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Give me the skinny on birthing in Austin!

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who would prefer a homebirth or birthing center but read a bunch of horror stories online about birthing centers in Austin and doesn't know what to do anymore.

What have your experiences with Austin area birthing centers and midwives been like? Negative and positive is wanted. Or if there are statistics anywhere that would be good too.

I just moved here a couple months ago so I didn't have much to tell her.

I think overall she's just fearful of natural birth in general. Apparently women on her mother's side have had lots of issues giving birth (her mom almost hemorraged), so I think she's just scared. Psychologically, a natural homebirth is what she wants, but part of her is just nervous and she keeps asking me what would happen if something went wrong. I tried to reassure her but it would be better if I had real stories to give her.

Even if you could share positive experiences with certain midwives/OBs in the Austin area hospitals would be good. That way maybe she could have the best of both worlds.

Give me the skinny on birthing in Austin!
post #2 of 12
In Austin, midwives are not allowed to attend in the hospitals as more than just a "birth assistant" or doula. So it's either a hosptial birth with an OB or a homebirth/birth center birth with a midwife. There is really very little in between. I know there are some doctors that are midwife friendly and a few more that are doula friendly...but my understanding is that it is still a very much uphill battle.

Of the midwives in Austin, there are some really fantastic ones. The two midwives below both do a consultation with potential clients. It would be a great time for your friend to ask any questions about concerns (i.e. what do they do for excessive blood loss).

My personal experience is with Debra Day who was at my first birth and will attend us in November for our next birth. She is more in the south Austin region. She's been really great and a great fit for our family as a whole. She's very laid back in personality but isn't afraid to do some steering when certain things need to happen.

MariMikel Penn also attended us at our first birth. She has New Life Birth Service which is a freestanding birth center and homebirth service. She's probably one of, if not the most experienced midwife in town. I know that she has over 30 years of experience and her stats are very impressive. You'd have to contact her about those as I don't have the most recent ones.

I really can not say enough good things about these women, their knowledge, and their level of care. Both of these midwives do not take chances. If there is a complication beyond the realm of safe homebirth, they transport. We needed to transport with our first birth during active labor. They were both professional and instrumental in us having the lowest intervention birth we could possibly have given our situation. We were encouraged to still birth naturally and they worked with the hospital staff to help this happen.

I have heard some less than savory things about Austin Area Birth Center along the way, while others just absolutely rave about them. Take that as you will.

I know there are other homebirth midwives here in town, some of them on this board.

Personally I felt like our care and treatment by our midwives was far more personal and caring that what we recieved at the hosptial. The doctors provided us a great service, the equipment and skills were needed, but it still felt very distant. I also felt as if they were not happy about us desiring to birth without drugs and that, to me anyway, was very dishartening.

I hope that helps a little.
post #3 of 12
there is one other birthing center in austin...birthwise with april bullock. I have never met her but I have heard only positive things.
I work with and love melanie henderson http://www.texasmidwives.com/midwive...g.asp?mwid=136
I also love ilyssa foster, who is in san marcus and south austin.

you can now have a birth in a hospital with a CNM, but only if you choose christina sebestyen as your ob. she has gotten hospital privileges for her three CNMs who work with her.

I believe that austin area birthing center is not a bad choice. it is all about what you are looking for. they are more medically minded than having a homebirth of course.

If your friend is looking for a natural birth and is at all open to homebirth, I would recommend that she talk to a few midwives early...before she gets to a point where she feels that she has to pick a caregiver. midwives can handle all sorts of complications while still at home and are able to judge when it is time to transfer to a hospital if needed.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions so far mamas! I think I'm just going to bundle up this information, give it to her, and tell her to visit birthing centers and talk to midwives directly, asking them exactly what she is concerned about. I know it's a matter of trust for her and her DH is a medical kind of guy also. But it sounds like even if she wants an OB, Christina Sebestyen would be good also, no?

Are there very many Austin moms on MDC? This tribal area seems quiet.

And do all of the doulas know each other? Are they friendly with one another? We had a great teamwork thing going on in Michigan, but it was almost out of necessity since there aren't as many of us.

You might not know the answers to these questions, but I thought I'd ask!
post #5 of 12
I highly recommend Melanie Henderson, if you want a homebirth midwife.
I just had my 3rd homebirth and used Melanie for that birth. Absolutely fantastic. I had a different midwife for my 1st and 2nd babies, (I lived in another state then). She is very hands off, and has a very positive and caming presense while she's there.
post #6 of 12
My first child was born at AABC 5 years ago. I found it a good experience and have recommended AABC to people since then. That said, once I thought about it, I decided to stay home for #2 and Melanie Henderson was my midwife as well. She was very supportive during a rough time for me and I feel very comfortable with her knowledge level.

I think there are quite a few HB midwives in Austin, and they bring the same equipment that free-standing birthing centers have, so once I really thought about that, the decision to stay home was much easier.
post #7 of 12
there are fourty something doulas in austin. many of us know each other. many of the ones that I do not know, I know of through the doula yahoo group or from other doulas. I have not met any area doulas that were not supportive of the other doulas.
post #8 of 12
I used Heart of Texas Midwives and know 3 other families that have used them. I have another friend who switched from MaryMikel Penn to April Bullock in the last trimester of her pregnancy.
post #9 of 12
In Austin, midwives are not allowed to attend in the hospitals as more than just a "birth assistant" or doula.
That's not true anymore at St. Davids in North Austin (NAMC) off Mopac.

My Dr. is Dr. Christina Sebeystian (sp?) and she has a practice with midwives and as of Sept. or Oct. 1st (can't remember) the midwives are now allowed to deliver at NAMC. My doctor is great. She is an OB who very much supports natural birth.

Her office is located across the street from the hospital.

post #10 of 12
I started at AABC and then transferred to their backup at 8 months due to some suspected complications. Their back up OBs work together, delivering at St. David's on 38th - Clive Polon and Mikel Love. I ended up with both of them in attendance at our birth, though Dr. Love was my doctor, since Polon was the on call and we had severe complications. I and had a good experience them trusting my body to birth the baby. I can honestly say that had I had a different set of doctors they would have cut me open the instant we arrived. I was only a four and baby was in distress. She was born naturally an hour and a half later and they did everything they could to limit the number of interventions. I did have oxygen, AROM, and an amnioinfusion (saline filled catheter to help relieve cord compression and rinse meconium from the DD's face area), but they did not pressure me to have a c-section and provided me with information and options. That was as much as I could have hoped for with a doctor. Both of them are pretty dry yet very supportive, they probably will not offer you the attention that many midwives would. We had a wonderful doula- Courtney Wyrtzen- but I do not think she is attending births right now. She was perhaps the single greatest thing about our birth. She was actually the person to suggest it was time to get to the hospital and I am glad we mad it when we did!

I am SOOOO glad to hear that there is a doctor in Austin fighting to get the CNMs back into the hospital for those who want that type of care! I would definitely check them out. I am pregnant with my second, but alas, we moved to Abilene this summer. It is a little like being in the dark ages of care- very medical minded. And with the complications last time, I am not a good candidate for a home birth. . .
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for sharing your experiences with me!
post #12 of 12
I started out at AABC with my second and transfered care b/c the baby was breech. I was happy with Dr. Polon as well--he was thorough and kindly answered all of my questions. I've been to Dr. Sebeysten's (sp) office and had one of the midwives do my yearly stuff and I was pleased with my experience there. I am planning on my second HBAC with Melanie Henderson but if I need to transfer care during the pregnancy I would choose to go with Dr. Sebeysten's practice.
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