“Where are you planning to give birth?” It’s one of the first questions I ask parents-to-be in my interviews. Almost always, the answer is the name of a hospital in our area. While historically, birth was a home event, today nearly all childbirths in the U.S. take place in a hospital setting.
In the Twin Cities, where I live and work, we are fortunate to have a thriving, supportive birth community where we have many options. The Minneapolis/St. Paul area has one of the highest doula populations in the country, and more and more women are demanding high quality, family centered care during their pregnancies and deliveries. This means more birth centers, more midwives, and more opportunities for birthing women to be heard.
At a homebirth, doulas are hands on, providing physical comfort measures and emotional reassurance. There may be some informational support, but typically the advocating piece of my job isn’t as needed since midwives tend to be significantly less intervention focused and are more willing to follow a birthing person’s lead. Incidentally, homebirths in the Twin Cities are on the rise thanks to a growing number of skilled homebirth midwives and a thriving community of families who support one another in the decision to birth at home.
For many soon-to-be parents, a birth center is a solid compromise, a sort of halfway between homebirth and hospital. Depending on the birth center, there may be multiple midwives, trained birth assistants, nurses, and doulas present, but the intention is usually to give the laboring couple the space and freedom of movement they would have had in their own home. Again, with the number of likeminded, midwifery model following care providers at a birth center, a private doula’s role is focused primarily on emotional and physical support.
In a hospital setting, on the other hand, my role shifts to encompass informational support and advocacy in addition to emotional and physical support. Most of my clients have given birth in hospitals around the Twin Cities and I have been glad to be there. Hospitals don’t feel like home. Mamas and their partners might choose a hospital because they feel better or more secure about laboring and delivering in a place that could save the day in a worst case scenario situation. However, the reality is that birth is a natural event and usually does not require medical assistance. This is where I come in. I certainly don’t bring my own agenda into a birth, but I do set a goal of making a birthing woman comfortable. She may not feel “at home,” but I strive to help her feel at ease. A laboring mama’s voice is always the most important in the room, no matter where she’s birthing her baby.
My favorite birth places in the twin cities:
Woodwinds Hospital, Woodbury, MN - Gorgeous, modern facilities; nurses who are open to a variety of birthing wishes; in house volunteer doula program; large birth tubs; water birth friendly; family centered C-section.
Health Foundations Birth Center, St. Paul, MN - Skilled midwives; in house doula internship program; centrally located; beautifully redone facilities.
The Mother Baby Center at Abbott Northwestern and Children’s Hospital, Minneapolis, MN - Redone L&D rooms; birth tubs; mostly doula friendly. See what they did there with the name of the L&D ward? Hospitals are feeling the push toward a more family centered model of care. They know women want the security of a hospital without feeling like a patient.
Where did you birth? Did you love it? What did you choose the second time around? Comment below or contact me.