After our visit, my husband and I agreed that the birth center was exactly what we'd been looking for -- a place where I could trust that my instincts would be honored and supported.
But I had some concerns. I wished the center were closer to our home, and I was worried about the 12-hour discharge policy. I knew I would need plenty of rest after the birth and wasn't sure how I'd get any with a 2-year-old and 4-year-old running around at home. In order to make a birth- center delivery work, I'd need lots of help and support from my family.
I was lucky -- I talked to my mother and some other family members and was delighted to hear that they supported my decision and offered to help.
With the help issue out of the way, Marc and I considered how far away the center was and decided that distance wasn't a deterrent. My previous labors were not fast, and the chance to labor in such a supportive environment was well worth the drive.
But there were other things to consider beyond help and convenience. I believe that birth is a natural process, but many medical professionals believe it's a risky business best suited for a hospital. I didn't want to put my baby or myself at risk, so I did some digging and found that all the research supported the safety of birth centers:
- A study of 12,000 birth-center births published in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated no maternal deaths, a greatly reduced c-section rate, and good infant outcomes.
- Birth-center staff are certified in lifesaving techniques for mother and baby, and emergency equipment and medication are always on hand.
- If necessary, my baby or I could quickly be transferred by ambulance to a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit; in fact, I was closer to high-level care at the birth center than at my local hospital.
So with just seven weeks to go before delivery, I transferred to the Madison Birth Center. From that moment, I saw that the birth center was very different from what I was used to. Prenatal visits included all the usual checks, but I weighed myself and did my own urine dip, using special sticks to check for protein or sugar. Together, Aszani and I discussed everything from family and pregnancy to ways to cope with birth. It was wonderful to have such rapport with a healthcare provider.