natural birth

7 Reasons Why Families Choose to Birth at a Birth Center

 
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When a potential client comes to tour the birth center, sometimes they are sure that’s the route they want to go, and sometimes they are exploring their options and trying to find the right fit. Here are 7 reasons that you may want to birth at a birthing center:

1. The ability to relax - Let's face it. The bright lights, beeping machines, and incessant intrusion of strangers in your hospital room is not the best way to promote peace and relaxation. At a birth center, the entire space and experience is designed to be calm and comforting.


2. The comforts of home without being at home - Some families aren't comfortable with the idea of birthing at home, but want to birth somewhere that feels as comfortable as home. The birth center fits that bill, and it has all of the equipment, technology, and experienced care providers needed to keep you safe.


3. Freedom of movement - At the birth center you can move around freely, and even give birth in whatever position feels most comfortable for you. You aren’t restricted to the bed. Additionally, the birth center has birth balls, birth swings, and labor ladders to help you move your body into supported positions that are great for labor.


4. Water! - The birth center has deep birth pools in each room that are a lifesaver for many women. We call water “the midwife’s epidural” because it is so effective at providing pain relief! You even have the option to give birth in the pool if it feels right. Water birth has been shown to be safe for both the birthing person and the baby.


5. Support for a natural birth - You don’t have to fight with your provider about your desires for your birth. Natural birth, delayed cord clamping, immediate bonding with my baby - these and more are all the norm at the birth center, not the exception.


6. Knowing your birth team - Unlike at a hospital, you will know the midwives who will care for you during your birth. In fact, you will likely spend many hours with them over the course of your pregnancy at your relaxed 45-minute prenatal visits.


7. Cost - There's no way around the fact that finances came into play when choosing where to give birth, and the birth center is actually far cheaper than a hospital birth. The birth center is also covered by many major PPO insurance plans. All the amazing benefits, plus cheaper to boot.

It's a marvel everyone isn't having their babies at a birth center!

 

Pregnant? Get. A. Doula.

It’s that simple. And it’s something I can’t stress enough....

Having a natural home birth? Get a doula. 
Having your baby at the hospital with an epidural? Get a doula. 
Having a natural birth at the hospital? Definitely get a doula.
Having a C-section? Get a doula.

In the ten years I’ve been attending births, I have never seen a more effective way to increase your chances of having a positive birth experience. Doulas are unique among the birth team in that they are trained professionals that provide continuous support for the laboring mom. This means a doula will never leave your side. Your midwife, your OB, the nurses, everyone else - they have other tasks to attend to - charting, prepping, making sure everyone is safe, not to mention other patients/clients (if you’re in the hospital). But a doula, she is there with you from the moment you need her until well after your baby's born and you've done your first breastfeed. She will rub your back, breathe through contractions with you, help you stay calm and focused, help you talk with hospital staff, support you in breastfeeding, get you something to drink, get your partner something to eat, and the list goes on and on and on. 

One of the most important things a doula does is to help your partner support you. Let’s face it, sometimes partners get tired, or they get overwhelmed, or they plain just don’t know what to do because they’ve never been to a birth before! Have no fear. Doulas have often been to many births, and are experts in managing the interpersonal aspects of labor. They are very intuitive about knowing how to support partners and help them feel comfortable, as well as helping to manage relationships with other family, friends and birth team members, all according to the mother's wishes, of course. 

A few things a doula does not do: 

  • She doesn't do anything clinical - no vaginal exams, blood pressure checks, fetal heart tones, etc.
  • She does not replace your partner. 
  • She does not speak for you or represent you to birth team staff. She can help hold space for you, and help you to think through decisions, but you or your partner are still responsible for communicating directly with your birth team about your needs and desires.

I know a lot of you out there are numbers-oriented folks, so let’s look at what the statistics say about having a doula at your birth. A meta-analysis of 22 studies comprising over 15,000 births showed that overall, women who had a doula at their birth experienced a:

  • 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin
  • 28% decrease in the risk of C-section
  • 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
  • 9% decrease in the use of medications for pain relief
  • 14% decrease in the risk of newborn being admitted to the nursery
  • 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience

I advise all of my clients to get a doula. They are worth their cost many times over. I have never heard a mom say she wished she’d saved the money she spent on a doula. In fact, I’ve often heard women say that they would have paid much more if they had known what a valuable service a doula provides.

In recognition of World Doula Week, I urge everyone reading this to learn about doulas and get out there and spread the word. Educate yourself and the women and families you know about the amazing benefits of having a doula. ALL mothers deserve a doula!

P.S. In this post I am specifically talking about birth doulas, but I also want to acknowledge postpartum doulas, who are equally as wonderful, and are often a godsend for families who are learning how to incorporate a newborn into their lives.