Where to Have Your Baby: Birthing Centers


In the reception area an older man and woman were anxiously waiting to enter one of the birthing rooms. Their daughter, who happened to be a pediatrician, had just given birth to their second grandchild. The sounds of a newborn and the happy murmurings of his loving family could be clearly heard. On another couch in the reception area, a man and woman were holding a tiny, peaceful baby who had been born at the center just the day before.

The founder worked hard in the beginning to convince women that they have the ability to birth their babies without technology and drugs. Many of the women were afraid that they would not be able to give birth without an epidural for pain. At first women were given the option of childbirth education classes at the birthing center. After a few years the founder noticed that the women who actively participated in the classes, especially for their first pregnancies, had much easier births than those women who just came for their regularly scheduled prenatal visits. He now insists that all women participate in prenatal education.

The founder sees the classes at the birthing center as more than teaching women how to give birth -- they reinforce the normalcy of birth. The classes provide an experience of support that allows couples to feel comfortable in the birthing environment. Pregnant women often stop by the center to discuss some of their concerns about their anticipated births over a cup of tea. The importance of a casual relationship to the birthplace and the care providers cannot be underestimated. Each time a mother drops by or has a prenatal visit, the birthing center becomes more familiar. When she eventually arrives to have her baby, she does not have to cope with adjusting to a strange place.


Next Page: How birthing centers let families direct their birth

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