Tell me about your birth center experience - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-29-2012, 01:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm interested in hearing from any mamas who have planned a birth center birth even if baby ended up being born elsewhere for whatever reason. I had a hospital birth with my first - didn't really like. Then a planned homebirth that ended up being a (ETA: non emergent) transfer to the hospital - liked some segments and didn't like others. Now I am expecting my third child and live near a freestanding birth center. I wonder if a birth center will be a nice compromise between hospital and homebirth.

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Old 10-30-2012, 10:18 AM
 
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I have had a hospital birth &  a birth center birth, and I definately preferred the birth center birth. I  had a mid wife deliver both places, but loved having the tub, a full big room to walk around in during labor, a kitchen for afterwards, and being discharged after 9 hours. They did the first visit after birth at our home which I also loved. We are in a university town so the hospital was close by if needed. I had a very serious tear and almost had to be transported as they didn't have all of the supplies for the repair (more than they usually do), but a someone went to the hospital and got the supplies so I didn't have to be transfered right after delivery. I think if you have the option, I'd go for it. They are choosy about who they serve, as you have to be a good candidate for an out of hospital delivery (no c-sections previously, etc.). We were very happy with our experience.

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Old 10-30-2012, 10:18 AM
 
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I had a complicated pregnancy (lost a twin early on), a quick beautiful birth, and a postpartum hemorrhage that resulted in an ambulance ride to the hospital after my delivery. Through it all, my midwife was the picture of professionalism and compassion. I think if you're in NC and considering the birth center in Chapel Hill, you would be in very good hands. They gave me so much support through a difficult pregnancy and postpartum course, far more than any of the doctors involved (high risk OB was involved in my care), and took better care of me both medically and psychologically than any doctor. And I'm a PA so I know doctors!! My advice is to make sure your birth center is close to a hospital that has a neonatal ICU and that the midwives have privileges there. If you do end up with the worst-case scenario, like I did, you want to be transferred to a good hospital. Good luck!!
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Old 10-30-2012, 10:52 AM
 
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If you are in NC, the WBWC is the best place I've ever been. I only have one little guy, but I am so glad to live near the birth center. My little guy is almost a year old and we still go visit our midwife. She seems like a part of the family. I loved having my own room with a bathroom and a door to the outside. I've never been so hot in all my life and loved the fresh air. I had just the perfect amount of attention and care. Good luck and I hightly recommend the birth center.

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Old 10-30-2012, 11:21 AM
 
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Hi. Birth centers do not really have the capacity to handle unexpected complications so if anything arises you would have to transfer to a hospital anyway. The only advantage a birth center has over a homebirth is possibly there might me more staff available. but you should clarify that.

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Old 10-30-2012, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by kagranola View Post

They are choosy about who they serve, as you have to be a good candidate for an out of hospital delivery (no c-sections previously, etc.). We were very happy with our experience.

 

Luckily, both of my births have been vaginal and the pregnancies were low risk.

 

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My advice is to make sure your birth center is close to a hospital that has a neonatal ICU and that the midwives have privileges there.

 

I don't believe midwives at the birth center have hospital privileges (they are CPMs, not CNMs) but in the event of a transfer, they accompany the client.

 

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If you are in NC, the WBWC is the best place I've ever been.

 

I am in Northern Virginia.

 

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Hi. Birth centers do not really have the capacity to handle unexpected complications so if anything arises you would have to transfer to a hospital anyway. The only advantage a birth center has over a homebirth is possibly there might me more staff available. but you should clarify that.

 

I am hopeful that my insurance company might look more favorably on a birth center birth vs a homebirth. I also think that my not so pro homebirth hubby will go for the birth center without questioning things too closely. wink1.gif


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Old 10-30-2012, 12:26 PM
 
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The only advantage a birth center has over a homebirth is possibly there might me more staff available. but you should clarify that.

 

I disagree. Here are some other advantages, in my opinion, to a birth center over your home:

  • I don't live in my dream home, so being in its messy, imperfect space would be stressful to me during birthing. I would rather be in a neutral, impeccably clean, calmly decorated birthing room.
  • No worry about making a mess in your house. They prep for your mess and clean it all up.
  • Easier to be separated from your older kids if you want to be alone. Not everyone does, of course, but I found the presence of my 2-year-old stressful at my second birth. Even just hearing her voice having a fit about something in the birth center waiting room caused me a lot of distress while I was in labor. She was able to go home, to a space she was familiar and comfortable with, and not worry about bothering mama with her noise. And I was able to be alone with my husband, midwife, doula, and nurse.
  • On the flip side, no worry about making too much noise yourself! Some people are self-conscious about this and don't want their family members hearing them moaning, etc.
  • Huge bathtub at the birth center! I really didn't think I'd want to use it, but I loved it both times.


I'm sure there are other advantages as well, and of course these are just my own opinions and preferences. I had both my babies at the birth center in NC and would do it there again, or at another birth center, if I have any more.

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Old 11-01-2012, 04:24 PM
 
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I had both of my babies at a freestanding birth center, and loved it.  Over time, I've come to believe that my births weren't really a compromise between home birth and a hospital birth.  It was more a home birth away from home, considering how few interventions I had.

 

But unlike home birth, the birth center was completely covered by insurance.  It also provided comfort to family members who would have argued against home birth.  People like to see you go to the "hospital", even if its not a hospital. 

 

We lived in a small, cramped apartment when our children were born, but the birth center offered spacious rooms with queen sized beds and oversized bathtubs.  The rooms are set up like bedrooms, with all the emergency equipment available within reach but just out of sight in the dresser drawers.  Since I was there, they have moved into another facility where there are now waterbirth tubs in each room.  They also have birthing stools and birth balls available, and the midwives attend you throughout labor, not just coming in at the end.  Its a dream environment for someone wanting natural childbirth. 

 

I recently visited the birth center again, and was struck by the positive birthing energy radiated there.  I know things can go wrong and people have been transferred to the hospital in labor, but I walk into the rooms and just feel so warm and fuzzy from all the good memories that have been created there.  It's a great place to give birth.

 

The downside:  They are very particular about who they accept as clients.  I've heard of people have successful home births after being "risked out" of the birth center for minor reasons.  Another disadvantage:  Midwives work on a rotating on-call schedule, so you can't choose who you want to attend your birth. 

 

I don't know if all birth centers are the same, or if I'm just speaking about my local one.  This was just my experience.

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Old 11-02-2012, 07:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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"The downside: They are very particular about who they accept as clients. I've heard of people have successful home births after being "risked out" of the birth center for minor reasons. Another disadvantage: Midwives work on a rotating on-call schedule, so you can't choose who you want to attend your birth."

Interesting that you and several posters above mention the strictness of birth centers. Will have to ask when I tour there next week.

The rotating schedule is one of the factors that causes me to feel it is a compromise between hospital and home birth. The birth center near me has three midwives on staff from what I understand and I imagine they operate on an on call schedule. A friend who birthed there told me her prenatal appointments rotated between the midwives so she would know each when the time came. She said since she liked each she did not mind this.

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Old 11-02-2012, 10:13 PM
 
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 Overall, it was a good experience. I labored in the jacuzzi and delivered in bed. I did have a bad tear which required stitches but everything went fine. My least favorite parts, visitors were allowed in the room immediately after the birth when I was still nude and bleeding and I also felt rushed out after the birth. I think we stayed a total of 2 hours afterwards and I was just so exhausted I did not enjoy having to gather everything and get in the car.


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Old 11-04-2012, 02:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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"I think we stayed a total of 2 hours afterwards and I was just so exhausted I did not enjoy having to gather everything and get in the car."

That is another downside although the birth center I am looking at states clients usually stay 4-6 hours. I also wish they offered just one meal but instead have some kitchen facilities so you as the family can bring in something that can be heated.

But compared to seeing hospital birth midwives that won't allow any time between water breaking and inducing labor if GBS+....

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Old 11-04-2012, 05:14 PM
 
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 Overall, it was a good experience. I labored in the jacuzzi and delivered in bed. I did have a bad tear which required stitches but everything went fine. My least favorite parts, visitors were allowed in the room immediately after the birth when I was still nude and bleeding and I also felt rushed out after the birth. I think we stayed a total of 2 hours afterwards and I was just so exhausted I did not enjoy having to gather everything and get in the car.

 

I peeked in on this thread because I was wondering the same things as the OP...this is exactly what I don't think I'd like about a birth center.  The one closest to me is an hour away too, and I think that would make it too much traveling to and fro.  So that's another thing to consider when making our choices.  If I lived nearer to one I would be more inclined to choose the birth center.

 

I hope you have a wonderful birth no matter where you choose, OP :)


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Old 11-05-2012, 12:39 PM
 
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My least favorite parts, visitors were allowed in the room immediately after the birth when I was still nude and bleeding and I also felt rushed out after the birth. I think we stayed a total of 2 hours afterwards and I was just so exhausted I did not enjoy having to gather everything and get in the car.

 

This sounds much more extreme than what I've heard happens at most birth centers. I'm sorry you had this experience!

I've never heard of any birth center or hospital letting visitors into your room without you explicitly asking/allowing people in, so I'm shocked they let people in without your permission. I would have to think this is very rare anomaly. If someone was really worried about this happening to herself, she could write it into her birth plan that she doesn't want visitors until X-Y-Z happens, but again, I think the norm is for your partner to go retrieve the visitors when you tell your partner you want them.

I also think it's unusual for a birth center to get you out of there 2 hours after birth. 6 hours seems to be more the norm I've heard. The birth center I used said 6 hours is usual but requires 12 hours if you have Group B Strep, for extra monitoring of the baby. I didn't have strep the first time and stayed about 8-9 hours, I think, simply because of the time of day she was born--they weren't going to kick me out in the early hours of the morning!--and because I was having some latch problems and they didn't want me to leave until I had successfully breastfed her. The second time I had strep, but again, because of the time he was born, ended up staying about 15 hours, I think. I didn't feel rushed to get out of there either time, and was more than ready to leave when the time came!

I think about 6 hours is about perfect. You have plenty of time to get cleaned up, breastfeed, take a short nap, and all that stuff, but after that I'd rather be back in the comfort of my own bed. All you're going to be doing after that point is nursing, sleeping, and eating, so you might as well sleep in your own comfy bed and eat your own yummy food. So the short stay at a birth center is an advantage to me, not a downside. But yes, 2 hours is really short, and you should never feel rushed. Sounds like a poor birth center or perhaps just some staff having an "off" day to me!

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Old 11-05-2012, 02:00 PM
 
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I also did not feel rushed out of the birth center after giving birth, I am sorry you had that experience StacyAnn.  Our birth center required a minimum of 6 hour stay after birth when I had my firstborn, but by the time my second came along they had reduced the required time to 4 hours.  They said many people requested to go home sooner and felt ready.  I stayed about 8 hrs with each of mine, because that is how long it took for me to feel rested and ready to go home.  Maximum stay is up to 24 hours, but they said usually the people who chose to stay that long had very long labors or gave birth birth during the night and are exhausted.

 

The required stay is for monitoring both mom and baby after birth.  Mom must be bleeding an appropriate amount (no hemorrhage) and needs to have gone to the bathroom by herself (some people feel lightheaded at first, or have swelling that prevents them from being able to pee).  Baby must be checked out by a doctor, and it is prearranged with your on-call pediatrician to come to the birth center when it is time.  Baby also must be breastfeeding well and have eliminated in their diaper.  I don't remember what the other requirements were, but that's the jist of it. Most people need a certain amount of time to meet all these requirements in just the first couple of hours.  It takes time to show you are physically ready, not just wanting to go home.

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Old 11-06-2012, 09:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am going to the birth center near me for a tour/info session tonight and am adding a question about minimum and maximum stays to my list. Thanks, ladies, for bringing up these questions for me!

31rubies - I would be hesitate to do an hour of travel each way for appointments and for labor/birth. The birth center near me is just 20 minutes away.

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Old 11-06-2012, 05:08 PM
 
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I am going to the birth center near me for a tour/info session tonight and am adding a question about minimum and maximum stays to my list. Thanks, ladies, for bringing up these questions for me!
31rubies - I would be hesitate to do an hour of travel each way for appointments and for labor/birth. The birth center near me is just 20 minutes away.

 

Yes, an hour each way definitely knocked the birth center off of my list, lol!  ( I read that you are close to the birth center in your area, I meant "too" as another reason I didn't choose a birth center, sorry for the confusion :)  Enjoy your tour tonight!


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Old 11-07-2012, 06:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, the birth center is gorgeous. Beautiful rooms each with its own tub.

But the financial side is freaking me out: even if we bill insurance we need to pay $3,900 by 36 weeks of the pregnancy, then they bill insurance and maybe you get a refund. They have a formula for refunds which takes into account the amount they bill insurance ($5,000-7,000) and the cost of the billing company, not just the amount the insurance pays vs what you paid. I find that a bit disappointing that they are essentially charging insurance clients more. My hubby didn't come with me since the tour was 7-8 and 8 is typically our kids' bedtime. (A bit awkward being the only one there without a husband.) I talked to him about the financial aspect and he said we don't we just pay them up front and then submit the charges to the insurance company ourselves. (With our planned homebirth, I did a ton of legwork with the insurance company and badgered them into coughing up as much money as I could get them to pay.) I guess it's a possibility but I don't know if they would hand over the super bill to us and if they did things that way, they might put their true fee instead of the inflated fee. I am going to try to call my insurance company to ask about out of hospital birth coverage. Perhaps homebirth with a midwife with a more straightforward refund policy might make more sense financially....

I really wish that I didn't have to consider the financial aspect in my birth choice.

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Old 11-07-2012, 12:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Had a depressing call with an insurance rep today: homebirth is not covered at all and the birth center can only be covered as out of network. The option that makes sense financially is a group of hospital birth midwives. I will have to badger my hubby into agreeing to hire a doula because in that case, I want to labor at home for a long time.


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