How Can We Make Natural Birth Accessible to More Moms? One Detroit Hospital May Have the Answer

The Karmanos Center for Natural Birth in Metro Detroit
The Karmanos Center for Natural Birth in Metro Detroit

This post has been sponsored by Beaumont Health.

Interest in natural birth is growing rapidly in the US, with more and more women and doctors recognizing the benefits of personalized labor support and minimal interventions for mom and baby.

Pregnant moms everywhere are at the forefront of this movement, demanding access to care providers and facilities that support them in their unique journey, and for many, that means a new set of expectations for their local hospital delivery ward. While other good birthing options do exist, more than 98% of US parents are still choosing their local hospital for labor and birth—taking comfort in the medical services offered in case of emergency, as well as the coverage provided by their insurer.

Luckily, many hospitals in the US are accommodating this push by making sweeping changes to the services they provide to families. More relaxing labor environments, comfort tools like birthing balls and tubs, and acceptance of birth support professionals, such as doulas, are more common than ever before.

But some hospitals are doing much more than just accommodating requests on a case by case basis, they’re empowering parents with a whole new set of tools. Danialle Karmanos and her husband Peter were passionate about making natural birth an attainable reality for moms at Beaumont Hospital in Metro Detroit, so the couple donated $6 million dollars to develop the Karmanos Center for Natural Birth there.

The new center includes six private birthing suites equipped with large hydrotherapy tubs, massaging shower heads and other special amenities for natural labor and delivery. Specially trained nurses help mothers navigate natural childbirth with holistic techniques such as aromatherapy, therapeutic touch, reflexology and music therapy. There’s an indoor walking path and two beautiful outdoor rooftop gardens – one designed for viewing, the other designed as a walking garden for fresh air and movement during labor.

The Karmanos Center for Natural Birth is available for any woman who meets medical criteria for a natural birth, based on a consultation with her physician or midwife. At around 28 weeks of pregnancy, Beaumont’s specially trained nurse liaisons will work with the woman to create a customized natural birth plan that includes a natural birth workshop, online education portal and mobile application, and one-on-one support from nurses and physicians.

Birthing Tub at the Karmanos Center for Natural Birth
Birthing Tub at the Karmanos Center for Natural Birth

Ray Bahado-Singh, M.D., chairman, OB-GYN, Beaumont Health System, says the new Karmanos Center for Natural Birth “recognizes the voices of many women seeking a natural, holistic approach to labor that could lead to lower rates of medical interventions and cesarean section deliveries and faster recovery rates in select women.”

If a natural birth does not go as planned and medical interventions are required for a safe delivery, Beaumont offers the safety net of a traditional birthing center with sophisticated medical capabilities just steps away, including a state-certified neonatal intensive care unit.

In addition to its benefits for women, “Natural childbirth is also an important experience for the father,” says Peter Karmanos. “You are far more of a participant in the birth.”

Beaumont Hospital has put together a very informative video with Danialle Karmanos and members of the staff, discussing the center’s philosophies and services, as well as Danialle’s own natural births there. For those mothers who live near the Karmanos Center for Natural Birth in Metro Detroit and want to learn more about their services a helpful information page can be found here.

For those who live too far away to take advantage of the center, Lauren Rauseo, author of Natural Birth for the Mainstream Mama, offers 3 ways to prepare for an empowering birth at a local hospital.

1. Choose a care provider who is truly supportive of natural birth and a hospital without policies that hinder it. Shop around when possible for the best match.

2. Assemble a supportive birth team. This will most likely include your partner (who needs to be completely on board with natural birth) and a birth doula or other support person.

3. Make a commitment to see your plan through. Having natural birth at the hospital is hard because of all the interventions you are trying to avoid. Do whatever is necessary to retrain your brain to know that you CAN do it.

Read more from Lauren in our interview with her.

Did you have a natural birth in the hospital? We’d love to hear about it.


4 thoughts on “How Can We Make Natural Birth Accessible to More Moms? One Detroit Hospital May Have the Answer”

  1. I really think it’s wonderful people did this. Respecting each others personal choices makes for a wonderful world. I hope to see more hospitals doing this soon.

  2. My midwives, Chris B and Tracie A ,now work at the Karmanos Center at Beaumont. Thanks to them, I was able to give natural birth to my daughter in Feb. 2014 when the OB wanted to perform a c-cestion. I couldn’t have done it with out them. Their support, encouragement and variety of birthing techniques made it possible for me to get through the labor and delivery. My husband and I look forward to working with them again in the future when we start planning for baby #2.

  3. I had three natural births in hospitals. You have to constantly fight to be allowed to do something other than labor on your back hooked up to monitors constantly. The one time I didn’t have to fight I had a nurse who happily came in to monitor heart beats every half hour so I could be on my feet and moving into bearable positions. None of my epidural births were anything but traumatic and frightening.

  4. I gave birth in a hospital natural birth suite similar to this in Newton, Iowa. I labored in a tub like one you would use in a home birth and pushed in the positions that felt right at the time. My midwife was 100% supportive and kept it a relaxing atmosphere.

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