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Prenatal Care at a Birth Center

We’ve had several mommas share their natural child birth experiences here on the blog before.  I shared mine on my personal blog here.  But what we didn’t cover in detail was the difference in care you get from going to a Birth Center.

I started off my first pregnancy with an OBGYN and wanted to share my comparison.  *Disclaimer — since natural childbirth is not for everyone, please don’t think I’m knocking all OBGYNs.  It’s absolutely perfect for most people and you probably had a better experience than I had.  But for me, the experience was as follows.*

Appointments at the OBGYN:  Arrive on time and stand behind glass until someone wants to acknowledge me.  Wait anywhere from 20 – 45 minutes to be called back.  Wait another 10 minutes or more for the Dr.  Meanwhile the nurse would weigh me and have a comment (always fun) and take my blood pressure. Dr. was nice but talked mostly to her laptop while I was there, looking up every once in a while.  Done in no less than an hour.
Testing:  I must have had my blood drawn half a dozen times.  And every time I would ask if it was absolutely necessary and was told it was.  Then I’d get reports back that there was a 15-20% chance of something being wrong and I would have no clue what to do with that information.  Should I be worried?  It seems low, but  now that you told me about the possibility how could I not worry about it?
Sonograms:  They were fun, but by the 5th one at 16 weeks and a trip to a specialist (that turned out fine) I was beginning to wonder if they were making up reasons for me to get them.
Questions and concerns:  When I told the Dr. about my wish to have a natural birth she basically said “Okay, we’ll see”.  Not in those exact words, but I could tell she didn’t put much merit into my wishes.

Needless to say I was not happy with my care.  And the more I looked into natural childbirth options the more I learned about Birth Centers.  It took one visit to the Allen Birth Center, a million questions and a million great answers and I was in love and made the switch.

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Appointments at the Birth Center:  Arrive on time at a beautiful historic home in Allen and greeted with a smile.  Allowed to weigh myself (they just believe what you tell them, imagine that!) and wait no more than 5 minutes ever. I always get a hug from whichever Midwife I’m seeing that day and I feel so welcome.  She ask how I am feeling and if I have any concerns. And then really listens.  Then she wants to know about our move or about how the Arboretum was because she saw on Facebook that we were just there (yup, we’re Facebook friends too).   She takes my blood pressure and then we listen to the baby’s heartbeat.  Usually I have Miles with me and he plays with the toys they have in the room and is perfectly happy!  I’m done in less than 30 minutes and feel like I’ve just chatted with a friend.
Testing:  I am now given a choice on which tests I want to take.  They have taken blood twice (at most, suddenly I can’t remember if it was even that many) and they ran the basic tests that they have to run.  But other than that we didn’t want to know what percentage of risk for some rare disease we might have.  And we didn’t have to.
Sonograms: You get 1.  Unless there is a real reason for more.
Questions and concerns:  For a healthy pregnancy the risks are low that something will go wrong.  They check for all the same things that your OBGYN would check for and then just let your body do the rest.  Any time I’ve had a question or concern about anything they listen and I get a straight forward answer.  And I always walk away feeling like I’ve learned something from these knowledgeable women.  

Cost comparison:  Since most insurance companies consider a birth center out of network they cover 60% instead of 80%.  Unless you can get them to approve a waiver, which is difficult but worth asking.  But the cost of a birth center birth is so much less than hospital costs.  Depending on what your insurance covers and what your deductibles are, you could end up paying less out of pocket!  It’s definitely worth asking and comparing.  And since insurance never fails to confuse me, I’ve had Janice from the birth center explain things to me a million times so I could understand and compare.  And she never minds taking the time to walk me through it until I know I’m getting the best deal possible!

Obviously I’ve loved every bit of our care and birth experience there!  After we had Miles, I had no doubt I would birth there again!

Like I mentioned, birth centers are not for everyone and I have many friends who love their OBGYN and loved their birth experience with them.  You have to find what’s right for you and be confident in your choice.  But if you wonder if a birth center is right for you — I definitely recommend touring one and asking as many questions as you can.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll never want to leave!

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7 Responses to Prenatal Care at a Birth Center

  1. Kira July 16, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    Such a great post!! I had a similar experience at my birth center in Dallas, had both daughter’s at the Dallas Birth Center and LOVED it! I wish I could keep going back there for all medical appointments, ha!! It makes me want to have more kids, just for the laid back and calm experience I received there. Thanks for posting!

    • Amanda Lauro
      Amanda Lauro July 16, 2013 at 10:20 am #

      i know exactly what you mean Kira! I sincerely missed them after Miles was born, thats why we became Facebook friends!! And I would love to have all my medical appointments there too if I could! 🙂 Glad you liked the post… they are so easy to write about!!

  2. Hannah @ Boots & Feet July 16, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Out of curiosity, did you have an uneventful, natural birth with your first child?

    • Amanda Lauro
      Amanda Lauro July 16, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

      Hannah – it was fairly uneventful. 36 hours of labor, 2 hours of pushing. My placenta did get stuck after Miles was born and we almost went to the hospital for that. But Amy was amazing and took great care of me and we avoided the hospital thanks to her!!

  3. Lisa July 16, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    I had my second baby at Allen Birthing Center and loved it as well! Will have any future children there too. 🙂

  4. Kristen July 29, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    What a good post that tells some of the key differences–I always get questions like this when I tell people both of my girls were born out of a hospital. My first was born at Nativiti Birth Center in The Woodlands 5 years ago and my second was born at home 10 months ago with Kathleen Mayorga from Bella Births in McKinney.

    I love the personal care from midwives. We always had plenty of time to discuss exactly what my concerns were. I was able to advocate for things in my care which were important to me. Where things were not absolutely necessary, we could eliminate them. Where there was room for compromise, we did. For example, I didn’t want to drink that nasty sugar drink for the glucose test. While Kathleen laid out her reasons for still wanting a glucose test, we were able to agree on a normal meal I could eat which would give her the same type of insight.

    And my birth in the birth center and at home were really good experiences. Both of them had their challenges, that in a hospital setting, I fear would have been overmanaged and had very different outcomes. I’m such a strong advocate for midwives, and I love to see great blogs like this that I can share with friends and family who ask.

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