Shanon: Hi, I'm Shanon Cook, mom of one with another one on the way. Now while the majority of women in the United States have their babies in a hospital, more and more are searching for alternatives, like this place. This is the Birthing Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City, and this lady here is Rita Wagner. She is a certified nurse midwife. Hello.
Rita: Hi. Welcome to the Birthing Center.
Shanon: Thank you. It's very serene and peaceful here.
Rita: Yes. Yes, it is. That's why women come here.
Shanon: Well, who's a good candidate for a birth center? And who's not?
Rita: Alright, well, birth center patients are women that should be low risk, patients that are healthy and their pregnancy has been healthy, no complications. Singleton, meaning one baby. Women who, basically, any age as long as they've been healthy their entire pregnancy without complications.
Shanon: Let's talk about this room. This looks lovely. This does not look like the typical hospital delivery room.
Rita: Right, right, right. That's why it's the birthing center. So, in the birth center we have the larger beds that the women can get in any position on this bed. Hands and knees. We also have wedges that we put here in order for them to support themselves, bean bags, some women bring in their birth balls, and they can use that on the bed or, as well, against the wall.
We also have these wonderful deep tubs that we fill and they have jets in order to have hydrotherapy during the labor. Water is very soothing and calming and allows the body and the muscles to relax, helping the women to cope with the contractions and get them to have the lovely labor and natural birth that they want.
Shanon: And I love some of the chairs and, like, the mirror and the lamp. And you've got nice curtains. It feels like a nice bedroom.
Rita: Basically the idea is to make the birth center feel like a home environment. We know that when a woman feels comfortable, her body's going to progress more naturally and normally in labor. When you go into a labor and delivery room, sometimes they see the monitors, they get a little afraid of what might happen to them. Here we want them to feel comfortable so that that fear doesn't frighten the contractions away and allows the labor to progress naturally.
Shanon: So obviously the women who opt to have their babies here, they want an unmedicated birth. What kind of ways do you help them through the pain management of contractions?
Rita: Pain management. Well, the word pain, first of all, we try not to use that word. Discomfort. Labor is uncomfortable, it is, but it comes with a wonderful prize at the end. So what we do is, we do massage. Like I mentioned, the hydrotherapy. The birthing balls, which is comfortable to sit on. Also you can use it as a counter-pressure against your back and the wall. And we try to keep them hydrated. Allow them to move, whether they want to be in the rocking chair, whether they want to walk down the hall. This is their space. They're free to move and get in any position that they want, that helps them feel most comfortable during their labor.
Shanon: If you're having a baby in the hospital, you're hooked up all kinds of monitors and they're checking on the baby very regularly. How do you do that here?
Rita: Okay, so in labor and delivery, yes, they're on the monitors and it's what we call continuous fetal monitoring, which means during the entire labor we're monitoring baby's heart rate and mother's contractions and how they relate to each other. Here in the birthing center, we actually have intermittent monitoring, which means we use a Doppler. Now, this might be familiar to you because you're pregnant. We have, it's the same equipment we use in the clinic to monitor the baby's heart rate at your visits with your midwife or with your doctor. And so we use this and we're using that in active labor, we're listening to the baby every 20 minutes and then during pushing we'll do it every 15 minutes. Usually a little bit more often just because as practitioners we want to be reassured, but the guidelines say that we would do that every 15 minutes. Again these are healthy, low risk women.
Shanon: Okay and what's this over here?
Rita: So this is just our blood pressure monitor. So we also monitor patient's vital signs during labor. And that's important because we want to monitor in case there's any complications arising, which can occur. Something like preeclampsia would be why we were checking the blood pressure. And then it's very important after the delivery to check mother's blood pressure because we do lose blood when we have a baby. We just want to monitor and make sure we haven't lost an excessive amount.
Bedside, we also have other equipment. We have here oxygen for the mother. During labor sometimes women need a little extra oxygen or if we think baby does, then we'll go ahead and put that on. We also have this equipment because, although when the baby's born, typically we put it on to mother's chest, skin to skin, allow the mom to have that bonding moment, let the cord stop pulsing, let the family enjoy their new baby.
But there are times when the baby might need a little bit of help. So we bring the baby over here. We have suction to suction out any secretions. And then we have oxygen to help resuscitate the baby if we need to use this. We also can call our personnel down. We have a wonderful NICU team that come and help us here or if we needed to transport the baby upstairs, we would.
Shanon: Thank you so much, Rita, for showing us around this beautiful room.
Rita: Thank you for joining us.
Shanon: And keep in mind, guys, if you want to find out more about birth centers and think more about whether they're right for you, search here on Our Site. For BabyCenter, I'm Shanon Cook.