A Primer on the Birth Center Experience


Birth and everything concerning it is a very emotional and personal topic, so please let me preface this opinion piece with a disclaimer. Please remember that these are: 1) My opinions, and  2) When I speak in general about birthing, I’m speaking about pregnant women without any complications or health conditions. This is simply my experience with a birthing center that I wanted to describe. birthing centerI think that slowly, the way we view birth is changing, and honestly, that’s a good thing. If you would have asked me at 21 how I would give birth, I would have said in a hospital with lots of pain medication. How did I actually give birth? In a birth center with my midwife and no pain medication. It was perfection.

I think as moms we can all agree that saying one thing and living it are two completely different things. Think about when all those relatives or friends without children tell you how you should be raising yours, while you sit there and think, “just you wait…”

I hadn’t really concerned myself with the actual process of caring for a pregnancy or giving birth until I became pregnant. When it happened, something inside of me recoiled at the traditional birth process that modern medicine promotes. I don’t like being in hospitals, I don’t like being restricted when in pain, and I don’t like being poked and prodded more than needed. My husband was fantastic as I was deciding how to prepare and give birth. He repeatedly told me, “do what you feel comfortable with.” He was not completely into us doing a home birth, so I did some research and we discovered birth centers. That’s when I found Blossom Birth Center.

Blossom is made up of two midwives and one doctor (obstetrician), plus an amazing team of doulas. We rotated through the two midwives and doctor each month, getting to know each of them, as any of them could be attending our birth. Our prenatal appointments were anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, allowing us time to ask questions and just check in with our midwives/doctor.

Giving birth for the first time for me was scary, as I’m sure for most women. You don’t really know what to expect and are secretly praying it’s like that cousins, friends, sisters birth you heard about that was super-fast and “almost painless.”

I felt very cared for and supported with my midwives, doula, husband, and mom. I started contractions late in the night on a Saturday. By Sunday morning, they were getting stronger and I was unsure of when exactly I should go in to the birth center. We called and our midwife had us come in. I ended up laboring until about 430pm that afternoon, when I gave birth. I was able to move around, labor in the tub, and eat & drink. I really liked being able to move around and try to find some comfort in different positions or in the tub.

I ended up giving birth in bed. My beautiful daughter arrived and was placed on my chest immediately. My placenta unfortunately was not delivering after my daughter had arrived. My midwife called the doctor in the practice, and the paramedics just in case, but my midwife was able to remove the placenta, just as the doctor arrived. The paramedics were sent away, and I was snuggling and nursing my new babe. We appreciated how quickly and deftly our midwife handled the situation. One of the other bonus to Blossom is that they are across the street from the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and just down the street from St. Joe’s where they will stay with you, should you need to transferred.

We stayed the night at the birth center, and headed home the next morning with our new babe.

For me, the top reasons I loved this method and plan to do it with our next child are as follows:

  • Natural – I believe that the woman’s body is meant to birth and knows what to do. Honestly, in Western medicine today, I don’t feel like many of them feel this way. I didn’t have any invasive checks until the end of my pregnancy when they were checking to see if I was dilated. I did the gestational diabetes check, but it was done with a natural drink and not some disgusting florescent drink (Luckily I didn’t have it). I didn’t get hooked up to an IV with Pitocin. I was able to labor freely and naturally.
  • Family-centered – My husband, and if you have other children, are encouraged to be at appointments. It’s not just about the pregnant mama, they want to make sure everyone in the family is feeling supported and heard. They realized that my husband is in this as much as I am and want him to feel their support as well.
  • Comfort – I felt so comfortable at Blossom and with my birth team. By the time we gave birth, they all knew me and my husband, and that was huge to me. I was able to eat and drink during labor, which definitely helped keep my strength up.
  • Baby stays with me – This was huge to me. I didn’t want my baby out of my sight, or lots of strange nurses in my room, touching my child.
  • Lots of face time with our Birth Team – I wanted to really know the people who would be helping to bring my child into the world.

Everyone is different and wants different things. This was the best for me, and I wanted to explain why I loved it. The most important thing is that you feel supported, heard, and that you were able to give birth in a way that you felt comfortable.

If you are interested in natural birth, birth centers, and midwives, I encourage you to watch the documentary called The Business of Being Born, and read the book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by: Ina May Gaskin.

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Rachel has lived in Arizona for 13 years, deeply loving all that the desert has to offer. She is originally from Pennsylvania.  She graduated from Penn State with a degree in print and photojournalism, exactly 60 years after her grandmother graduated. Rachel married her husband Scott, an engineer, in 2013, and they welcomde the sassy Dottie Grayce in 2016, on the hottest day of the year. Rachel is a professional chef, food writer and photographer, food stylist, and baby led weaning advocate. After working in many restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, and resorts, Rachel decided to launch her own company, Pistol Whipped Pastry, in 2011. Rachel has been a contributor for Arizona Vines & Wines Magazine, Stratejoy.com, Phoenix New Times, and Chow Bella blog. She has written pieces for the Christian Science Monitor, Green Living AZ, Phoenix Magazine, and YourZenMama.com. When not working, Rachel is hanging out with Scott and Dottie, fixing up their new home, traveling all around Arizona, drinking Arizona wine, gardening, and cooking for friends and family. You can also catch up with Rachel on her personal blog, Croissant In The City.


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