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 Virginia area
We're expecting #2 in January and getting ready to move but I'm still probably going to continue going to SB even though it will be over an hour drive for me to get there, that's how much I love them
I have heard that Shady Grove has changed hugely in the past 5 years. A babies room with you. From what I have heard, they will do all testing in the room if requested. I know people who said the baby never left their side the whole time they were there. The rooms are private now. I had a horrible experience with DD #1, and questioned (interrogated frantically, lol!) many people who had babies there in the past year and they all said that the baby was never taken away from them at any point. They redesigned the whole maternity area.
I am a vbac, so I questioned the midwives a lot. Honestly it seems the epidural is up to the patient - I told them I didn't want one, they never gave me any indication they would give me one without my consent, the first one I had basically failed anyway. For me being a vbac, they will schedule me for a section at 42 weeks, which is better than Special Beginnings, which I was told was something like 41 weeks. But if your friend is not a vbac, no concern for that.
I was also told and read from a few forums - I have been researching them for a while since I have been pregnant, that the experience in the office is much different than actual delivery, and even the midwives I think are kind of duds (and other people agreed on these boards) turned out to be great experiences for them. So I guess I will know in 20 weeks. Mind you, I am not pushing them on anyone as being great and wonderful. I don't feel rushed during appointments - I BTDT, so I don't feel any "med" feel. I am advanced maternal age, and one midwife (the one I think is a dud - I am sure she is very nice, but not much of a personality during the exam) actually was talking me out of some genetic testing, and didn't seem to push the anatomy scan unless I wanted it. And yes if you are vbac, it needs to be approved by the OBs. I think that also might taint some people's experience.
As for labor, I was told specifically, don't come until late. So my feeling is not it's THEM, but the hands are tied by the OBs. So if you go too soon, yes you will get stick with some decisions being overridden by the OBs on duty. They told me not to come until I absolutely could not wait any longer. I took that as a warning, I come too soon and labor stalls, I'll get a repeat c-section or be induced. They don't do water births, I don't think, but not an option for me anyway because I am a vbac
They have a new midwife catching babies - who comes from working in a OB office, so she might be more "med" than the others, I did get that feeling with her. Some midwives have left. There is a great one there I HOPE so badly I get for delivery, she is great and I never heard a bad thing about her.
I have heard great things about Whitney Pinger at GWU, but I have also heard she books quickly.
I honestly think if she wants the best experience, she might want to hire a doula too.
But I agree, she'll likely do much better with a doula (and coming in later in labor) if she goes the hospital route.
We switched from MCA to Special Beginnings because MCA was not willing to be as low intervention as we wanted, and we were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with them. We LOVED Special Beginnings. Very supportive of low intervention.
I think when it came to VBAC, after talking with them, they had more restrictions than MCA (for example: they wouldn't let me go as long as MCA before scheduling a c-section) and they wouldn't deliver at the birth center anyway for VBAC.
It's best to call and get the scoop yourself. I know some places are okay with asking questions through email. I just wanted to make clear I was basing my comments on the above post because I am having a VBAC
Anyway, SGH was super nice, as were all but one night nurse I had. MCA midwives came by each day to check on me. Baby did leave with DH for hearing check and I was under the impression he HAD to leave my room for that. We did not have a doula or any family here, etc., and that was perfect. My DH was calm, cool, collected, supportive and all I needed. My midwife was great, too. We plan the same experience for our 2nd child.
As for DC Birth Center... I went over there 6 or so times, including taking one of their 4-night "classes." It is definitely rough around the edges overall... But we strongly considered giving birth there, as the birth rooms and doula we met were nice. I wouldn't rule it out for an uncomplicated pregnancy. NOW - Washington Hospital Center, where one would be transferred with complications, I could totally pass on. The rooms were TINY and not how I envisioned spending my first days with my newborn.
AP/SAHM to two under four
I'm glad that I avoided pharmaceutical and surgical interventions, the staff were committed to keeping me out of the hospital, the midwives and nurses were all wonderful.
I went there because I wasn't ready for home birth, in retrospect, it would have been nice to have a tub at home to labor in!
Also, I didn't have a doula, and definitely will if there's a next time.
I had my son with Birth Care in August and they were fantastic. I used their birth center rather than doing a home birth, but it was a great experience and very much like being in a home. I might have considered home birth more seriously if I lived elsewhere, but since I am only a 10 minute drive from the birth center, it didn't seem like a big deal to get in the car and drive there when the time came. Since it's a really small practice (I think they only take 30 clients a month), I really felt like I got to know everyone - the midwives and even the office staff - pretty well. It was nice to go in for my prenatal appointments and have them recognize me every time! Very different from most doctor's offices.
The birth and the postpartum care were really awesome with Birth Care though. My birth experience was great even though I had a fourth-degree tear with the delivery. They were actually able to call an OB at 4:00 in the morning to come and stitch me up (the midwives would repair most tears - but mine was very extensive and required an OB to do it). So I didn't even need to transfer to the hospital. After the birth, I had two home visits (one each from my midwife and birth assistant) within the first three days after he was born. Those were fantastic opportunities for me to ask questions, express concerns, etc. The baby was (and still is) very healthy - so it was really just my own healing that we needed to discuss. I also had my midwife and birth assistant's cell phone numbers so I could call them anytime (and I did!). One time when I felt I was having some issues with my stitches, the midwife saw me that same day and assured me everything was fine.
So, I know Birth Care would probably be more out-of-the-way for your friend, since their offices are in Virginia, but I would still consider it if I were her. They have info sessions twice a month (I think) and I would highly recommend attending. Also, if your friend even has the slightest possibility that she might want to go with Birth Care, she should call and go ahead and place herself on their list for her delivery month. They fill up fast - I called in late December 2009 for a September 2010 due date and I was first on the September list, but my friend who had an August due date called at the same time and got one of the very last slots for that month. If she decides not to go with Birth Care, she can always just call and remove herself from their list.
Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions about Birth Care. I just loved my experience so much!
Hi I had my son at Special Beginnings in November 2008. I loved the appointments, all the midwives were awesome and sweet. When it came down to the birth however the midwife I got turned into a medwife. I've heard the same thing from everyone who has delivered with her. If you want a more specific story you can PM me, I don't want to post negativity on a public forum.
Single, student mama
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I moved up here during my 7 month of pregnancy. Went to the Birth Center in DC first, after I had tried Whitney Pinger and Birth Care, both told me they had waiting lists. The midwives at the DC Birth Center seemed really nice. However I did not feel that comfortable there and was not crazy about the group appts. So I called Birth Care again and they gave me an appt. I went there for about a month and met most of the midwives during that time. But I never really felt a connection with any of them. I have heard lots of great things about these midwives though, so I guess it was just not a good match for me. I did meet some of the doulas who work with the Birth Care midwives and they were great. But at 35 weeks, I decided I would try Whitney one last time. They now have another midwife working with them so she was able to take me. I am so glad I switched. I had an amazing birth experience. All 3 midwives in the practice are fantastic. They deliver at George Washington University Hospital but without any unnecessary interventions. I had two of the midwives and a l&d deliver nurse in the room with me while I delivered, no other staff or students. One of the midwives stayed with me during my entire labor. I highly recommend them.
There is no other FSBC in the greater Baltimore area, so I know several people from my neck-of-the-woods who've gone to SB in Arnold. I've really heard mostly raves. One mama wasn't so crazy about one of the MWs for her 2008 birth, but that same MW isn't there anymore anyway. Otherwise, even that same mama said the place was great & everyone else - including my doula (now a MW-in-training) had 2 births there & raves.
I would think that commute-wise, it's also the much safer bet from the Bethesda area. At rush hour, I'd much rather be heading north than south & around 495!
Another point in favor of HB though is that, I think, most HB MWs have HOUR-LONG prenatal apts! (Mine does & I've read it's common.) Whereas my hospital-based CNMs had 15 min timeslots. (Although, to be fair, I never felt rushed.) Someone on another thread mentioned that for a first timer, this can really be a fabulous perk since you REALLY get to know the MW & the MW gives you a lot of support & gets to know you as a person (not just checking fundal height, FHT, BP, etc.)
Also, once I learned that, technology-wise, an FSBC has NOTHING that a HB MW doesn't bring with her, I totally ruled it out. What's the point of losing the comforts of home, driving in labor, gambling which MW you'll get, stricter rules, etc. with no safety benefits?? (Of course, if the FSBC is substantially closer to a hospital than you're home, that could make it relatively safer, but if that's not an issue, than yeah, it has NO safety benefit.)
There is also the Family Health and Birth Center (FHBC) in D.C. ... http://www.yourfhbc.org. Midwifery care and "birth groups" are available to all women. You can birth at the center or with the midwives at their hospital affiliate at Washington Hospital Center. Waterbirth is possible with FHBC as well! The midwives do post-partum visits and lactation support is offered. Doulas are available free of charge, too.
Michelle Wedge, AAHCC
Bradley Method ® Instructor
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