Women can de­liver their ba­bies in lux­ury at new nat­u­ral birthing cen­ter

The Telegraph (Macon) - - Front Page - BY SA­MAN­THA MAX [email protected]­con.com

The num­ber of out-of-hos­pi­tal births is ris­ing na­tion­wide, and women now have an op­tion in Mid­dle Ge­or­gia to give birth out­side of a la­bor and de­liv­ery unit.

Ge­or­gia’s first physi­cian-led, free­stand­ing birth cen­ter opened last­month in Forsyth, and it could help fill a grow­ing gap in ma­ter­nal and in­fant care statewide.

Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Chel­sia Ogle­tree said she hopes the Ob Gyne Birthing Cen­ter for Nat­u­ral De­liv­er­ies will al­low women from across the state, es­pe­cially its ru­ral ar­eas, to ac­cess a range of preg­nan­cyre­lated re­sources in one spot.

“The lo­ca­tion is ev­ery­thing. The peo­ple here are ev­ery­thing,” Ogle­tree said. “The fa­cil­ity is state of the art, and we’re just ready to ser­vice these women in Mid­dle Ge­or­gia and their fam­i­lies.”

Be­tween 1994 and 2014, 30 la­bor and de­liv­ery units closed across the state, mostly in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties where the next clos­est ma­ter­nity ward could be 45 or more min­utes away. More than half of pri­mary care ser­vice ar­eas out­side of metro At­lanta are ei­ther over­bur­dened or com­pletely lack­ing in ob­stet­ric providers, the Ge­or­gia Ma­ter­nal and In­fant Health Re­search Group re­ported in 2015.

Birthing cen­ter de­liv­er­ies are less likely to re­sult in ce­sarean sec­tion, an in­va­sive surgery with a six-week re­cov­ery.

Only 6 per­cent of women who

THE LO­CA­TION IS EV­ERY­THING. THE PEO­PLE HERE ARE EV­ERY­THING.

Chel­sia Ogle­tree

go to a birth cen­ter un­dergo a C-sec­tion, com­pared to 32 per­cent of to­tal births in the U.S., ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Birth Cen­ters. While the over­all C-sec­tion rate has in­creased sub­stan­tially since the 1990s, ac­cord­ing to the CDC, it has con­sis­tently hov­ered be­tween 4 and 6 per­cent at birth cen­ters dur­ing the past two decades.

C-sec­tions are more ex­pen­sive than vagi­nal births, cost­ing an av­er­age of $16,711 with­out in­sur­ance in Ge­or­gia com­pared to $12,448 for vagi­nal de­liv­er­ies, ac­cord­ing to health care watch­dog or­ga­ni­za­tion FAIR Health.

Birth cen­ter vagi­nal de­liv­er­ies typ­i­cally cost less. The Forsyth cen­ter charges $5,000 for a de­liv­ery if the pa­tient chooses self-pay, but also it ac­cept­sMedi­care, Med­i­caid and pri­vate in­sur­ance.

What re­ally sets birth cen­ters apart, Ogle­tree said, is its home-like en­vi­ron­ment.

At the ObG­yne Birthing Cen­ter for Nat­u­ral De­liv­er­ies, each pa­tient has a pri­vate room with a mem­ory foam gel queen­size bed, a rock­ing chair draped with a fuzzy throw blan­ket, an en suite bath­room with a walk-in shower as well as an out­door pa­tio where the pa­tient can get a breath of fresh air be­tween con­trac­tions. One room also is equipped with a jacuzzi tub for pa­tients who opt for a wa­ter de­liv­ery.

The goal at the nat­u­ral de­liv­ery cen­ter is to de­liver ba­bies with as lit­tle med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion as pos­si­ble. Pa­tients will not re­ceive an epidu­ral or other pain med­i­ca­tions, though they can get laugh­ing gas to take the edge off their con­trac­tions.

Women who have a nat­u­ral birth of­ten re­cover more quickly, Ogle­tree said. They can breast­feed sooner than those who take pain med­i­ca­tion, and they also face lower hem­or­rhag­ing risks.

“You have so many dif­fer­ent ad­van­tages, re­ally, to hav­ing a nat­u­ral birth,” she said. “But, most im­por­tantly, you have a woman who is em­pow­ered with her birth, who is in con­trol of her body, who has a say in how things go and can walk away from the birth ex­pe­ri­ence with­out it hav­ing trauma.”

In a state with the third-high­est ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity rate in the na­tion, many moth­ers share hor­ror sto­ries about their own birth ex­pe­ri­ences or those they’ve heard from oth­ers, she said. A Warner Robins woman told The Tele­graph last sum­mer that she nearly died dur­ing child­birth, de­spite oth­er­wise good health and a com­pletely nor­mal preg­nancy.

LESS THAN 1 PER­CENT OF WOMEN WHO LA­BOR AT BIRTHING CEN­TERS ARE TRANS­FERRED TO HOS­PI­TALS FOR EMERGENCY REA­SONS.

HOS­PI­TALS CAN CUS­TOM­IZE DE­LIV­ER­IES

Some preg­nant women have lost trust in hos­pi­tals, be­cause they feel like their providers are not lis­ten­ing to them, said Dr. Pa­trice Walker, an OB-GYN at Nav­i­cent Health.

“In those cases, they re­ally want to have that au­ton­omy back,” Walker said. “They want to have choices. They want to have op­tions. And some­times, when they feel like they’re in, you know, a more tra­di­tional health care set­ting, that some­times those op­tions go away.”

Those women might not re­al­ize that hos­pi­tals also can of­fer cus­tom­ized touches to their pa­tients’ de­liv­er­ies, she said.

“We def­i­nitely try to honor pa­tients’ wishes when it comes to the ex­pe­ri­ence that they want to have in that set­ting,” Walker said. “Some women want cer­tain scents and they want mu­sic and they want to use a birthing ball or a birthing tub, and we of­fer all those things in the hos­pi­tal set­ting, too. So, some­times it can be a mat­ter of ed­u­cat­ing pa­tients that you don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to go to a birthing cen­ter to have the ex­pe­ri­ence that you want.”

The most im­por­tant thing is to give ex­pect­ing moth­ers all the nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion they need to make an in­formed de­ci­sion, she added.

Only women who meet an ex­ten­sive health checklist can de­liver at birth cen­ters.

The Forsyth cen­ter is equipped with heart mon­i­tors, oxy­gen and re­sus­ci­ta­tion ma­chines in case of an emergency. It is lo­cated across the street from the Mon­roe County Hos­pi­tal, where am­bu­lances can reach the cen­ter al­most im­me­di­ately, Ogle­tree said.

The Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Birth Cen­ters re­ports that less than 1 per­cent of women who la­bor at birthing cen­ters are trans­ferred to hospi- tals for emergency rea­son.

Still, there’s al­ways an added risk when­ever some­one de­liv­ers out­side of a hos­pi­tal, Walker said. It’s hard to an­tic­i­pate who might need spe­cial­ists or hos­pi­tal-grade ma­chines to avoid poor out­comes, even among healthy pa­tients, she added.

“Birth is one of those things that can be un­pre­dictable,” she said.

Dr. Bola So­gade, founder of the ObG­yne Birthing Cen­ter, has worked with moth­ers in di­verse set­tings around the world. The Nige­rian-born OBGYN has prac­ticed at the high-vol­ume King’s County Hos­pi­tal in New York City and at health clin­ics in Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa.

Now based in Mid­dle Ge­or­gia, the physi­cian hopes to bring the lessons she’s learned in her 17 years as an OB-GYN to a state she said she thinks is fac­ing a ma­ter­nal care cri­sis.

Her birth cen­ter brings to­gether physi­cians, mid­wives and doulas in one space where women can re­ceive pre­na­tal and post­na­tal care, as well as gen­eral well-woman care. It also of­fers pre­con­cep­tion plan­ning, breast­feed­ing sup­port and sup­port groups for both moth­ers and fa­thers.

The goal is to cre­ate a com­mu­nity that pro­motes ma­ter­nal health, where women can come to­gether to learn and em­power one an­other.

“We want to bring it home. We want to make it lo­cal. We want to make it ac­ces­si­ble,” So­gade said. “And that’s why we think it’s a first step. We’ve got to start some­where.”

Sa­man­tha Max is a Re­port for Amer­ica corps mem­ber and re­ports for The Tele­graph with sup­port from the News/ Colab at Ari­zona State Univer­sity. Fol­low her on Face­book at face­book.com/smax1996 and on Twit­ter @saman­thael­li­max. You can also join her Face­book group. Learn more about Re­port for Amer­ica at re­port­foramer­ica.org.

BEAU CABELL bca­[email protected]­con.com

Chel­sia Ogle­tree is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the new ObG­yne Birthing Cen­ter for Nat­u­ral De­liv­er­ies in Forsyth.

BEAU CABELL bca­[email protected]­con.com

Doula Chel­sia Ogle­tree, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and doula at the new ObG­yne Birthing Cen­ter for Nat­u­ral De­liv­er­ies, in one of the de­liv­ery rooms. They fea­ture com­fort­able seat­ing, lux­ury bed linens on mem­ory foam beds, ad­join­ing bath, hy­drother­apy tub and a pri­vate pa­tio.

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