Throughout my pregnancy, I've been asked "So which hospital are you giving birth at?" One person actually went on to list a handful of local hospitals without giving me a chance to respond first. "Paoli? Bryn Mawr? Chester County?" It's always assumed that I will give birth in a hospital.

And then I break the news. Well, actually, we're going to a birth center. Cue total confusion...

So I launch into my spiel (I've got it down by now). It's a stand-alone birth center right across the street from the Bryn Mawr hospital, and I'm under the care of midwives, but in the case of an emergency, I am transferred to the hospital. Then I like to add, it's a little hippy-ish, but I love it! For some reason, people get this. In truth, it doesn't have anything to do with the hippy movement of the 1970's, except that that's the decade when women returned to using midwives and wanting births with as few interventions as possible. Before hospital births became popular in the 20's and 30's, almost all women had their children at home under the care of a midwife.

The Birth Center in Bryn Mawr, PA
In many European countries, there are far fewer hospital births than in the United States, and these countries actually have lower infant mortality rates. As of 2010, the U.S. was ranked 34th for infant mortality rate, which means that 33 countries have fewer infant deaths than we do. Sweden, Denmark... even Cuba beats us. CUBA!

Additionally, I knew that if I went the traditional hospital route, there would be almost a 1 in 3 chance I'd have a c-section. That is the national average for all hospital births, regardless of the mother's health. Up front, I knew I wanted to avoid being part of that statistic. Who wants major surgery? No one.
On the other hand, the birth center we are going to has an 8% c-section rate. They also don't offer epidurals or pitocin (except for after childbirth, if pitocin is needed to expel the placenta). So if I were to want/need either of those drugs, I'd be transferred to the hospital. They believe that the body works best without these interventions and they offer tons of natural pain management methods instead (there have got to be about 100 of them). We already learned about them in our childbirth classes, and I have a handy packet for home use when labor starts. It's like my new bible.

Then there are the misconceptions. That midwives aren't trained properly (false, they receive the same training as nurses, plus additional training in emergency procedures that can arise during birth). That only a doctor can deliver a baby (clearly not true if women in other countries have such great success with midwives and if women in the U.S. were successfully having children for hundreds of years). That drugs are 100% safe (no drug is completely safe). That there is one "best" place to have a baby (again, in looking at other countries, maybe we're the ones who've got it wrong). Ay yay yay. Whenever I hear these things, I just roll my eyes. Throughout my prenatal care and childbirth classes, I've felt so safe, comfortable and confident with their methods and attitudes towards birth. I refuse to let other people's narrow-minded opinions about my birth choices deter me.

I don't feel scared or nervous because I know there will be a wonderful team of women helping Tim and I every step along the way. Not to mention, it always helps to feel in control of the situation. I've never been pressured into any kind of testing and we're even opting out of a few post-birth procedures (antibiotic eye ointment & the hep b vaccine) and doing so wasn't an issue. Having your decisions supported and trusted is truly empowering.

Do I sound like a hippy? Okay, maybe I do. Afterall, I wasn't drawn to those tie-dye tapestries in college for no reason. But I don't think it's a bad thing. Some people I've spoken to act like I'm being wreckless. But why? Because they've never heard of anyone else going to a birth center before? Talk about fear of the unknown.

Wherever and however you plan on giving birth, being 100% confident in your choice is key. There aren't wrong choices, just different choices. I've really enjoyed educating people on my choice, and I can't wait to tell Baby Annan's birth story in a few weeks. In GRAPHIC DETAIL. Haha... just kidding... kind of.

I'd also like to give a shout out to my awesome husband who has supported every one of my choices, attended hours and hours of childbirth classes with me, and who gives one hell of a prenatal massage. He's going to be a counter-pressure rock star when I'm in labor!

See you soon, little one! And please don't cause problems, mm k?

1 comment:

  1. I am such a hippie then because I think it's cool some women are choosing home births now! I would totally give birth in a bathtub too. I would much prefer a birthing center with midwives to the hospital.. I am totally with you! Good for you!


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