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Discussion Starter #1
As dh and I ttc, I am (still) investigating birth options in DC and I'm getting very frustrated that nothing seems to fit my needs/wants. Can people tell me about their various experiences with hospital birth, birth center birth, and homebirth?<br><br>
Here's my situation: dh and I will be living in NW DC; we will not have a car, and I don't have a driver's license, anyway. I am very committed to a natural, drug-free birth. My preference would be a birth center, but I can't find one that seems accessible and/or in which the midwives have hospital privileges (my sister has a uterine anamoly that required a c/s; because of the possibility that it may be genetic, I want to at least be prepared for a possible transfer, but I am VERY worried about transferring to a hospital where my primary care provider has no priviliges and may not be able to advocate for the birth I want). I would consider a hospital birth w/ a CNM, although it's a pretty depressing prospect for me--and I've heard that many DC midwives (the Takoma Park practice, for example) are highly interventive. Homebirth also seems like a good possibility to me, although I think it will be a real battle convincing dh (mostly b/c it will be our first) and I'm not sure if I feel comfortable doing a homebirth in an apt.<br><br>
Any insight will be greatly, greatly appreciated.
 

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I think your best bet would be Birth Care in Alexandria. They do homebirths, have a birth center, and are on the Metro line. I'm not very familiar with other homebirth midwives in the area, but from the midwifery practices I'm familiar with, it's probably your best bet.<br><br>
ETA: I don't think the Birth Care midwives have hospital priveleges, but they do have backup doctors at several area hospitals and remain with you during the birth.<br><br><a href="http://www.birthcare.org/about.html" target="_blank">http://www.birthcare.org/about.html</a>
 

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I agree, it sounds like BirthCare would be your best bet, esp. if you won't have a car. It's metro accesible, and I would assume that even if they don't have priviledges per se, they are used to hospital transfers and the docs/nurses probably know them and they will advocate for you. You may also want to have a doula to be sure that you have someone there standing up for what you want.<br><br>
As far as interventions, I don't know about the Takoma Midwives, but they are also metro accesible- however, only do hosp. births so that would be a whole nother can of worms to consider. And Sibley Hosp. is not that accessible.<br><br>
Oh!! I almost forgot! There is another birth center IN DC! I forget the exact name of it but maybe someone else can tell you- something like The DC Birth Center. Their backup hosp. is Washington Hosp. Center. That might be a very good option for you!<br><br>
Best wishes with ttc and moving!
 

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Something to know about birthcare. Even in a homebirth, the do not "allow" water births. Laboring in the water is fine, but they "require" that you get out for the actual delivery.<br>
Trisha
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">Something to know about birthcare. Even in a homebirth, the do not "allow" water births. Laboring in the water is fine, but they "require" that you get out for the actual delivery.<br>
Trisha</div>
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The Maternity Center does this too. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/angry.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="angry"> I would also imagine that you would not be able to have a waterbirth in the hospital, if that's important to you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the responses. I'm really interested in hearing from people who have actually given birth at any of these places, at any of the DC hospitals, or at home with a midwife (recommendations welcome). I've checkout most of the birth centers online, but it's impossible to get a feel for what they're *really* like--and of course I'll visit them, but I also want to hear about the stuff that I won't learn on a tour.<br><br>
Thanks again!
 

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Since you said you were interested in experiences giving birth at hospitals, here's mine:<br><br>
I gave birth at Holy Cross Hospital. I chose to stay with the OB/GYN I'd been seeing for more than 10 years, because we have a good relationship and I feel comfortable with him. While I probably would have chosen a midwife attended birth otherwise, I felt that particularly since this was my first child, I'd rather stay with someone who really knew me well. Anyway, my doctor delivers at Holy Cross, so that's where we went.<br><br>
Holy Cross has a doula service, which we opted for despite the additional cost. My husband and I both thought we would be more comfortable with the birth if we had someone there whose only responsibility was to support us during the birthing process, and we thought it would be advantageous to have a doula who had a good understanding of the hospital procedures and policies. One of the disadvantages of the doula service is that you don't know in advance which doula will be providing your care, though you do have an opportunity to meet all of the doulas ahead of time if you want to.<br><br>
Anyway, I found the hospital's insistence on an IV and extensive monitoring annoying. (The monitoring was annoying primarily because I had to lie still on my back for 20 minutes every hour so I could be monitored -- otherwise the belts kept slipping. I found lying on my back very painful.) When I wasn't being monitored, I was allowed to move around, sit on the birthing ball, etc. I didn't find dragging the IV along with me nearly as annoying as I had expected. Decisions about pain relief were left entirely up to me, and I didn't feel that anyone was trying to pressure me to have an epidural or other medication.<br><br>
I was encouraged to hold my daughter right after the birth (I'm not sure if that was my doctor's doing or a standard procedure), though I think I waited until after she'd been examined and cleaned to initiate breastfeeding (it's all a bit of a blur. I do remember that she latched right on like a pro!). They didn't take her from the room at any time -- she was being attended to about 2 yards from my bed, while I was being examined and sewn up (I had a minor tear).<br><br>
I really liked the experience we had after the birth. All of the rooms are private, so my husband was able to spend the night on the sofa. Rooming-in is standard, and the hospital staff was very supportive of breastfeeding. Lactation consultants were available, and stopped by at least once a day without being asked for. Nobody ever tried to offer my daughter a bottle or pacifier. They even had a glider in the room. The nurses were helpful when my husband and I asked for help learning how to take care of our daughter. Nobody tried to stop me from getting dressed in real clothes or taking walks around the halls.<br><br>
So I'd say that while the actual birth experience wasn't the most enthralling ever, it wasn't awful as hospital births go. And the post-childbirth experience was about as good as I could have hoped for in a hospital setting.
 

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I had a birth at Shady Grove Hospital, which is the hospital The Maternity Center midwives are affiliated with. And I also had a birth at the Mat Center birth center. I would never recommend Shady Grove unless you are very mainstream, OK with your baby receiving formula, OK with sharing a postpartum room, OK with your baby going to the nursery at night, and OK with an OB. Shady Grove has one of the top NICUs in the <b>country</b>, so it is definitely where you want to be if you're dealing with prematurity or health problems. I delivered there with a midwife from MC, and the birth itself was fine, but I hated the hospital.<br><br>
I have two friends who recently gave birth at Holy Cross -- both VERY mainstream, one had a scheduled section, and they were both unhappy with the care they received there.<br><br>
I have several friends who have delivered at Sibley and loved it -- nothing but positive things to say. But you said you won't have a car, and there is no public transportation out there. (No car will most likely be a challenge in the DC area. After coming from NY, where there is public transit everywhere, you might find it frustrating that there is little in terms of public transportation in many areas.)<br><br>
My MC birth center birth was a great experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The stories are really helpful--thanks. Another MDC mom told me that Sibley had around a 30% c/s rate, so that makes me nervous. I'm not so worried about the lack of car, though--we have friends with cars and we'll likely have a Zipcar membership, so I think we would be able to arrange transport to the hospital if that's the way I went (heck, we could even take a cab if it was an emergency). The car issue has more to do with regular prenatal appointments, since dh is the only one with a license.<br><br>
Keep those stories coming, ladies!
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">I had a birth at Shady Grove Hospital, which is the hospital The Maternity Center midwives are affiliated with. And I also had a birth at the Mat Center birth center. I would never recommend Shady Grove unless you are very mainstream,</div>
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I'd like to hear more about Shady Grove if anyone has more to tell. My son was born at 37 weeks at the birth center, so I am living in fear that this next one will be days shy of 37 wks and I'll end up at Shady Grove (Can't deliver at MC unless you are 37 weeks)! I went there when I had a m/c and d&c, and the care was excellent, I have nothing but great things to say about it- but of course outpatient surgery has nothing to do with the l&d and postpartum units!<br><br>
How soon will they 'let' you go home after delivery? I would want to leave almost immediately. And I wouldn't allow the baby to be separated from me or my husband at any time and would want the baby in bed/in the room with me- impossible?? I would be afraid of signing out AMA and having them think I was an unfit parent or something!
 

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I don't know about how soon they will let you go home -- that has to do with when the midwives are willing to release you, but more importantly, when the pediatrician is willing to release the baby. The midwives would probably be fine with you staying six hours, but most peds want a 24 hour stay, 48 if you are GBS+.<br><br>
When I gave birth there, there are only a small handful of private rooms available, done on a first-come, first-served basis. And of course, I didn't get one. It was Memorial Day weekend and there was a big storm and a full moon -- everyone was having babies. My roommate was horrible -- but that's not the fault of the hospital, I suppose. She had an endless parade of visitors, was constantly watching TV, and I could not get any rest. I had to walk past her and her visitors to get to the bathroom. So, me on my wobbly post partum legs, dripping blood, would have to walk past all of these people, because the curtains do not close around the foot of the bed. There was no way to create privacy. The rooms are *quite* small, especially considering that there are two people sharing. My friend who delivered at a military hospital nearby had a single room bigger than my shared room. There was nowhere for husbands to stay -- there was only one chair on each side of the room. And when you have a shared room, all guests must leave at 8:00 pm. We ignored the rule and had the nursing supervisor come in and ask DH to leave.<br><br>
So, the rule was that the baby can only be in the room with you if the lights are <b>on</b>. If you want the lights off, the baby must go to the nursery. Believe me, I fought this tooth and nail. I had my pediatrician, the midwife, my husband, talking to *hospital management* about it. It was <b>not</b> OK with me that my baby sleep in the nursery. They would not budge -- their insurance required that the lights be on if the baby was in the room so the nurses could see to come in. I said fine, whatever, decided to ignore them, kept the baby near me, and shut the lights off so I could rest. I kid you not, the nurses would come in and turn them back on. I had been up all night and all day, was exhausted and just wanted to sleep, and I am one of those people who needs it to be quiet and dark in order to rest. I finally relented, because I was *that* tired, on the condition that they bring DS to me as soon as he woke up.<br><br>
I woke up in a start four hours later, no DS. I got up, shuffled past my roommate, made my way to the nursery to find the nursese FEEDING MY BABY A BOTTLE OF FORMULA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had gone to great lengths to avoid this very scenario -- there were orders from the midwife, verbal and written instructions from me, a sign in the bassinette, etc. The next morning, I had the lactation consultant and the midwife contact hospital management. The nurse manager came in and apologized to me on the day I was leaving.<br><br>
The postpartum experience was just hellish. I left there exhausted and angry. Now, the Labor and Delivery unit (yes, they move you shortly after the birth) was lovely -- newly remodeled with whirlpool tubs. Huge private rooms, etc.
 

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I had both of my girls at Holy Cross - I had a few conditions which made a hospital birth just more practical. I loved it both times. All of their PP rooms are now private, the couch turns into a bed for DH. They pretty much require your child to room in with you and basically leave you alone to recover and heal with your infant. I only had problem with one nurse who was just a bit mean, but the rest were fabulous - and that is just the kind of thing that you can never tell about.
 

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I had a homebirth with BirthCare and I can't possibly find one bad thing to say. I transferred to them at 28 weeks and loved my prenatal care, loves my appts (drove 1.5 hours each way to get them too!!) and my birth was a great experience despite a placenta that took 2.5 hours to come out (that way not the midwifes fault though <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1">). I loved my midwife (liked them all, but loved the one who delivered me), loved the birth assistant, and really just had a great experience. I have friends from NOVA that delivered at their birth center and had a great experience too, despite a really long labor. They have one night once a month for tours and meet/greets..
 
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