These days there are more options for where to give birth in Corpus Christi than ever before: home, birth center, or hospital.
If you have come to this page, it is likely that you are at least considering giving birth somewhere besides in a hospital. Obviously, the Corpus Christi Birth Center (CCBC) offers you the wonderful option of giving birth in a beautiful, free standing birth center that feels more like a bed-n-breakfast than a medical facility. So obviously we want you to consider us for your birth location choice.
But putting aside personal bias for a moment, I also have some things that I believe you should consider when asking yourself the question, “Where should I give birth?”
Let me start by sharing with you some of the results of a survey we took of 100 women. We asked them to rank by order of importance what they considered most important when choosing a maternity care provider. Among the things listed to rank by order of importance was one that said “where I give birth.”
That survey led to a number of interesting discoveries. But for the purposes of this article I want to focus on how the women ranked “where I give birth”. Before we can answer the question about location, we have to first put “location” in its proper place (yeah, pun intended).
Only 7 out of the 100 participants in our survey ranked birth location as their number one most important consideration when choosing a provider. As a midwife, I have to admit that at one time I too might have ranked location higher up on my list. But years of experience have taught me a lot of things regarding this subject of location. My perspective has changed (I’d like to think matured) a little bit over the years.
Hearing lots of birth stories is an “occupational hazard” for a midwife. I hear them from a wide variety of women with a wide variety of experiences. When I meet a woman for the first time and she finds out that I am a midwife, she just instinctively tells me her birth story. Over the last 16 years or so, this has happened to me more times than I can count.
Over the years, many women have come to me with a history of disappointing birth experiences looking for something better. Especially when so many of the “horror stories” I hear involve hospital births, it might be tempting to jump to the conclusion that location is a big part of the problem.
The trouble with that line of reasoning is that the hospital stories aren’t all bad. Women also tell wonderful birth stories involving birth at hospitals, as well as birth centers and at home. There are also some disappointing (and some outright horrible) birth stories involving other birth settings besides hospitals.
My point is that while birth location may be an important thing to consider, it is not necessarily the most important thing to consider. Evidently most of the participants in our survey agreed with me on this point. As I said, only 7 out of 100 ranked birth location as their most important consideration. Most women ranked “quality of care” and “experience, training and reputation” of the care provider higher than they ranked “where I give birth.”
Furthermore, as I was recalling the birth stories I’ve heard over the years (both good and bad), the stories could not be easily classified as good or bad based solely upon whether or not the woman chose a midwife. Don’t get me wrong, the midwife model of care is key to quality care in my opinion. After all, I am a midwife myself! So I believe the midwife model of care is the best model of care for low risk women.
But even midwives can be disrespectful to their clients. Also, experience and training can vary significantly from midwife to midwife. And some do not practice according to good standards, even if they were trained to do so. But that’s another topic entirely.
So let’s get back to the original question: “Where should I give birth?”
Assuming that you’ve made a good choice for a care provider—who has experience, training and is of good reputation and therefore provides quality care—you still need to decide where you will give birth. Otherwise, you probably would not be reading this article, right?
First of all, I need to point out that there is nothing magical about a birth location based solely upon its location any more than there is anything magical about choosing a care provider based solely upon the “kind” of provider you choose (whether doctor or midwife). Just as you should always ask any potential provider lots of questions to determine their qualifications and whether or not they can meet your needs, you should also ask lots of questions when determining the best birth location for your situation.
Below I have compiled a detailed list of aspects to consider when choosing your birth location. I have listed as many as I could think of, but don’t be afraid to add something of your own if you don’t find it on the list.
Things to consider when choosing a birth location
- Where can your preferred birth attendant attend the birth of your baby? If location is not the most important decision and if choosing the right birth attendant and birth team is the more important, then you must consider also where your preferred attendant can delivery your baby. If you choose a doctor who does nothing but hospital deliveries, then obviously that means you must choose a hospital if you want that doctor to deliver. Likewise if you choose a midwife who does not have hospital or birth center privileges or maybe one who does not do home birth then this also must be taken into consideration. But remember to keep your priorities of what’s most important to you in mind.
- Will your preferred birth attendant be able to personally attend your birth and if not, are you okay with their back-up plan? Most doctors and some midwives are not always on-call all the time 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- Is the birth environment clean? The space should not be cluttered. The floors and other surfaces should be clean. There should be fresh linens on the bed. The floors ideally should not have carpet or rugs so that they aren’t as likely to be harboring any additional dirt, germs or bacteria. They also need to be easily cleaned and disinfected after the birth. The cleanest environment is also a pet and smoke free environment. Birth is not “sterile,” but the environment ideally should be very clean.
- Does the birth environment have adequate space? You should have plenty of room to walk around and your birth attendants (along with any equipment they need) should have easy access to attend to all of your needs. Your family and support members should also be comfortable in the space and no one should forbid you access to them (unless it is your desire to be left alone).
- Is the birth space aesthetically appealing? Looks may not be everything, but if you don’t particularly like the way a place looks, you probably won’t be as comfortable laboring there. Likewise, if you like the way your environment looks, you will tend to feel more relaxed.
- Do you feel safe in your birth space? Obviously your birth environment should actually be safe and free from hazards. But it is also important that you feel safe. A woman who does not feel safe will not progress well in labor. That is a fact.
- Is the birth room ready for birth when labor begins? If not, can it easily be made ready by someone other than the woman in labor? A laboring woman should not be burdened by things like laundry, vacuuming and mopping after her labor has begun. Even if it is early labor, she still needs to focus more on rest and relaxation rather than room preparations.
- Is the birth location easily accessible for both the client and emergency personnel in the event of an emergency? Consider first how difficult it is for you to get to the birth location, and second, how difficult it is for emergency personnel to get to you in an emergency situation. If out-of-hospital, the answer to this question involves not only distance the from the birth location to a hospital but also the speed and dependability of EMS services to the birth location and then to the hospital. (At CCBC, we are 2 minutes from dispatch to arrival of EMS and 10-15 minutes from the birth center to either hospital. EMS is also familiar with the birth center and experienced with transporting women in labor to the hospital.)
- Is there easy access to an adequate birthing tub if you’re planning to labor and/or give birth in water? For safety reasons a birth tub should only be filled with fresh water only after labor begins (and it should also be cleaned and refilled every 6 hours.) So it is important to have someone besides the laboring mom and her primary support person who are available to take care of the tub according to the best safety standards.
- Does the birth location include easy access to other labor aids, such as a birth ball, a rebozo, or birth stool?
- Is the room temperature in the room set for the mother’s comfort? This most likely means colder during active labor and warmer during the pushing stage. Adjusting temperature for mother sometimes means other people in the room may not be as comfortable.
- Is the light in the birth place easily adjustable? The light in the birth place should be dim and never bright unless absolutely necessary. However, bright lighting should also be available if needed during a complication or emergency.
- Is the birth environment quiet and peaceful? The sounds in the birth place should be kept quiet and soothing, and the use of music during labor should be allowed and used at the mother’s discretion. Too many people entering and leaving the room or a TV playing, or people talking or children crying are examples of noises that disrupt labor.
- Is the bed comfortable and easy to clean after the birth? There should be lots of comfortable pillows available that are also easy to clean (covered in a waterproof covering). There should be plenty of blankets and towels available as well.
- What will the birth environment be like after the birth? Will you be allowed to rest and bond with as little interruption as possible? Or will there be a lot of hustle and bustle going on around you, possibly disrupting your need for rest and bonding? If you choose to give birth somewhere besides your own home, will you be asked to leave or move rooms before you are ready to be moved or go home? Will your baby be taken to another room? Will you be allowed to go home when you want to go home or will you be required to stay longer than you desire? If you are at home, will you be subjected to additional disruptions while the house is cleaned and put back in order after the birth? Who will stay around and be responsible for all the clean-up and where will you be able to rest while that cleaning is done?
- Will your privacy and space be respected at all times? In other words, while you are using the birth space—whether you are in your own bedroom, or in a birth center or a hospital room—that space should be considered your space! Location should not make a difference with regards to the respect you are given. But you will need to make sure that your birth attendant and anyone else attending your birth knows to respect your privacy and space!
As you went through this list, you may or may be able to find a hospital that takes care of all of these details and considerations. You may or may not be able to take care of all of these details in your own home. That’s okay. At the Corpus Christi Birth Center, all of these details are very important to us and we take care of them for you whether you choose to give birth in your own home or at our birth center (we provide services at either location). You won’t have to concern yourself with these details; you will be able to focus on labor. Out of everything on this list, the only thing we cannot guarantee is that our birth center is conveniently located for everyone interested in giving birth here.
However, we are centrally located in Corpus Christi and most of our clients are less than 20 minutes away. But some have come from a further distance just because they believe the longer drive is worth it for all the other benefits we offer. We hope that you will agree. And we also hope that you will seriously consider the Corpus Christi Birth Center as a wonderful place to give birth. If you prefer home birth, we are able to offer home birth services a well to most clients.
Please give us a call to discuss your options in detail. We look forward to hearing from you!
For the full results of that survey, see http://www.ccbirthcenter.com/survey-says.