Local Birth Centers -- good, bad experiences? — The Bump
D.C. Area Babies

Local Birth Centers -- good, bad experiences?

Hi fellow bump ladies!

I am only 6 weeks, but the time will fly by, i'm sure. What I am hoping for is feedback from anyone who used one of the local birth centers, i.e.  Family Health and Birth Center in DC,  Special Beginning in Annapolis or  BirthCare & Women's Health in Alexandria. Any feedback on your experience with any of these centers is welcome! Thanks so much!

Re: Local Birth Centers -- good, bad experiences?

  • congratulations on your pregnancy!! so exciting! let me know if you are interested in HypnoBirthing - i teach in Old Town! 

    i have personal experience with BirthCare and anecdotal experience with the other two you mentioned. 

    for quality of care, atmosphere and convenience, i would choose BirthCare again. i have heard some really not so great things about Special Beginnings (some really awful, horrible things, actually) and a good friend had a ...crummy experience at Family Health.

    BirthCare is in Old Town and does not have reserved parking. This can be a problem during rush hour if you choose to birth at the birth center. i went there for my first pregnancy and have my well woman care there and have never had a problem finding a parking space somewhat within walking distance. they have a very small parking lot (4 cars) and may give a space to laboring moms (i'm not sure, since i was planning a homebirth wtih them) so that you don't have to worry about parking restrictions on the street. they've been there a long time, so i'm sure they've got a system worked out!

    there are 5 CNMs at BirthCare, two owners and 3 others. there is usually a student MW. one of the owners caught my brother 26 years ago and still remembers my family, even though she was my mom's MW's back up, so the only time they met was when my mom was in labor. the current student is my former bradley teacher and birth assistant. she has a long history with BirthCare and is a trusted partner to each MW.

    the MWs rotate, you will see a different MW at each appointment and you get whomever is on call the day you are in labor. i opted to go with a solo practice for my second baby, partly bc i wanted a more intimate relationship with my care providers. I really bonded with three of the MWs at BirthCare and the one i ended up with i didn't really like. I've since learned that i could have requested (absolutely insisted) that someone else come to my labor, but i didn't know that at the time. 

    because they are CNMs, my insurance covered 100% of my costs. i paid my deductible and that was all.

    appointments at BirthCare are usually 45-60 minutes. I liked that my opinion was valued there and that they asked me questions that were thoughtful and seemed to actually care how i was doing. much more personal care than i'd gotten at the OB's office i'd transferred from. they also trust you to record your own stats for weight and such. i really despised having to get on the scale and have a nurse weigh me. seriously? i was 30 at the time, i think i know how to use this thing! 

    they do not do waterbirths, though they do have a whirlpool tub at the birth center. i'm told that at least one of the MWs will "not notice" that you baby is crowning until it's too late to get out of the tub, but that's not standard practice.

    they are under the direction of Dr. Paula McKenzie, an OB based in Alexandria who delivers at Inova Alexandria, in case of transfer or medical risk-out. i have also known BirthCare moms who have transferred (during labor) to Dr. Tchabo, an OB based at Virginia Hospital Center, who many in the natural birth DC world know to be the most friendly toward natural, unmedicated birth and birth free of unnecessary interventions. Sadly, he is nearing retirement, and the partners with whom he works at VHC aren't so accommodating. 

    for homebirths, they travel with all the same equipment they have at the birth center. the advantages to the birth center are that they are exactly 9 minutes (or whatever it is) from the hospital and they have a whirlpool for laboring. the advantages to being at home are numerous - chief among them for me was not having to travel during labor or immediately after (you only stay at the birth center for 4hrs pp). for homebirths, you are expected to buy a kit of supplies. i think it's $50. you are also expected to have food/beverages for the MW. they do a home visit around your 36 week appointment to ensure you have all the proper supplies, bring an oxygen tank and get the lay of the land. 

    that's about all i can think of now. if you have any specific questions, i'm happy to answer. you can page me here or email me at Lindsey AT sunflowershealingandwellness DOT com.

    if you decide to go wtih BirthCare, do so soon. they book up fast! 

    [color=purple]Wife ? 9/18/04Mommy ? DS - 2006 (C/S) & DD - 2010 (HWBAC)Wellness Provider ? Birth Doula - Hypnotherapist - HypnoBirthing - Reiki Master/Teacher[/color]Natural/Unmedicated Childbirth FAQs
  • Not only will the time fly, but midwife practices often on take so many patients delivering in a given month. So, now is a fine time to start interviewing the practices. We looked into Birth Care for DS, but ended up going a different route. Since DS was born, a new birth center has opened up in Chantilly that I cannot praise enough (albeit I have not birthed there)...http://novabirthcenter.com/. It is gorgeous and the owners/CPMs. Peggy and Kim, are very warm, lovely, knowledgeable ladies. I didn't see that on your list, so I wasn't sure if you knew about it. They only did homebirths before the center opened, but they are both very experienced and the facility also is a school of midwifery that is in the process of becoming accredited. The facility is so, so much nicer than Birth Care that I wonder if BC will choose remodel to keep up.

  • thanks a BUNCH for all the info. I'll definitely contact you to follow-up, need-be. Thanks again!
  • I had a great experience with Birth Care. I love the midwives there and while the Birth Center isn't fancy, it is comfortable and I had a good experience. For number 2, we plan to have a homebirth with them.

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