I recently found out that I am pregnant and have been researching my birthing options. My sister had a wonderful home birth experience and is a big home birth advocate. I know that I don't want an intervention filled hospital birth, if I can at all avoid it. I really want a natural water birth, if at all possible, but something is keeping me back from committing to a home birth.
From what I can tell, other than home birth, the only option for a water birth in the Chicago area is at the ABC rooms at West Suburban Hospital with the West Suburban Midwife Assoc. I've scheduled a consultation appt with them in May and I'm hopeful they will be a good "compromise" between home birth and hospital birth.
I've only been able to find good reviews of WSMA and the ABC rooms there. I'm wondering if anyone out there has had a negative experience? Has anyone been ready to labor there only to find that the rooms were already full and they had to go to the regular L&D rooms at the hospital? Anyone with any experience with starting out in the ABC rooms and then having to transfer to L&D for some reason?
The other midwife group/hospital I might consider is the midwife group at Swedish Covenant. The nice this is that SCH is only about 10 minutes from where I live and WSH is 45min to 1 hr away. But I've read that while you can labor in a tub there you cannot give birth in the tubs.
If anyone has experience with any of these providers or have any thoughts to share, I would appreciate it.
Yes, I had a really negative experience giving birth to my first with the WSMA in the ABC, although this was over 8 years ago (I opted to birth my 2 younger children in a different hospital as my DH/parents made me promise tat I would never set foot back in W. Sub again).
You can feel free to PM me if you want lengthy details but in a nutshell while the ABC itself is really lovely and the concept is a great one, W. Sub hospital is sub par in my opinion and in my experience, and there was a serious disconnect between the ABC and the rest of the hospital when problems actually arose.
To offer some highlights (lowlights?)I had complications immediately after my drug-free water birth and the care that I received in the hospital seriously put my life at risk. I was also disappointed with the lack of support to care for my baby. In the end I had 3 blood transfusions (6 units total) and surgery to address my complications. When I had to go in for surgery my baby could not be given my milk for a while due to the general that I was being given. I had expressed milk and asked about getting a finger feeder due to concerns about nipple confusion (told no) then asked about a syringe to feed her (a hospital has to have a syringe right?) The MW from WSMA told me that of course the hospital had syringes but she seriously doubted that anyone would take the time to bring me one. In the end, there was such a delay between when they gave me the meds and when I actually got into an OR that they had to give her my expressed milk before I even went in for surgery and she ended up being given formula while I was recovering.....I needed to have oxygen in the ABC while I was hemorrhaging following the birth and the MWs couldn't figure out how to move the oxygen mask close enough to the big bed in there so they ended up rolling the bed as close as they could and I was literally hanging out of the bed in order to keep the mask on my face....I needed periodic blood draws to check my crit and the blood draw people in the hospital couldn't figure out how to turn on the lights in the ABC since they weren't used to working in there. They wouldn't take the time to go ask an ABC nurse how to turn the lights on (as I requested) so they just jabbed at me in the dark until they lucked into a vein....when I had my second hemorrhage in the hospital 2 days after my DD was born we frantically called the nurse. She stuck a pad between my legs and said she'd check back in 20 minutes and then asked me to get out of the bed so that she could change the sheets (I hadn't been able to even sit up in the 2 days because my blood count/BP was so low that if I sat up I'd start to pass out). They wouldn't page a doctor and I was just pouring out bright red blood so quickly that it was saturating the sheets.
I could go on and on and on with details of that whole experience that have been burned into my brain. I can't comment about how much of my medical issues were or were not related to the care that I received from the MWs specifically because I'm not a MW/doctor and don't exactly know what they should have known/done in my case or what the internal communication system is in the hospital between the ABC and the regular L&D. I will say that the MWs who worked with me while I was in the hospital are no longer with WSMA for whatever that's worth. I do not know how things have changed in the past 8 years, but I will say that back then the ABC/hospital was NOT prepared to safely and swiftly deal with complications and in sharing my story on MDC in the past I heard from others with similar experiences there. I KNOW that it is not the norm. The norm is an uncomplicated safe birthing experience, but when birthing threw curve balls in the ABC they didn't deal with it well. I can say with great conviction that had it not been for the strong and constant support and advocacy of my family I am pretty sure that I would have bled to death in that hospital.
I know that this is not at all what you or anyone else considering the ABC wants to hear, but you asked specifically about negative experiences and I would have to say that my experience there was really really negative.
I wish you all the best in whatever decision that you make and hope that you will be blessed with a beautiful and safe birth.
ETA: To offer some context, I've had 4 other serious medical procedures/ surgeries in 3 other Chicagoland hospitals since my birth at W. Sub. so I have some frame of reference for the ins and outs of hospitals and how they can deal more or less well with medical and patient care. W. Sub was in a class of its own across the board.
ETA again: I'm not sure where you live, but there are other hospitals that allow for water births (not just water labor). They may not have a setup like the ABC which is full on water birth pimped out, but they might have great MW groups and inflatable tubs available if you request a water birth in advance.
Lucy Coria CBrE
Brio Birth Childbirth Educator
I did have a bad experience with WSMA with the birth of my first son that I can explain to you if you'd like to pm me. I too had only heard good things about them so I was kind of surprised. Based on my experience with them I would not recommend them, though the ABC rooms are really lovely.
I birthed my second son in the ABC rooms this past November with the midwives from Midwifery and Womens Health http://www.oakparkmidwife.com and it was a great experience. They gave me just the right amount of support during birth when I needed it, and gave me space when I needed that too. I did hemorrage right after birth and I felt like they handled that well too.