the on call OB/GYN before. And we had some great nurses, but we also had some awful nurses – like the one who put the wrong ID badge on me and kept badgering me with the same question over and over while I was in labor even after I told her “I don’t know” (the question? I have a drug allergy and she kept wanting to know what it was prescribed to me for – I was a kid, I don’t even remember having the reaction, let alone what it was for, but for some reason she found this question so vital that she kept asking me even after I told her I didn’t know). In contrast, at the birth center, I knew who would all be at my birth ahead of time, I was already comfortable with them, and they were always respectful and gentle with me. I’ve written both my birth stories, so if you want to read more, you are certainly welcome to read about Dominic’s birth at a hospital and Allen’s birth at a birth center. Oh, one other thing to add! Allen was still able to get all the newborn screenings, the blood test, the hearing test, and the pulse ox test (for heart problems – which was never even offered to me with Dominic at the hospital) and the vitamin K shot as well. Our pediatrician even commented that she loved how thorough Allen’s records were that our midwife sent over to her.  Me holding Allen shortly after bith

Is It Right for You?

What if something goes wrong?

Everyone has a different level of risk tolerance. I have low risk pregnancies and I interviewed my midwife and was confident in her credentials and confident in the fact that she would transfer me if necessary. If you are high risk, a birth center birth is most likely not right for you.

Would I recommend it?

I absolutely would. I definitely feel that I had excellent care at the birth center and that it is a great option if you are having a low risk pregnancy.

Have your birth your way

Ultimately, at the end of the day, you need to do what you are most comfortable with. If that’s a birth center birth or a home birth or a hospital birth. If that’s an epidural or no pain meds at all. Whatever it may be, the most important part is that you are comfortable with it and that you are able to find a care provider (OB/GYN or midwife) that you really feel has you and your baby’s health and safety as their top priority and who is respectful of you as well. A birth center birth may not be right for you, even though it was right for me, and that’s perfectly okay.

Allen with his special blanket the birth center made for him

Any more questions?

I tried to hit the questions that are asked most often of me after having a birth center birth, but if I missed anything or you have any burning questions that I didn’t answer, please feel free to ask me! Leave it in the comments and I will do my best to answer you 🙂

This post is linked up over at Mom 2 Mom Mondays, Motivational Monday, and Thoughtful Spot 🙂 

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