First, let me start this by saying I only consider myself like 60% crunchy. I babywear and had a water birth, but I also vaccinate and didn’t eat my placenta. I work in the medical field for my day job and I write my blog in my free time. I’m not the perfect example of a granola mom, and I’m not giving my child drugs every time they sneeze. I’m average, I guess. I’m a mama who makes her own decisions in an informed way and sometimes they fall to the left and sometimes to the right. If there is one thing I’m very passionate about, it’s my babies and how they (and myself) are cared for.
Recently, The News & Observer published a poorly written, misinformed article about my beloved birth center, baby+co., on their website. This article has been changed and updated several times since it was published yesterday afternoon. You can view the most recent update here.
I’m a mom who has had two very different birth experiences. With my son, I was with a traditional OBGYN practice and had an induction in a hospital in High Point. For my daughter, I was lucky enough to have a natural, unmedicated birth at baby+co. in Cary. I can say with 100% confidence that I had a more supportive, empowered, and SAFER experience throughout my prenatal care and my birth with my daughter at baby+co.
I can recall a time in my pregnancy with my son where I asked my OBGYN if they offered water births at the hospital I’d be birthing in and his response was, “Babies die when they are born in the water. It’s very risky.” I was so shocked by his response, I didn’t respond. I thought back to the video I had watched only a few days prior called The Business of Being Born. This documentary had convinced me of a natural birth but since it was my first pregnancy and I was already in the third trimester, I gave up that dream for next time.
Cut to five years later and I’m pregnant with my daughter and I actually have the choice to birth at a birth center – IN WATER! I did my research and I spoke with the midwives who assured me that a water birth is extremely safe. The baby doesn’t breathe until it touches air. Experiencing a natural, water birth with my daughter was moving, emotional, and one of the best birth experiences I could have had. I never once questioned her safety or mine. Birth centers are for low-risk pregnancies and baby+co. has a series of guidelines you need to stay within during your entire pregnancy to be able to have your birth at their center. I fell within these guidelines.
Baby+co. is in the spotlight now and not for good reasons. There have been 3 newborn deaths and a baby in the NICU in the past 6 months. A clustering like this is not the norm and they have temporarily (of their own will) halted births at the center to investigate. This is a GOOD thing. It means they care. They are doing their due diligence to ensure that this doesn’t continue. The public should also realize that this is not something that happens in birth centers with such frequency.
I took this as an opportunity to reach out to another local birthing center and they assured me they have had zero infant losses in the past 3 years, but also emphasized that any issues that may arise are typically caught in advance and those patients are sent to the hospital for the appropriate care. This is the same practice baby+co. has. Just as much as anyone, I’d like to know what happened in these cases, but I’m not going to let this news deter me from having another natural birth at a birthing center and I will trust that baby+co. gets to the root of the issue and fixes it. Hospitals lose babies too, but because there are so many people (and press) still skeptical about natural and holistic practices, birth centers are attacked in a way that no hospital ever is. It sets the entire natural parenting community back when articles such as this one are written in such a negative and misinformed light.
Birthing centers follow a European care model that has worked for Europe. The US has always had very high cesarean and infant fatality rates, double the amount of many first world countries in Europe who have midwives at the helm of their care. They are doing something right that we just haven’t grasped yet, and the rise of birth centers is hopefully changing this. In 2013, a study was completed with 15,574 women across the US who planned to give birth at birthing centers. The c-section rate for these women ended up being only 6%, far below the 27% US average in the same low-risk population.
I won’t let something like this stop me from being confident and empowered in my decision to have a natural birth in the future. I really hope it doesn’t for you either. Be an advocate for yourself. Get the answers you’re looking for and make an informed decision.
If you’d like to talk, please feel free to connect with me via email or social media. You can read about Why I Chose a Birth Center Birth here. Here’s a great website for information about births based on evidence.