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DC Area Natural Birth? MCA? Birth Care? Special Beginnings?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
OMG!! My BFF is pregnant! Woo hoo!

She and I are from Montgomery County (I live in DC now, she lived in DC for a while), but she has been living in another part of the country for the past couple of years for work. She's moving back to the area in November and is due in March, and looking for a natural birth in the DC area.

I am of course a huge homebirth supporter, but didn't want to push anything on her. I wasn't sure how much she had thought about it, but then she said, "OMG, you should really see this movie-- The Business of Being Born?" and I LOL'ed. Obviously she's more or less on the same page. She doesn't seem 100% closed-off to the idea of a homebirth (she has a good friend that had two in NoVa), but part of her concern is due to the fact that she's not sure where she'll be living in March. When they come back in November, she and her husband will stay with her parents in Bethesda for a short while as they look for a place to buy-- likely in the Bethesda/Rockville area or Silver Spring. I'm guessing they'll be moved-in by January or so.

She mentioned Midwifery Care Associates, who work out of Shady Grove, so I looked into them... I saw some folks who were very happy with their experiences, and others (less thrilled) who made me think the midwives were more "medwives"-- or at least some of them are. Of course, I'm coming with my homebirth bias... They did seem way better than most OB practices, but still kind of... "As long as everything is textbook, you'll only have one or two interventions, but otherwise, we'll start pushing a bit d/t liability concerns." They are quoted as having a 27% epidural rate and a 15% C/S rate. They seem... kind of like natural-minded OBs to me? Like they'll spend a lot more time with you than OBs and respect your wishes more, but they're also into "active management," IYKWIM. And then the post-natal care seems like it's just standard Shady Grove. But I don't know...

Anyway.... Anyone have any thoughts about MCA? How about Special Beginnings in Arnold? I've heard slightly mixed reviews of them as well. I've heard mostly raves about BirthCare in Alexandria, and of course they also attend HBs, but anyone have any thoughts about them?

It's true that SGH is only 20-40 minutes from Bethesda/Silver Spring, though it would be more during rush hour. But Alexandria is only an extra 10 minutes, so it seems totally viable...

And then there's that Birth Center in DC itself...?

Anyone? Any thoughts?

So far, BFF's pregnancy has been totally textbook, and she's definitely low-risk, primip, early 30s, and very interested in a natural birth, avoiding all drugs possible (epidural, narcotics, and also pitocin, etc.), and having lots of space for movement, possibly water labor, etc. She also seems to be very open to the idea of a birth center vs. a hospital (especially given the fact BCs in this area are never much more than spitting distance from hospitals, "just in case.")

I just don't want her to be disappointed, if possible... She said things about MCA (not having visited yet) like, "It's just like a birth center, but in a hospital!" and I admit I was a bit skeptical, LOL. Of course, it's COMPLETELY her decision, I just want to help ensure (in the tiny way I might be able to) that whatever she decides is what she's gonna get-- that she won't be subject to any bait-and-switch. I guess 'cause I felt like my SIL thought she was going to have a birth-center-like birth (in another city), and the only difference between her "birth center" part of the hospital and the rest was wood paneling and a dimmer switch. She ended up with every intervention but a C/S.

Thanks for listening to my ramble! I'm just soooo excited for her!!! She and I were maid and matron of honor at each other's weddings, we've been best friend since we were 11, etc., and as far as I'm concerned, she's my sister. I just want the best for her-- at least for her to get what she thinks is best for her!

x-posted to the Maryland/DC area
post #2 of 9
I'm one with raves about Birthcare -- not just for pregnancy/delivery but also for routine care. And FYI -- they do have a small "birth center" in addition to doing homebirths if your friend didn't want to go the homebirth route but wanted midwife care.

One warning though -- they are SUPER BUSY. If your friend thinks she might want to go with them she needs to call ASAP because they fill up fast. The downside to going to great caregivers is that everyone else wants to go there too. :P

If you want more info, PM me.
post #3 of 9
Just wanted to give a second rave for Birth Care. I think if we were blessed again we'd go with birthbydesign.org?com? and I've met with her (can't remember if there's something inappropriate about giving names on here?!). But we DID love BirthCare. For both our kids, so far. One BC birth and one HB. LOVED them. Hated the drive to Alexandria, lol, and they are CNMs, and I'm becoming less inclined toward some of that medical-ness, but they are really, really great. I somehow managed to get in at 24 wks or so with our first, and was so thankful. So, there's hope on the waiting list but do get in asap!
post #4 of 9
I had my first with the Family Health & Birth Center midwives in DC, and I was VERY happy with the care I received there. I know there has been some turnover since I was there but I have still heard good reviews more recently on local message boards. They are a great practice because they have the birth center option or the hospital option for those who prefer that. They do serve a mixed clientele, socioeconomically, and the facility is located in a non-Metro accessible area, which deters some people, but I lived in DC at the time and would have driven to appts anywhere so it didn't bother me. They do have free and abundant parking!

I had my second with a local home birth midwife and I know that there are several in the area who are all pretty highly regarded, so like you, I always recommend that route. In terms of FHBC versus BirthCare (bc yes, BirthCare is widely known as great), I think it really depends on where she lives and how far she is willing to go for prenatals, as well as whether she is interested in a hospital birth (which FHBC offers) versus having the option for home and birth center.

MCA ... I was with them before I switched to FHBC, and switched because that was when their birth center was closing (a month before my due date). Honestly, I had not really enjoyed my experiences there in terms of prenatal care either so I felt that it was fortuitous that I was forced to look elsewhere. I'm sure that the midwives practicing there now are probably different from the ones I saw, but ... yes, I have heard mixed things, and I do consider them more mainstream medical than any other midwifery practice in the area.

Oh, another option for midwife in the hospital is Whitney Pinger. She used to be with WHC, but she switched I think to GW earlier this year. I have never heard anything but raves about her.

Have also heard many good things about Special Beginnings but it is far out in MD. Again, it's about where your friend will be living and how far she is willing to drive for her prenatals, and how far she is comfortable being from a birth center she plans to give birth at.
post #5 of 9
I managed to get in with Birthcare at 30weeks with DS1. Overall, I really do like them. You also don't have to decide until 36 weeks whether you want to birth in their birth center or at home. I had DS2 with 10 Moons Midwifery out of Woodstock ... they don't cover MD or DC so they're out. Peggy Franklin (Birth by Design) just started a birth center with another MW but she's out in Gainesville. I've heard pretty much 100% positive feedback on Peggy.
post #6 of 9
I had my second at home with the MAMAS midwives, Erin and Mairi. They were both superb and it was a perfect experience.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

FYI, my BFF had her baby with MCA yesterday.  She chose never to interview anyone else and went with them a couple of weeks after my OP.


Textbook pregnancy, 40w2d, baby was vertex, etc.  30 hours of (non-induced) labor ending in a C/S. 


I guess I'll get the whole story when I see her tomorrow.


Good news (from the short message) is that baby is nursing beautifully.  smile.gif


I will say I did notice a *lot* of C/S stories with MCA when I researched them (all with positive verbiage "MWs were angels, but my baby was just too big," etc.).  Though they say their rate is only 15%, the birth stories I found-- and none were rants or anything-- were about 40-50% C/S.  I'm sure their rate is nothing like 40-50%, but just saying.

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

Just adding-- now that I know the story-- that my BFF was put "on the clock" when her water broke.  When her contractions did not have her dilating "fast enough" (she was dilating, just not "enough" to get to 10 cm by the 24-hour mark in the MW's opinion-- this was at the 10-hour mark), she was told she needed pitocin, which led to an epi, and basically in the end baby was just malpositioned enough to require a C/S.  BTW, baby tolerated everything beautifully throughout.


This is only my personal opinion, disclaimer, disclaimer, you're hearing it secondhand, etc., but I got the strong feeling that if your labor is textbook or includes maybe one minor aberration, you will probably have a good natural birth with MCA.  If not-- and even if your labor is not all THAT anomalous-- they will begin pushing ("strongly suggesting") interventions.  Aside from being beholden to hospital policy (though the MW did stave the C/S off from 24 hours to about 30), there were two problems I had based on what my BFF told me.  1) She was told that changing her position would NOT help improve baby's position when baby was at 0 station.  Perhaps there is some reason or circumstance under which that could be true, but I would like to hear it, because it's not coming to me right now.  2) She was told that had the baby been a pound lighter (baby was just over 8 lbs) she would have come out vaginally.  This statement just plain infuriates me for reasons I don't have to go into here. 


I did get the impression that the MW was interpersonally wonderful and basically did everything in her power and that she knew to do to get my BFF a vaginal birth.  The key phrases being "in her power" (which was limited) and that she "knew to do."


This is just ME-- and keeping in mind I long ago decided on HB in the absence of complications-- but basically...  I wouldn't birth with them if my uterus was on fire.

post #9 of 9

I had my first daughter at SGH with MCA and it was a preterm birth after 2 weeks of undiagnosed preterm labor. I was in their office (when they still had the birth center) 3 of the 4 days before my daughter was born and told that I wasn't having contractions and I would probably have those pains throughout my pregnancy and I needed to just get used to it. Even though I was only sleeping 2 hours a night I was in so much pain. My daughter passed away at 6 weeks. This was not a case of over-intervention, but of being ignored despite multiple complaints. I obviously don't recommend them, especially because I met someone else in a grief group with a similar story.


My second daughter was born in the hospital with an OB, and my son at home with Marilee Pinkelton of TLC Midwifery, who I highly recommend.

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