Baby Tour

in Natural Birth

It’s almost quitting time!


And I’m excited.  Thank goodness it’s Friday.  I could do a Friday dance right here in my office chair.  We have a few loose plans, but I’m mostly just looking forward to sitting on the couch and rectifying this sink situation. 


It’s truly worse than it looks.


Made a lunch that results in minimal dirty dishes:


Some homemade vegetable soup (I would share the recipe but it’s pretty bland) with chips and hummus.


And later, an apple + sunflower butter.  Hence, my green smile.


The highlight of my Friday was, no doubt, touring a local birthing center.  We’re trying to decide where I will receive prenatal care and eventually give birth – either with my current OB-GYN at a hospital or with a midwife at a birth center or birthing center wing of a hospital (unfortunately, legal midwife-assisted home birth is not a viable option in North Carolina).  So we’re touring a stand-alone, all-natural birthing center, a nearby hospital, and a hospital with a birthing center.  I’m trying really hard not to go into it with any preconceived notions and have an open mind


However, I am definitely leaning towards a more ‘holistic’ birth experience.  I watched the Business of Being Born a few years ago and it completely transformed how I thought about birth (it’s on Netflix!).

business of being born
The feel and language at the Carolina Community Medical Center, an all-natural birthing center, sure seemed to mesh with our values.  I liked the midwife we met a lot.  Plus, doesn’t this look like a nice place to deliver?


(They remove the sheets and put down a plastic pad, if you’re wondering – which I definitely was!)


The biggest drawback of the birthing center is that it’s out of network for our insurance and most likely entirely out of pocket – ouch.  I hate to weigh my values against the bottom line, but I’ve got to be realistic.  Oh, and it’s 25 minutes away.  I know that’s not too far, but I feel it will take forever when I’m actually in labor.    For comparison’s sake, there’s a hospital across the street from our house.  Decisions, decisions.


While we were on the tour, I heard the cries of a freshly-born baby in the other birthing suite – and my heart soared!  So exciting.  It’s still strange to me to think that the end result of this whole process is a real, live baby.



  • Emily November 11, 2011, 3:13 pm

    Do whatever you feel is best for you and your future family! The birthing center sounds like a great option, but definitely pricey. Can you deliver with a midwife at your hospital?

    • CaitlinHTP November 11, 2011, 3:19 pm

      I can, but I’m afraid that a hospital will put too many restrictions one me for legal reasons. I want to be able to eat and drink and labor and deliver in whatever position I want to. So I definitely need to tour the hospitals and see what they will and won’t let me do.

      • crystal November 11, 2011, 5:32 pm

        Find out what your provider will “allow” (it’s in quotes b/c they can bully you, but legally can’t make you do anything). My hospital had restrictions on stuff, but the minute I said my doctor said x aws ok they were like sure ok go for it. IME I’ve found that hospitals will pretty much go with what your doctor says, especially if you have a signed birth plan.

  • Krista November 11, 2011, 3:18 pm

    Ugh…I would definitely consider the cost, for me that’s what would probably win out. To pay all that out of pocket + with all the other baby expenses you’ll have, I would probably go where my insurance would cover the majority of cost. And, the fact that the hospital is right across the street would give me comfort too. I know you’ll make the right decision!

  • Alison November 11, 2011, 3:19 pm

    Watch Pregnant in America! Also on “watch instantly” on Netflix now… another one that makes you think twice about the hospital.

    • CaitlinHTP November 11, 2011, 3:20 pm

      Oh I’ll check this out! Thanks!

  • kathleen @ the daily crumb November 11, 2011, 3:21 pm

    i would go with your values and what is right for you and your family. money comes and goes, and from that perspective, you’ll figure it out. it’s just money. the birthing process is something that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

    p.s. my sink looks crazy similar to yours.

  • April @ Grits and Granola Bars November 11, 2011, 3:24 pm

    For a minute there I thought you were going to have your baby in the birth center I had mine is! There is only one free standing birth center in NC, but I see that yours is in SC 🙂

    I’ve had a hospital birth and a birth center one and I can honestly tell you that you are making the right decision! Out of hospital birth rocks so hard.

  • Laura November 11, 2011, 3:26 pm

    Hey Caitlin! I considered a local birthing center when having my first baby, but the Hubs and I ultimately tabled the idea due to the fact that they weren’t very equipped in case of emergency. I know it’s completely scary to think about, and you will most likely have the smoothest pregnancy ever, but should there be any little hiccup you definitely want facilities that could handle it (ie: surgery, NICU…)! Just food for thought, can’t wait to see what you decide! Congratulations again! 🙂

  • Brie @ Brie Fit November 11, 2011, 3:26 pm

    I feel like I’m the Debbie Downer in all your pregnancy posts, so…apologies for that. I hope this doesn’t come across as judgy, because I don’t mean it that way AT ALL.

    When I was pregnant, I saw midwives because I thought I wanted to do the “natural” pregnancy/birth route. As you know, I ended up with a missed miscarriage at almost 11 weeks. I KNEW something was wrong with the pregnancy early on (symptoms went away, low progesterone) and expressed that to them, and they brushed it off as “you don’t need an ultrasound, you’re fine, ultrasounds are overdone and not necessary” when in reality my baby never made it past week 5. So I spent 6 weeks thinking I was pregnant when I wasn’t. And I haven’t heard anything from them since calling to say, “Hi, I was admitted to the hospital for an emergency D&C”–they haven’t returned any of my THREE messages.

    I’ve thought about it a lot and for my next pregnancy, we will be going with an OB and more mainstream medical care. I felt like a lot of my (legitimate) concerns were brushed off for the sake of being “natural” and avoiding intervention, and I know I’m going to need more hand-holding the next time around. We do still want a “natural” birth if possible, but we’re going to attempt that by finding a low-intervention OB and hiring a doula for a few hundred bucks.

    Anyway. Sorry to write a novel. This is my roundabout way of saying that a regular OB doesn’t have to be a bad experience, and in my opinion, there are some benefits to it as well. There are good OBs and there are bad OBs, BUT there are also good and bad midwives. The issue should be finding someone who’s good, regardless of whether they’re an OB or a midwife!

    • CaitlinHTP November 11, 2011, 3:28 pm

      Really great comment Brie. I’m so sorry that happened you to. You’re right… no one should put their values about safety. It’s so hard to find that line. I really appreciate this comment.

      • CaitlinHTP November 11, 2011, 3:28 pm

        Also – I cannot BELIEVE they haven’t called you back. That is horrible.

    • kathleen @ the daily crumb November 11, 2011, 3:52 pm

      very interesting, brie. thank you for sharing. your story, i can imagine, is helping so many women.

      • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) November 11, 2011, 5:11 pm

        Wow, Brie. I am so sorry that you had to walk this road. Your story will serve others by educating them, as you did today. Thank you!

    • Katie of Cabbage Ranch November 11, 2011, 4:03 pm

      I totally agree with your bottom line, Brie. I respect others’ decisions and believe there are many answers to the birthing question. We chose a great OB who used the best hospital with full NICU- just in case. Turns out, our baby ended up being born in crisis; she immediately had the best of everything so she was FINE soon after. Modern, high tech medicine can be wonderful and empowering! And we had incredible doctors and even better nurses! They respected our choices and were very personal and caring. Can’t say how happy we were with our hospital experience. 🙂

  • katie @ KatieDid November 11, 2011, 3:27 pm

    such a nice environment in there, much better than a stark white hospital room in my opinion! I know not everyone has the luxary to choose or has different opinions but I think one day I will lean towards a set up like that one.

  • Lisa November 11, 2011, 3:28 pm

    The Business of Being Born was REALLY eye-opening for me. I saw it a year ago and think about it constantly. I don’t think that a home birth would be right for me (whenever we get there, not yet) but what I took away from the movie is that if I were to deliver in a hospital, I want to feel empowered and in control. Definitely talk to the hospital about their rules, and find out if the deal-breakers are legally MANDATORY or if they are just recommended “best” practices that do not HAVE to be followed (even though they are usually protrayed as mandatory.) You know? Talk to their lawyers if you have to.

    If I were in your position I would probably opt to take the best, closest, place that took my insurance. All pre-natal care + delivery + recovery out of network is a huge expense.

    I am sure you guys will make the best decision for your family, whichever it is.

  • Candice @ Sailing on Paper November 11, 2011, 3:29 pm

    I recently watched that documentary, as well! It’s super scary to think of all the women that have gone through unnecessary interventions. I think it’s great that you are educating yourself and taking the time to weigh your options.

  • Amanda November 11, 2011, 3:30 pm

    Good luck making those decisions, that’s tough!! I think the biggest decision is finding a care provider that you really click with, then it’s wonderful to follow their recommendations when you aren’t sure.

  • Amanda November 11, 2011, 3:31 pm

    oh, and don’t be too put off by the hospitals. one of my c sections was an emergency, had we not gone to a hospital super fast we would have lost the baby. there is a time and a place for hospital and doctor care!

    • CaitlinHTP November 11, 2011, 3:32 pm

      Oh, definitely 100% agree. Thank god for doctors!

  • Andrea November 11, 2011, 3:37 pm

    Just curious: What is the difference between giving birth in a regular hospital and giving birth in a hospital with a birthing center?

    • CaitlinHTP November 11, 2011, 3:39 pm

      Regular hospital: You’re in a hospital bed being attended to by nurses and an OBGYN at the end. Hospital with birthing center: Usually more ‘birthing center’ feel and you have a certified nurse midwife.

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga November 11, 2011, 3:42 pm

    Only you can weigh the options of what you think is best…it’s such a shame that most insurance companies won’t pay for birthing centers or won’t pay as much and so that IF that’s the woman’s choice, she is forced to bring economics into a decision that should be so free from that…human life, mother’s wishes, life stuff that should be free from a price tag attached but yes, insurance co’s are so powerful.

    Good luck with your decision!

  • sandy November 11, 2011, 3:43 pm

    To each her own, and my philosophy on parenting is that you have to do what works for you. But with whatever option you choose, please consider having an M.D./hopsital/NICU near by. Just in case…(disclosure, I am biased and my uncle/obgyn delivered all of my babies.) He let’s his patients do whatever they want. He says “sit in the tub or shower and have your baby, just please let me be there…just in case.”

    • CaitlinHTP November 12, 2011, 2:01 pm

      I would love to find a flexible OBGYN. I am just not sure they exist in the South.

  • Noelle November 11, 2011, 3:49 pm

    I saw that movie and they made hospitals out to be non-caring places that just shuffled women in and out, which isn’t really the case for most hospitals. I had a great experience in my hospital and they didn’t try to intervene or force me into anything, they gave me options and told me the benefits of the options. It was a fantastic experience and 100% covered by insurance.

    There are a lot of things they don’t RECOMMEND but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do them, like eating, I was pretty hungry but when the baby actually came I could see why they said no food, I was SO NAUSEOUS and if you have to have a c-section which really isn’t your choice and more an issue of safety for the baby it could be risky if you were eating.

    If you find yourself being swayed by that movie though, you should talk to your doctor, I feel like a lot of what they said was a little misleading and it would be good to get the other side.

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) November 11, 2011, 3:51 pm

    Tony and I watched The Business of Being Born a couple of years ago and it made me regret every bit of my deliveries because they were textbook medical. I was 23 when I had my first and I was in labor for 46 hours! They gave me so much medicine in my epidural that I could not feel ANYTHING! That was awful. Then it took so long for my legs to regain feeling that I wasn’t aloud to stand up and hold my baby for a day. My second delivery was horrible too and one nurse was so obnoxiously rude that I will forever remember it as a bad experience. I would HIGHLY recommend a more holistic approach. I know you two (since delivery is such a team process) will do great at it!

  • cary November 11, 2011, 3:55 pm

    I live in Virginia, so I’m obviously not familiar with the situation where you live. But, when I was pregnant with my first, I desperately wanted a home birth, but direct entry midwives couldn’t practice legally in Virginia at the time, and I didn’t know of any CNMs that attended home births – and I looked! So, I had my first baby in the hospital, and, to this day, I regret it. But, once I had him, and I started to meet mommy friends, I realized that there is an absolutely wonderful CNM who attends homebirths (legally) in our area. I used her for my second pregnancy, and had a wonderful home birth. I’m being long winded, but my point is that there might be someone that you don’t know of, unless you already know people in the natural birthing community in your area (and, maybe you do, given your husband’s line of work). My suggestion would be to check out a La Leche League meeting (they love it when pregnant women attend)or see if there is an API (attachment parenting international) branch in your area. New mommies love talking to expectant mommies, and you can get a lot of valuable information about what is actually available in your area!

    I just had to see anyone who wants a home birth not get it!

    • CaitlinHTP November 12, 2011, 2:02 pm

      Thanks for the rec to check out La Leche!

  • Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life) November 11, 2011, 3:55 pm

    I’m going to love reading about your pregnancy experience- so exciting! :)Here’s a link to an article a friend of mine wrote about her experience at a local birthing center:

  • Amanda November 11, 2011, 3:57 pm

    That movie also completely changed the way I view the whole birthing process and how hospitals handle it. There was some surprising info in there, to say the least.

    That birthing center looks beautiful.

  • Veronica November 11, 2011, 3:59 pm

    Entirely my own thoughts here:

    I had my first son the “traditional” way in a hospital. I attempted a natural birth but I was not well-prepared for it and ended up with an epidural and several interventions. (I thought a natural birth just entailed toughing it out and refusing pain meds, but its so much more and really requires preparations.)

    I came out of it with a resolve to go completely natural the next time. When I got pregnant again I did more reading and preparing and empowered myself. I had our 2nd completely naturally and loved it. Our baby was born into his daddy’s clean, warm hands. The first sensation he ever felt was skin-on-skin instead of cold rubber gloves. I bonded better with my 2nd, was happier post-birth, and just felt….better. Hurt? Yes, but I was never out of my mind. In fact, our 2 yr old was asleep in the next bedroom the whole time. I just moaned and grimaced a lot.

    I’ve heard stories like my own time and time again. Hospital first, hated the experience, sought out the natural way for subsequent births and loved it. So that begs the question – if the hospital was such a great place to labor, why do so many women choose to go elsewhere in the future? Choosing to endure significant pain than having to do the hospital experience again? I think that alone speaks for itself.

    I urge you to read “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way” by Susan McCutcheon. Then make your decision. For healthy, self-aware, informed couples, the natural way is usually the best and most satisfying. Something you cannot put a price on!

    • Caitlin November 12, 2011, 2:03 pm

      I have not read that but I’m going to check it out. Thanks!

  • m November 11, 2011, 4:01 pm

    Like a few people commented, I would definitely not dismiss your OBYN right away (I also have seen business of being born, but am also in a traditional medical school and know that treatment is not universal)… I totally support midwives, but also ask them about emergency situations and what the contingency plan is? Most birthing centers are a happy compromise b/c they have the backup should things (hopefully not) take a turn that might need surgery.

    I hope you find a good compromise… definitely just make sure to empower yourself and feel that you have the right to ask as many questions as you desire. Also, really check in with your insurance to make sure there is no way they’ll help cover. Even if the birthing center doesn’t accept their insurance, some companies might offer a reimbursement given its often a less costly care for them.

  • Brandy November 11, 2011, 4:04 pm

    What if you have to have csection? Wouldnt u want access to the hospital? I never dreamed I would of had to have one, but I did.

    • CaitlinHTP November 11, 2011, 4:05 pm

      They can transport you in an ambulance.

  • Marci November 11, 2011, 4:04 pm

    I watched Business of Being Born before we got pregnant too, and was glad to learn about “the other side.” But since then, I’ve talked to a lot of friends and my own doctor, and will do a hospital birth. Just remember that movie is very one-sided. Being in Houston with the best hospitals and children’s hospitals in the world and the best trained doctors, it’s right for us. And while researching the hospitals, many are a little more flexible and mom/baby friendly regarding how you labor, deliver, recover, etc.

  • Kerri November 11, 2011, 4:09 pm

    Be thankful the greatest distance is only 25 minutes! When I eventually have kids it’ll be a two-hour drive to the closest hospital that routinely delivers. Not looking forward to eventually labouring through that!

    • Caitlin November 12, 2011, 2:03 pm

      two hours!? UGH! So unfair.

  • Vanessa (@IsleStyleLiving) November 11, 2011, 4:09 pm

    That birthing center looks great!

    If we had standalone birthing centers in Hawaii that’s where I’d be.

    And just as a head’s up, a lot of hospital “policy” is just that- policy, not LAW. You can opt out of most procedures (as long as you’re not high risk and your doctor is on your side).

    If you’re going to go with the hospital, you can still have an unmedicated, natural birth. Just be prepared to be very assertive about your desires.

    I’d recommend taking the Bradley Method class. I haven’t given birth yet but our instructor taught us how to start a dialogue with our doctors and hospital staff, and WHY some procedures are necessary and some are not. That way WE make the informed decision, not just get pushed along by medical staff.

    Good luck with whatever choice you make- do what’s best for you and your family!

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen November 11, 2011, 4:16 pm

    I know you didn’t ask for advice and I’m not trying to give it…I think you should do what you feel is best for you! Just wanted to share something that really made me think twice about my thoughts on birthing centers (which after watching the business of being born I was very much for.) My coworker and good friend had a great pregnancy and an equally great delivery in a local hospital’s birthing center with no NICU. As they were about to leave to go home after 2 days the staff realized the baby was turning bluer. Turns out (to make a long story short) the baby was born with HLHS (a very serious congential heart defect) that went completely undected through her pregnancy. Since there was no NICU on site, the baby was rushed to the nearest hospital and they were told had they gotten there 10 mins later she would’ve died in transit. It amazed me (and them) how things could go from good to life-threatening bad so quickly and completely made me rethink the whole birthing center thing. While I don’t agree with many of the practices hospitals employ, the comfort & peace of mind of having intensive care abilities on site definitely trumps a relaxing, “holistic” birth experience for me. I’m not pregnant so I can’t say this is what I would do or did, just my opinion on it now. Hopefully you don’t have to deal with any of this and have a healthy baby to begin with!

    • Noelle November 11, 2011, 5:26 pm

      I completely agree with me. You just never know whats going to happen, ANYTHING can happen, and time could be the determining factor in a serious matter of life or death. Birth really complicated and seriously traumatic, do whats right for you but ask A LOT of questions.

      • Noelle November 11, 2011, 5:27 pm

        I meant, I completely agree with Gina 🙂

      • Caitlin November 12, 2011, 2:04 pm

        Anything can happen but I’m not going to make fear-based medical decisions.

  • Claire November 11, 2011, 4:26 pm

    Big contributors to quality of medical experience are one, the medical staff treating you at your facility, and two, being an advocate for yourself and what you want. I don’t know the reputation of the hospital near you, but you and your husband sound like you will carefully consider what you are looking for in your birthing experience. That will go a long way.

    People sound like they have had good experiences with hospital and non-hospital births. One important question to consider is, has anyone who had an emergency birth issue–c-section, baby in danger, etc.–wished they were with a midwife at a non-hospital birthing center? Non-hospital may be more what you want in advance of the birth, but not in an emergency, and you cannot know in advance whether that will be your situation (of course, everyone hopes it is not!)

  • Lisa November 11, 2011, 4:32 pm

    I had a baby on June 24th 2011.
    I had a Midwife but opted to deliver in the hospital ( a home birth was possible).
    Reason being that you just never know….there are so many unknows and Id hate to have something happen and live with the guilt of that.
    Everything was perfectly fine.I delivered after 32 hours of labour (24 drug free) at 1:12pm and was discharged at 4:30pm….

  • Jessica November 11, 2011, 4:32 pm

    I really wish there was a birthing center close to me, I’ve seen pictures from other people’s experiences and it seems so awesome!

    I didn’t have any problems with my birth experience at a hospital, but I also didn’t educate myself about a lot of things before hand (breastfeeding, epidurals, etc).

  • Veronica November 11, 2011, 4:34 pm

    I want to throw in that since you own a blog, people will start coming out of the woodwork with every horrible birth experience imaginable and it will scare you.

    But consider your source. You don’t hear those horror stories from women who birthed at home or in a center nearly as often. You hear them from women who labor in a hospital. So although these stories may scare you into a hospital, they should actually scare you out of one. If you read 100 awful reviews and experiences of a hotel, would you stay at that hotel?

    • Caitlin November 12, 2011, 2:05 pm

      Yeah – I’m already tired of the scare stories. You can find a scare story for pretty much everything – hospital birth or birthing center birth.

  • lauren November 11, 2011, 4:57 pm

    Wow, so many decisions to make! I think I live in a bubble. Where I live, everyone just seems to deliver at the hospital – but it isn’t your typical hospital, it’s a specialty hospital called Women and Infants. I don’t have kids yet, but I’ve visited people there and heard about good experiences there.

  • Katie @ Peace Love and Oats November 11, 2011, 4:58 pm

    I’ve never given birth, however, I personally don’t think the nicer atmosphere would be worth the extra money. I have a feeling I won’t be noticing the decor of the room when I’m pushing a person out of me… Haha but, I’m only imagining the last bit, not the entire course of labor.

  • Katelyn November 11, 2011, 5:23 pm

    SO excited for you and hubby!!!!

    Is sunflower butter just as expensive as almond butter?

    • Caitlin November 12, 2011, 2:05 pm

      It’s cheaper!

  • crystal November 11, 2011, 5:28 pm

    Are you planning on laboring water at all? That was all the kept me from killing people in labor. I even had a water birth with my second!

  • Kristen @ The Concrete Runner November 11, 2011, 5:30 pm

    So cool that you have a birthing center close by. And don’t worry, I had a baby 3 weeks ago and am still in disbelief that my pregnancy ended with a baby! 😉

  • Lili November 11, 2011, 5:37 pm

    Hi Caitlin! I’m an avid reader here ….but I might have missed some of your posts…. Are you expecting?? 🙂

  • Katherine November 11, 2011, 5:45 pm

    Couple of things – I had a baby in July (best thing I’ve ever done by the way…Congratulations to you two!). I had an all natural hospital birth with a midwife which a was a wonderful decision because I had a 4th degree tear and needed an OB surgeon to stitch me up (the midwife didn’t stitch that degree of a tear). Regarding your fears about the hospital making you do things you don’t want to: my water broke before I went into labor. We went in to the hospital and they wanted me to stay to induce if I didn’t go into labor on my own in 6 hours. After consulting with my doula, we decided to leave. I had to sign all this paperwork saying I was leaving against medical advice which at the time was pretty scary. We went home and I eventually went into labor on my own using acupressure (yea chinese medicine!!) The number one thing I can recommend is hire a doula. My doula was the best resource and wonderful representative for me at the hospital. My husband is so in love with her now because she was such a guiding light for both of us. Also, I labored at home for as long as I could stand it and the 5 minute drive to the hospital felt like an eternity. 25 minutes would be hard. I kept saying to my hubby “drive slower” but “get there faster!”. Whatever you decide will be right for you and your family. Follow your instinct. Also – I used to live in Asheville, NC and had tons of friends who had home births. You can find someone if that’s the path you want to take. Thanks for taking my 2 cents! Best of luck.

    • Caitlin November 12, 2011, 2:06 pm

      Asheville is so hippie. I wish we lived there sometimes!

    • Susan - Nurse on the Run November 16, 2011, 11:39 am

      Late reply here since I’ve been away from my computer (so nice!), but make sure you check with insurance policies on how they work with signing out of a hospital against medical advice…this sometimes means that they won’t pay, and even if you have next to nothing done to you, simply walking into the hospital will cost you!

  • Anne Weber-Falk November 11, 2011, 5:51 pm

    On a lighter note…I was wondering about that big mouth at the side of your sink. What is it? I love the tongue hanging out of it. I’d love to get one for my sister.

    • Caitlin November 12, 2011, 2:09 pm

      Hubby gave it to me when we started to date. It’s a sponge holder 🙂

  • Kate Z. November 11, 2011, 6:09 pm

    Hey Caitlin, congrats!!! Best of luck with your decision about hospital vs. birthing center. Maybe a hospital birthing suite with a midwife would be a good compromise for your first birth? I think feeling comfortable wherever you choose is very important- in terms of the physiology of birth! I think that feeling uncomfortable can really interfere with the complex natural process of birth. Anyway, I was wondering if you could do a post on your journey to pregnancy and how you got pregnant, etc. Hope you have a wonderful pregnancy!

  • Ash November 11, 2011, 6:22 pm

    Definitely agree with checking out your options, but realize that every pregnancy develops differently and you may have to set aside some choices in the interest of safety. I’m a mom to 4 kids, ages 16 to 8 mos. My first 3 were born vaginally, quite easy deliveries. my last pregnancy I developed complete placenta previa. This condition is diagnosed thru ultrasound and then repeated ultrasounds are done to assess the condition throughout the pregnancy. There was no safe way I could have given birth naturally as the placenta was blocking the baby’s way out. As much as I never wanted a c-section, this was the only option to safely deliver my son (and keep me from hemorrhaging). Just educate yourself fully, ask lots of questions, and you will feel better about the experience of childbirth, no matter where the setting is.

  • AmandaRunsNY November 11, 2011, 6:30 pm

    I’m all about the birthing center because I believe in natural childbirth (if it’s healthy for the Mom and baby), but given the cost factor, have you thought about a doula? They help with childbirth and typically are allowed in hospitals during the labor. Also, my mom gave birth to me and all my siblings in a hospital but under the direction of a midwife. (Even though I’m not a Mom, my Mom and Sister are extremely interested in this (and my sister works in the field) so I hear them talk all the time.)

  • hilary November 11, 2011, 6:31 pm

    I traveled 30 minutes to our birthing center and will do it again with the next baby in June. No question. It was worth it and the drive went pretty fast all things considered. Just hope to make the trip in the middle of the night with no traffic! We had an awesome experience that no hospital setting could replicate.

  • Laura November 11, 2011, 7:30 pm

    So interesting hearing the different stories! I think the most important thing is to know what you want and stick by it. I’ve had friends who birthed in a birthing center, the baby had complications, was rushed to NICU, but the baby turned out fine (and they don’t regret the birthing center, at ALL). Both of my brothers are MDs and both of their wives had babies in the hospital (but both women were, again, very vocal about what they wanted, one had a VBAC). I think the most important thing is knowing your own mind. I’ve thought about a home birth (when I do get pregnant) and personally think I’d prefer a place where I know there would be a Dr. on hand if I needed one. But I live in a family with a lot of medical people, so I know what my options are, and aren’t afraid to be vocal about them.

  • Kari @ Human, MD November 11, 2011, 8:06 pm

    I’m so excited for you and love reading as you go through this pregnancy! The hospital I work at has a child birth unit that does everything from midwife deliveries to crash c-sections to planned deliveries for known baby complications. The rooms are private and comfortable, not like standard hospital rooms but not like home. There’s a tub in each room to use during labor and/or for a water delivery. I’ve delivered about 50 babies in the last three weeks and have seen everything from a smooth sailing water birth to holistic birthing plan abandoned due to pain, fast one push delivery with epidural, stalled labor with no epidural, footling breech, successful vbac, and many normal hurts-lot-but-forget-as-soon-as-mom-sees-baby deliveries. We strongly encourage immediate skin to. Skin contact with mom unless there’s reason not to. We also strongly encourage breastfeeding unless contraindicated. Most deliveries go fine and most babies come out healthy.

    I’m so glad you’re spending time to find a place your comfortable with! I hope you find a place with the right a lance of comfort, cost, and flexibility! My advice would be to find an obgyn or midwife that youre comfortable with and is on the same page as you. Any place the recommend delivering will probably fit what you want!

  • Brandy November 11, 2011, 9:17 pm

    My one hour pre-natal appointments, having my midwife’s home number, being encouraged to have a healthy pregnancy through good nutrition, exercise, acupuncture and herbs/supplements, being allowed to go to 42 weeks (most doctors will not let you go past 41w for liability reasons, even though most first time moms will not naturally go into labor until 41w2d), being able to eat and drink during labor, birth how I wanted and have someone really care about my breastfeeding relationship made the $5100 I spent on my prenatal care and delivery worth every penny. Knowing what I know now, I’d pay even more to do it that way again.

    • Caitlin November 12, 2011, 2:07 pm

      This comment sums up how I feel.

  • Kelsey November 11, 2011, 9:27 pm

    i’d be very interested in hearing your reasons for wanting a natural/hollistic/home birth/birthing center birth. i’m not married or anywhere near ready for kids but i just think of things in such a different way than you – i’d want to be in a hospital “just in case” and if they told me not to eat, i’d probably be too scared to eat! and basically just wouldn’t want to take too much of a risk on anything baby related. i can’t wait to read about your journey and would love to hear more about your beliefs!

  • Diana @ frontyardfoodie November 11, 2011, 9:27 pm

    When a first labor lasts an average of 18 hours 25 minutes is NOTHING!

    Money would definitely be the deciding factor. As sad as that is, our country is in a bind with insurance and cost of birthing. It’s crazy how much cheaper a birth like this one would be except that it’s more than a deductible.

    We don’t have even a birthing center within a reasonable driving distance so I had to give birth at a hospital but it had an entire floor dedicated to labor, birth and recovery and I was able to have a completely natural birth with my midwife so I was really happy about that.

    Watch Pregnant in America! It’s so good and on Netflix Instant Watch.

  • Lynn November 11, 2011, 9:32 pm

    (If you haven’t explored this yet…)

    hypothetical question: if there WAS a birthing center that was in network with your insurance, would they cover anything?

    because if there is…some insurances offer a type of exception where, if nothing in-network is available within a certain distance (in your case, birthing center), they may approve you to get in network benefits at the one you want (or at least slightly better than out of pocket).

    Disclaimer, not all insurances offer that but it’s worth a try!

    If you haven’t yet, call your insurance, you may have to jump through a million hoops and it may be annoying, but you could come up with some coverage.

    Good luck!!

    • Caitlin November 12, 2011, 2:07 pm

      Oh thanks for this suggestion. I am going to look into this!

  • Penny November 11, 2011, 9:50 pm

    I still can’t believe you’re pregnant! So exciting!

  • Ali November 11, 2011, 10:43 pm

    I think you should go for what’s best for you and your family. Even though you’re probably a low-risk pregnancy, my mom (a health care professional) swears by birthing in a hospital because even though there’s a smaller likelyhood of something going wrong, something still COULD go wrong, and require a NICU or specialized people. Maybe to compromise a hospital w/ a birthing center?

  • Nicole Mullins November 11, 2011, 11:50 pm

    I’m jealous! Where we’re currently living my only options are a hospital birth with an OBGYN or a home birth with a midwife. I’ve been there done that at the hospital and I’m not going back if there’s a second baby in my future, so I will deliver at home but I hate that I don’t even get to go tour a birth center like that! It seems like a happy medium..?

  • Caileigh November 12, 2011, 12:04 am

    I’m sorry, but what on earth is the green thing in your mouth in the first picture?

    • Dani Eats Veggies November 12, 2011, 4:06 pm

      she answered that later on… it’s the green apple.

  • Carin November 12, 2011, 12:37 am

    Hi honey, just wanted to weigh in with my experience!

    PLEASE don’t get too fixated on the birth or your choice of place. I went with a hospital, because at the end of the day, my obligation was toward the baby and if we needed medical help, I wanted the best possible assistance to be there on hand – not a transfer and potential delay away. I am so thankful I made that decision, because I ended up having C-sections, despite wanting a natural, holistic hippy-zippy birth (I’m old, so I had a long time to ‘hone’ my vision of the perfect birth! I was scared, disappointed and annoyed that I had sections instead of ‘my’ antipated birth, but now with hindsight absolutely appreciate that it was the right call – the little gymnasts had both twisted in-otero and Freya had the cord around her neck, Jake had a true knot in his cord, which could potentially have been fatal on a vaginal delivery.

    Save your money (you’ll need it later!), go for what’s safe, convenient and something you feel confident about.

    A useful analogy – it’s like focussing on the wedding, not the relationship. The birth is a wonderful experience, but it’s just a starting point to your life as parents… It’s not all that important what music is playing or which candles are burning, because really all that it’s about is welcoming your baby and becoming a family.

    • Sarah November 12, 2011, 1:08 am

      Could not agree more. The wedding analogy is so very very true.

    • Ellie November 13, 2011, 2:45 am

      I feel the same way as Carin (great wedding analogy!), though I have never been pregnant so it’s possible that my feelings will change when I do become pregnant. I really want kids and hope to start in on this relatively soon, but I want to have CHILDREN, not babies, or a birth/pregnancy experience. To me, the reward of having children lasts a lifetime and that’s what I’m really looking forward to as opposed to the pregnancy/baby experience, which I am really disinterested in. As such, I kind of see the pregnancy and birth in particular as the ultimate “means to an end.” I would prefer to give birth in a hospital because I honestly want to focus on it as little as possible and have maximum pain meds. I know many people consider giving birth the ultimate memorable experience, but I don’t want to run a marathon or climb Mt. Everest either – these things I can live without. Of course, it’s totally reasonable and natural to focus on your current circumstances, and I feel like most people are actually into babies and being pregnant and the birth experience and all that stuff. I don’t have any problem with people who are really invested in this kind of thing, and I admire their scrupulousness, it’s just not something that is really important to me. But, you know, I could change my mind too.

  • Sarah November 12, 2011, 1:07 am

    Hi – I’m a totally new reader, actually lured in by your healthy eating and exercise! I love your blog and am completely inspired!! I live in Sydney, Australia and you’d fit in very well round where I live 🙂
    Congratulations on your pregnancy! It is SUCH an exciting time. Well done on keeping up the good food and exercise. With my first pregnancy I could NOT eat anything green without gagging. Even the THOUGHT of salad… shudder. I was STARVING all the time and couldn’t only stomach hot chips and pies….how bad is that? Thankfully I recovered by about week 20!!
    I have two wee boys 1 and 2 :). Both born in a hospital. First with an OB in attendence …. second time round it was all too fast and she didn’t get there in time!
    To be honest, all I cared about was my baby arriving safely and how to cope AFTER it arrived. During labour I couldn’t care less HOW or WHERE they came into the world. You just want them out and birth plans become meaningless.
    Therefore, I think part of your decision should involve not considering not only labour and delivery but your postnatal care.
    Those first few days – they rock your world but are so important. Learning how to breastfeed (if you choose to), how to care for your wee one, healing yourself, eating well, sleeping when you can, 3rd day baby blues when your milk comes in -you’ll be sitting there with your boobs out bawling – trust me!! Consider who will help you out with all that and in what environment you want to be in. Once he/she arrives that is all that will matter, not the how or who was involved in a few hours of the labour/delivery journey. Looking forward to the journey!!

    • Carin November 12, 2011, 2:45 am

      Hi Sarah
      I’m in Auckland, NZ and have ben trying to lure Caitlin “down under” for ages! Maybe she’ll make the trip with bub in tow while he/she is under 2 and gets the skycot (and nets the parents extra legroom…. sweet!).
      I so agree with your last paragraph – because I ended up with Caesars I was in hospital for 5 days each time, but that was GOLD in terms of giving me rest, having experts on hand to guide and reassure and making sure I wasn’t concentrating on anything except bubs.
      And hahaha – I remember Day 3 soooooooo well! LOL

    • Caitlin November 12, 2011, 2:08 pm

      Thanks for this comment!

  • Yolie @ Practising Wellness November 12, 2011, 2:07 am

    Oh my goodness, that birthing centre looks absolutely incredible…it’s more like a hotel than a “hospital” type place, lol! 😛 SO beautiful and peaceful and comforting and homey…I would absolutely love to give birth somewhere like that. Dude, I’m so happy it’s the weekend too – so looking forward to relaxing and having two whole days FREE! 😀 Have a wonderful one! xyx

  • Kristen November 12, 2011, 9:27 am

    It’s so interesting to read everyone perspective on this! Obviously, the birthing center looks like a much warmer and more homey environment than most hospital rooms. Generally, I’ve always been a huge fan of alternative medicine, fewer prescription drugs, less intervention, etc. I’ve also watched “The Business of Being Born” and I think that it does raise some excellent points, although it is pretty one-sided. However, the one thing that keeps me from embracing the idea of a birthing center is something that my husband said when we watched the movie together. His point was basically that yes, it can be challenging to have your wishes heard if you go the traditional hospital route, but it’s not impossible. And yes, birthing centers are a lovely, relaxing, and more natural way to give birth. BUT, many years ago, when “non-intervention” births were the *only* option, many more women and babies died from complications associated with the birthing process. Medical intervention,*when needed*, is what has changed that! For me, I believe the right option would be to go with a birthing center attached to a hospital, just in case. Seems like the best of both worlds! Whatever you decide, I hope you have a healthy, happy pregnancy and I can’t wait to read more about your journey! 🙂

    • Charmaine November 12, 2011, 8:48 pm

      “BUT, many years ago, when “non-intervention” births were the *only* option, many more women and babies died from complications associated with the birthing process. Medical intervention,*when needed*, is what has changed that! ”

      Actually, when they first started intervening in births, WAY more women and babies died. Forceps were gruesome. So were craniotomies (if the baby died in transit, they’d bash the scull and pull the baby out in pieces). And symphyseotomies? They’d cut the pelvic girdle in half and you’d be permanently incontinent with an inverted (read: hanging outside your body) vagina – and that’s if you survived. C-sections were a last resort, say Hello to single dad. The history of medical intervention did not leave a bloodless trail.

      Your comment kind of reads like “once men/doctors came into the birthing room and began offering life-saving interventions, women were miraculously saved from the dangers of birth” – which isn’t the case at all. “Many years ago”, women were more likely to die of tuberculosis than in childbirth. Actually, they were more likely to die of a lot of other things besides child birth. Our society sensationalizes the idea that birth is an emergency situation, inherently dangerous. It’s not. And historically, it wasn’t until those medical interventions made their debut on guinea pigs, i mean, women.

      • Ellie November 13, 2011, 2:56 am

        All of these “interventions” you describe are indeed gruesome, but they do not happen anymore in Western hospitals. With this in mind, the dangers of intervention no longer exist, while the dangers of childbirth do still exist. While these dangers may perhaps be sensationalized, that doesn’t mean they’re not real. In countries with less access to medical care, women can suffer from terrible complications of giving birth, namely fistulas. These are much more common than you would think and also incredibly correctable with surgery, not to mention preventable by medical assistance with birth in the first place. Furthermore, think about it – we all know many people who were born via C-section. What would have happened to them if medical intervention did not exist?

        • Ellie November 13, 2011, 2:58 am

          Sorry, I didn’t mean to say “Western” – I was using it as a catchall for places with universal access to standard advanced hospital facilities, which of course isn’t limited to the “West”; it was a thoughtless usage.

  • Therese November 12, 2011, 9:44 am

    I’m a baby nurse and the whole “speeding to the hospital to deliver” usually just happens in the movies. The only exception is if your mom had a precipitous labor (delivered very, very, quickly). In that case, you want to plan to deliver near home. But if you love everything else about the birth center, don’t let the 25 minute drive scare you. Out-of-pocket payments, however, are much scarier. Here in Kansas City, it costs $4,500 to have a baby at a birth center without insurance. But you do have 8-ish months to save up for that.

    On the safety note, are the midwives Certified Nurse Midwives? CNMs are by law not allowed to take high-risk patients so I feel that it’s very safe to have a baby at a birth center with them. You wouldn’t be there if you were a risk! The Midwives should also be NRP certified and able to resuscitate a baby while an ambulance is on the way if needed in the worst-case scenario.

    Good luck choosing! I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, too.

    • Caitlin November 12, 2011, 2:09 pm

      They are CNMS so yeah, it has to be low risk anyway.

  • Crystal November 12, 2011, 9:51 am

    Be careful not to get sucked into the “my insurance will pay for it” trap! Really investigate what your out of pocket max for the year is. Unless you are in with an amazing group plan or pay $300/mo, you most likely have a few + thousand dollar out of pocket max. Most out of network practices know this and work their prices accordingly. Not to mention, those who give birth in a hospital are almost 50% more likely to end with a c-section and that is a huge cost (surgery) and other medical expenses. In addition, with a hospital, you are going to have to work much harder in making your goals/desires heard, as they are schooled in much more medical intervention (and that is how they make money). Is that how you want to spend your energy while giving birth, fighting off nurses and doctors? Also, everyone is going to have a negative story about every single option out there, don’t get caught up in those either. Follow your gut!

    • Caitlin November 12, 2011, 2:09 pm

      My deductible is $10,000 – UGH.

      • Crystal November 12, 2011, 7:34 pm

        Well then, I don’t think you even need to factor insurance into your plan! I live in a very expensive area (outside of Aspen) and the average birth at a birthing center is around $8,000. I can’t imagine Charlotte being more than that. I don’t have any clue how we will afford kids but everyone has told me, it never works on paper, but it always works!

  • Meagan November 12, 2011, 10:07 am

    I didn’t read the comments, but I’ll tell you my experience.

    We have to pay for private insurance, because my husband works at a start-up. In Texas, there is no way to get maternity coverage on private insurance. It just doesn’t exist.

    Given that, my husband and I chose the local birthing center. It was a great price for all the prenatal care, delivery and PP checkups–$4,000.

    However, after three days of labor, I had to transfer and–because our insurance doesn’t have maternity–pay for the delivery out of pocket. Which totaled around $7,000. Not too bad, because my husband was a complete shark and went after every cash discount he could find.

    I don’t say this to scare you–and you mention you have insurance, which is awesome–but it *is* something to consider. Having to pay for two L&Ds definitely put us back a bit. Next time, though I *loved* the birthing center, we’ll be paying up front for an OB/GYN delivery so we don’t have to pay twice. We’re lucky that our town has very holistic-minded OB practices, so the choice isn’t too hard.

    • Meagan November 12, 2011, 10:11 am

      Oh, and my hospital delivery? AWESOME! The nurses were so, so kind and helpful. They knew I had disappointed hopes and was in a lot of pain and they did everything to make me comfortable and relaxed.

      I assisted my best friend with her birth last June, and the nurse was practically a doula. She stayed with her over her shift time, helped us help her and was just amazing. She was very pro-med-free birth.

      I’ve had very good experiences with births in hospitals.

  • Kayla @ November 12, 2011, 10:57 am

    It might be sad but I feel happy knowing someone else has a sink that looks like that (will not talk about how long mine has looked like that though :))

  • Amber K November 12, 2011, 1:09 pm

    Definitely a lot of decisions to be made. But making the ones that are right for you and your situation is so important. I’ll have to watch the movie you mentioned, plus the one I saw in the comments. While I may not be pregnant, I’m curious about stuff that apparently turned people off to hospital births!

  • Shallin November 12, 2011, 2:42 pm

    Caitlin, are you looking into having a doula with you and the Husband at your birth? I am currently going through the certification process through DONA International to become a doula and love every minute of it!

    • Caitlin November 13, 2011, 1:07 pm

      I am definitely thinking about it. Are you in Charlotte? Wanna be my doula?!

  • Julia H. @ The Petite Spiel November 12, 2011, 3:31 pm

    What is that open-mouthed figurine near your sink in that photo?? Haha.

    And that birthing center looks BEAUTIFUL. I can imagine how tempting that must be!

    • Caitlin November 13, 2011, 1:08 pm

      Haha its a sponge holder 😉

  • Sarah November 12, 2011, 5:32 pm

    Do you know WHY laboring women are not allowed to eat or drink?

  • kristin November 12, 2011, 6:15 pm

    Congrats Caitlin! This is so exciting I’m so happy for you!

    I’m 24 wks and I just talked to my midwife about the birth stuff yesterday. I have an obgyn practice that has 2 midwives in addition to the Drs. I live on the eastern tip of long island and its impractical for me to go to the nearest birth center which is 1.5-2 hrs away. I haven’t done the hospital tour yet but My midwife said that the hospital is great, they have labor tubs and are down with different labor positions. She also said that the doctors fully support unmedicated and low intervention births for patients with low risk pregnancies. She also said that they have a “no intervention” order you can get put on your file so no one pressures you into anything you don’t want. I was pleasantly surprised with the hospitals policies! I dream of having a home birth but we live 40 mins from the hospital as is and I want to be in a hospital for my first because I don’t know what it will be like.

    Good luck making your decisions! For my advice I’d say check out the hospitals policies they might not be as bad as you think!

    • Caitlin November 13, 2011, 1:12 pm

      I am excited to go on our hospital tour on the 22nd. I hope its like your hospital!

  • Donna November 12, 2011, 6:34 pm

    I’m so happy for you and your hubby! Must tell you, though, that I’m so old that all of my kids are in their 40s and 50s! Back in the day, I figured that I had lugged this kid around for 9 months, so just put me to sleep and hand me a clean baby when I wake up. If I had had to go through a “natural childbirth” I probably wouldn’t have had 4 kids in 6 years. They all turned out to be wonderful, healthy grown-ups that I’m so very proud of. And all you gals that have commented truly have my admiration. We just didn’t “know any better” way back then. LOL Again. congratulations to all of you for doing a great job!

  • Sara @ OurDogBuffy November 13, 2011, 12:18 am

    I am probably such a big baby, but I plan to give birth to my future child in a hospital with doctors who can help me should something horrible happen. And I have been advised by co-workers not to try to be a “super woman” and ask for an epidural if I need one. Good luck with your tours! It’s good that you are going through all of your options and will make a well-informed decision 🙂 Great move. I’m not sure of other options (besides a hospital) near us, but since we’re no where NEAR being ready to have a child, I guess that is OK for now.

  • Jamie @ Food in Real Life November 13, 2011, 8:23 am

    My hospital and OBGYN are both 35 min away. It’s worth it if its the right place. Out of pocket pre-natal care though is sure to be really $$$ I know I couldn’t afford it.

  • Natalie November 13, 2011, 9:30 am

    I had my first baby 7 weeks ago in a hospital with an Obgyn. I was also super interested in natural birth, midwives, home birth, etc. living in iowa, home birth was not am option for me either 🙁
    I decided that I would do everything I could for a natural birth and my doctor was really supportive of it and said they would be at the hospital, too. And they were!! I know not everywhere is, but I had a great experience. I knew what I wanted and maybe even more importantly, my husband knew and supported what I wanted and he was definitely my voice of reason when I was begging for an epidural 😉 In the end, I ended up completely natural and could not have been more thrilled…my baby was so alert and ready to try breastfeeding after birth which was so amazing, and honestly I loved being able to feel when I was pushing! I also watched business of being born and also pregnant in america which was pretty good. I also read natural childbirth the bradley way (sometimes known as husband coached childbirth) and sooo glad I did!! I wish I would have read it before 35 weeks though so I could practice the exercises longer. My husband also read it which helped us be on the same page so much! definitely recommend. They also have bradley classes…you should see if there are some in your area! Good luck!

    • Caitlin November 13, 2011, 1:14 pm

      Yay! Congrats on your baby 🙂 This comment makes me so excited.

  • Diana November 29, 2011, 3:37 pm

    I highly recommend reading up on Hypnobirthing. Some of the tools you gain from the book and class is what helped me get through two very quick non medicated births in a hospital. Feel free to email for more details on my experience.

  • Carol September 5, 2013, 4:11 am

    What did you decide and how was your experience? I’m interested in CCMC and came across this blog from 2011 and I would love to know. Hope you’re doing well, mama!

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