Just in case you didn't know, I'm not giving birth at a hospital this time around. Well, at least I'm not intending to give birth at a hospital; an induction like last time would mean a hospital birth, but I'm doing things to prevent that this time around.
Do I feel like I had a bad experience last time? No, Sharp Mary Birch is an excellent hospital and worked out well for my first birth.
However, the more moms I talk to about their birth stories, the more I realize how lucky I was that I didn't end up with a Cesarean. It seems that a good chunk of the moms I've talked to have had a C-section and went into the whole birth experience intending to go as naturally as possible (like me) and then ended up giving birth as unnaturally as possible. Yes, there are a lot of reasons why the C-section rate in the US was up to 32% in 2007 (according to this data from the CDC) including increased use of drugs, women having children later in life, medical doctors fearing being sued, but I think the biggest problem is a lack of education on the part of the parents. So many pregnant women I knew wanted to give birth "naturally" but I didn't talk to a single one taking a Bradley class, Birthing from Within workshop, Brio Birth course, etc. Everyone I knew (myself included) intended to take the quick six-week course from the hospital. That's where the problem lies.
A hospital is a business. If they don't make money, then they can't stay open. I don't think this is a bad thing since they provide a service, they should be compensated fairly. The service they provide is a medical one; they have all of the technology necessary to make a high-risk pregnancy turn out well and that's great. But what about low-risk patients like me? I didn't have gestational diabetes, I gained the recommended 30-35 pounds, my blood pressure was excellent, I ate well and I exercised. Despite all of this, I was still treated like I was high-risk because that's what hospitals specialize in. I didn't realize it at the time, but looking back I can see that's what was happening. My water broke ten days before my due date and we were instructed to go straight to the hospital to lower the risk of infection. Doesn't make any sense, right? Go to the hospital, with all of those strangers and all of those germs to decrease the risk of infection...
This time around I have done my homework. John and I have taken a Bradley Method course (which is a 12-week, 2 hour per class course) and even though we have been through a childbirth class and a birth of our own, we still learned LOTS of valuable information. We've decided to go to a birth center with a group of midwives and that experience has been a huge difference from my experience with my previous OB. I did like my OB, but there's something nice about being in the care of a woman whose only job is to birth babies.
So, my three main reasons for going to a birth center (in no particular order):
1. I want to give birth naturally. A hospital is not the best place for that because that's not their specialty. As my husband says, "You don't go into a Chinese food place and demand lasagna." A birth center is much more conducive to natural birth and the midwife has already talked to me about different ways to induce labor at home in case my water breaks and contractions don't start again.
2. The birth center is a nice mix of nature and technology. While a home birth would be cool, I'm still a little nervous about committing to one, probably due some lingering fears of childbirth. The birth center has some neonatal tools to help any babies who are struggling with the transition from womb to outside world. They also have a variety of drugs (no pain meds, though) in case something unexpected happens to me (like too much bleeding after birth).
3. Being the capitalists that we are, John and I are voting with our dollar. We don't agree with the high C-section rate of hospitals, nor with how pushy they are about drugs (any drug, not just pain medications), so we're doing something different than the norm.
And... that's all I have to say about that. :)