Why I’m Choosing A Midwife and Birth Center

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the internet is full of heated debates when it comes to childbirth (and then parenting), so let me start this post by saying there is no wrong way to give birth. women need to do what’s right for us so if you choose to go to a doctor in a hospital – more power to you! if you choose to birth in the woods with a midwife and emergency plan – more power to you!

for me, i am choosing to give birth at a birth center and use a midwife. what does this mean exactly? it means that there are no doctors and no hospitals involved. for all of my prenatal appointments, i meet with certified nurse midwives (which means she is a nurse and then has a master’s degree in midwifery) and i have not seen a doctor or OB/GYN nor will there be one present when i give birth.

choosing a birth center and midwife

to be honest, initially i did not know that i would choose this. i only know one person who has given birth at a birthing center and i’ve never heard her birth story (hi danielle!). i always assumed i would just go to a doctor and hospital because that’s “what you do here” (those are really large air quotes). after i got pregnant, i started learning more about my options and here we are! i also want to say i am obviously not a medical professional so please educate yourself for what is the safest and best option for you and your baby.

mountain midwifery birth center

this may come as a shock, especially for those of us living in the united states where we are so used to births involving screaming women, on their backs, in hospital rooms with a doctor popping in last minute to deliver the baby. my decision shocked a few family members so here’s how i explain the difference.

first, let’s talk midwife vs. doctor

a midwife is incredibly knowledgeable and experienced specifically in helping healthy women birth healthy babies – usually about 90% of births. midwives believe that pregnancy and birth are a state health for most people and trust that our bodies can grow and birth a baby. after all, women have been giving birth for hundreds of thousands of years. if you haven’t seen the documentary “the business of being born” i highly recommend it and it’s on netflix right now (just note that it’s slanted towards natural birthing and you definitely see ricki lake give birth). this whole approach speaks to my social worker mind about a strengths-based approach and empowerment so it’s feeling quite right for me.

doctors are important and save lives so midwives (and me) absolutely love them! the more natural view of birth is that instead of assuming you need to go to the doctor right from the beginning, even if you are healthy, instead you see a doctor should you need their specialized skills. the birthing center i’ll be at is literally 3 minutes away from a hospital should we need any additional medical support beyond what the birthing center can offer.

a birth center vs. hospital

you can only deliver at a birth center if you are a healthy woman who is having a healthy baby (positive vibes and thoughts appreciated that i/we remain in this healthy and uncomplicated state). if you develop gestational diabetes, are having twins, or other things on their long list – they will refer you to a hospital because you need the additional support. i will be delivering at ‘mountain midwifery center‘ and they say it’s designed to be a “maxi-home” not a “mini-hospital.” my husband and i toured it and loved it! it has a birthing tub, a luxurious queen size bed, private bathroom and shower. it felt very comfortable with dimmed lights and welcoming atmosphere.

bed birth center

“We strive to allow families to labor and birth in a true home-like environment while providing one-on-one care that helps ensure superior mom and baby outcomes. A true Birth Center is not just pretty birth rooms, it is an education-intensive program of care. From your first visit through the birth of your baby and beyond, MMC’s care is designed to facilitate healthy choices for families.” – mountain midwifery center

at the birth center, they talk about the birthing process as being a form of a high endurance workout, utilizing many muscles. they require you to drink in labor and eating is encouraged – after all you wouldn’t run a marathon without proper hydration and nutrition along the way. they don’t allow you to eat or drink in a hospital because there is a small chance that you could potentially need surgery so they make that rule go for every woman in labor.

another great thing about the birth center is that once you deliver your baby, he or she will be placed in your arms immediately after birth and there that baby will sit for at least an hour while it does the ‘breastfeed crawl’ and latches to you. no whisking baby away and losing out on that vital skin-to-skin bonding which has been proven to be extremely important.

*note: you can still have a natural birth without medication and with a midwife even if you deliver in a hospital!

partner involvement

hold on to you hats for this one – at a birth center your partner can actually help catch the baby if you all make that choice! “catch” refers to the baby making its grand entrance from inside the mother to the outside world (sidenote: in this context, women are the only ones who can deliver a baby while the midwife then catches it). isn’t that awesome and crazy?!

if you know my husband at all – you know he is beyond excited to do this and i am beyond excited he wants to be this involved!

this specific birth center also requires 3 classes that both of us are required to attend including a 4 part series of natural childbirth preparation, a breastfeeding class and a postpartum success class. in addition to the required ones, they also have an array of other classes to participate in and we will be also be taking infant CPR.

you know me, i love anything and everything that my husband and i can do together. since pregnancy is mostly on me (and of course all women in the relationship), this gives him a way to be very involved and that is important to both of us.

pain management

you maybe wondering “so do you get an epidural?!” and the answer is: no. then you may ask “but why go through all that pain if you don’t have to?!” to which my answer is this:

i have shared previously that because of my anxiety, i disengaged with reality frequently as an unhealthy way to cope. there are some literal years and many experiences that i don’t fully remember because i numbed myself out to them. i strive daily to feel present in my life, my feelings and surroundings. when you use an epidural, it numbs the pain but it also numbs a lot of the oxytocin you feel once that sweet baby comes out and i don’t want to miss it. i don’t want to miss any of it.

i have experienced what it’s like to attempt to numb out only my pain/suffering/anxiety but we can’t do that – joy/happiness/excitement also gets numbed out too – involuntarily. i’m done with that chapter of my life so i am ready to experience the full spectrum of birth, including the hard parts too.

part of helping me feel prepared is reading positive and real birth stories that can be found in ‘ina may’s guide to childbirth‘ book. my mind used to have the power to physically make me sick so i should also be able to use it as a tool to help me cope. i want to celebrate the full range of childbirth which will include pain, joy, discomfort and pride but nothing beyond what i can handle. these past few years have proven to me just how powerful our minds can be once we get a handle on them.

birth center denver

also, once you have an epidural it numbs your legs so you are only allowed to birth on your back. this has always seemed a little counterintuitive to me because i definitely think i want gravity on my side to help pull that baby out! at a birth center, you are free to move from whatever position feels right and most comfortable for you. this might be the tub, the shower, a birthing stool, on the bed, leaning over the bed, squatting – whatever your body tells you feels better and i like that freedom.

be educated and do what’s right for you

again, this is my story and my thoughts on why i’m choosing to use a midwife and birth center. only you, as a woman, know what works best for you. i would encourage you to educate yourself on all of the options available so that you can make informed decisions. i am of the firm belief that we get to make our own choices and not live by the expectations of others, including society.

simply because your best friend or sister or mother or cousin or stranger on the street told you how perfect it went for her in her setting does not mean that’s the right choice for you. we are smart, capable women who get to make the right choice for us!

have you considered what type of birth you want if you choose to have a kid? if you are already a mom, what was this process like for you?

choosing a birth center and midwife

ps. i’m a pretty open book when it comes to this and still educating myself so please feel free to ask questions!


  1. Lisa

    April 18, 2016 at 8:11 am

    I love that you’re going to a birth center! I really wanted to with my first but they didn’t have any in Illinois and now that I’m in Seattle I can’t go to one because I’m a VBAC patient and I can’t find one that will allow that. BUT thankfully I’m seeing a super VBAC-friendly OB and am hoping for an awesome hospital birth! Still, I think a birthing center is the way to go and I hope you have a great experience!

    • chelsea

      April 18, 2016 at 8:43 am

      i am so so happy you found a VBAC friendly OB lisa – that is SO great to hear (and bummer about most birth centers not accepting VBAC – i don’t think mine does either. i bet it’s because of increased chance of complications).

      my friend had to have a hospital birth and she had a fantastic experience! they dimmed the lights, lit candles, she had a doula who was a great advocate along the way so i definitely think it’s possible! sending so many good vibes your way!

  2. Elyse

    April 18, 2016 at 8:16 am

    I’ve always been so fascinated by birthing centres thanks to Baby Story. Where I’m from there’s only a couple birthing centres so it’s obviously not the norm. I’ve always known if(and now when) I’d have children I’d be using a hospital thanks to my high-risk nature but the atmosphere of a birthing centre sounds amazing! I think I’d even prefer that over my own house. Can’t wait to hear about experience if you chose to tell us your birth story!
    Elyse recently posted…Marriage And Best Friends

    • chelsea

      April 18, 2016 at 8:47 am

      ohh i’ve never watched ‘a baby story’ before but i’m glad there is exposure on that! yes there are only a handful of birth centers here too, definitely not the norm and i still get a lot of funny looks when i tell people where i’m delivering.

      yes it seems like hospital is definitely the right place for you to make sure you and the baby stay healthy, when the time comes elyse! i had a friend need to birth in a hospital and she found one that was so supportive of the natural birth (so no drugs), they dimmed the lights, lit candles and it was great for her so i definitely think you can create that atmosphere when the time comes!

  3. Pebby

    April 18, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Good for you, Chelsea! I would also recommend looking for a doula. They can help with exercises, different positions, and other things that can help with the pain management. I have a friend who is a doula and she has helped many mothers have a wonderful birth experience. My daughter chose a midwife when she gave birth last year. Although she ended up having a c-section (the baby was getting stuck), she had a wonderful birth experience. Labor is nothing like you have experienced before. Keep an open mind and enjoy!

    • chelsea

      April 18, 2016 at 8:52 am

      thanks for your comment pebby and yes, my husband and i are currently discussing getting a doula! they sound ever so helpful through the process and it seems would also provide him with excellent ways to support me too!

      so glad your daughter still had a wonderful birth experience and that it all worked out! appreciate your comment!

  4. Becca

    April 18, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Good for you! I think birthing centers are a great alternative to hospitals (I could never, ever do it at home, though). I have such an extensive medical history, even though my pregnancy has been by the book, I know I won’t feel comfortable without the safety net of doctors around. But the birthing center is definitely appealing.
    Becca recently posted…What I’m Scared Of

    • chelsea

      April 18, 2016 at 8:57 am

      thanks becca and i’m not sure i could it at home either (this one for sure not since we live in a thin-walled apartment haha could you imagine neighbors hearing that?!). so glad you have found what is right for you and i think i would feel the same if i had an extensive health history too! hope you are still feeling good 🙂

  5. Audrey

    April 18, 2016 at 10:42 am

    This was an interesting read. I really love hearing about birthing and parenting decisions (so keep ’em coming). When my best friend had her daughter I was so fascinated by all the things she learned and went through!
    Honestly, I don’t even want to think about the birthing process. I have trouble stomaching it and the pain involved bothers me. Someday I’d like to really look into it and educate myself on it, but I’m very squimish when it comes to take (even though I think it’s SO interesting what our bodies can do)!!
    Audrey recently posted…Mash-Up Monday

    • chelsea

      April 18, 2016 at 11:12 am

      it’s such a fascinating process and even more so when you’re actually the one it (and i think is a lot of validity to having a close friend go through it first so you can ask all the questions about her experience)!

      i totally understand how you feel audrey because i honestly felt the same. if you haven’t seen ‘the business of being born’ i would highly encourage you to. that documentary was my first step in realizing just how influenced my mind has been by the media’s portrayal of birth and how it always looks miserable. that is not the reality for many women who have an open mind and go into assuming they can handle what our bodies are naturally capable of doing!

  6. Emily

    April 18, 2016 at 10:54 am

    I loved my midwives!!!!! I did give birth at the hospital but I would have chosen a midwife over a doctor anyday!!!!! I was glad I chose a hospital because I lost my precious baby’s heart beat and who knows if we would have lost him if I was anywhere else 😉 good luck you two amazing parentala!!!!!

    • chelsea

      April 18, 2016 at 11:13 am

      so so happy you loved your midwives emily! that makes me so happy to hear! so glad you were in the right place at the right time and now have a happy baby it sounds like! yay!

  7. Rachel @ Countdowns and Cupcakes

    April 18, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Thanks for sharing, Chelsea! I’m a ways off from needing to make my own decision about this, but I like hearing other people’s thought process because there really are so many options out there!
    Rachel @ Countdowns and Cupcakes recently posted…Pasta Salad Recipe

    • chelsea

      April 18, 2016 at 11:15 am

      thanks for reading rachel! yes i had never really considered it until the moment i became pregnant. there really are sooo many options out there and soooo many resources that sometimes it can feel overwhelming!

  8. Sara

    April 18, 2016 at 11:33 am

    I haven’t put a lot of thought into what route we will go when we have children. I do know that the concept of childbirth scares me a little and my first thought would be, give me those drugs! But I really like the idea of creating a birth plan, whatever that may be, to frame it as a positive and memorable occasion.
    Sara recently posted…He Proposed in a Parking Lot

    • chelsea

      April 18, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      i didn’t really think much of it either until i had to, sara 🙂 i know what you mean about initially feeling scared but i would encourage you to check out the documentary i mentioned as it helps to bring forward where those fears come from (the media mostly). yes it’s scary but we are also built for it! glad you are already thinking about a birth plan and making sure it has a positive frame to it – love it!

  9. Nina @ Hugs and Lattes

    April 18, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    I love the *idea* of a birthing center, but I also love the idea of an epidural. My dad is an OBGYN, so I’m probably more prone to the hospital side of things, but I respect and love hearing stories about mama’s in birthing centers. It looks way more homey than a hospital, that is for dang certain. Thankfully I don’t have to put too much consideration into what I want to do yet, but when I do I know I’ll have a tough choice!
    Nina @ Hugs and Lattes recently posted…5 Questions to Ask During a Blogging Break

    • chelsea

      April 18, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      oh yes i am sure having a parent as an OBGYN would totally inform feelings and choices! no harm in considering them all if and when the time comes – there’s a vast world of options!

  10. Stazi Lesnansky

    April 18, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    This made me happy 🙂 we had midwives and I actually delivered at Swedish, but my midwife let Ryan catch the baby, we did delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin – it was pretty amazing. I did end up having an epidural because babs was op and that sucked, but we had an amazing experience. That said, next time it is totally home birth for us, provided we are healthy and low risk! I want the personal space and not having so many people around – I am excited to see how your birthing center experience is! I love that birthing centers offer the option to women who would otherwise end up at a hospital in a possibly very managed labor. And if you haven’t read it, Ina May has a book about breastfeeding too 🙂 still so excited for you guys!
    Stazi Lesnansky recently posted…WIP10

    • chelsea

      April 19, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      that’s so awesome you had midwives at swedish! that gives me hope should i need to deliver there for health reasons yay! so so happy they met all your requests and so awesome your ryan caught the babe!

      thanks also for recommending ina may’s breastfeeding book! i should definitely read it – thanks for sharing your experience stazi!

  11. Rachel G

    April 18, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    I really, really hate hospitals and interacting with doctors and tests and examinations. Anything to do with the medical field makes me anxious and miserable…I have no idea why I ended up marrying a nurse, who lived each day with wound care/intubation/catheters/post-op care/sedation/skin grafts/basically every single thing that freaks me out is daily normal for him.

    If we were in America, I’m certain I would choose something like that if I could afford it financially and health-wise. Since we’re in Malaysia…there are no choices. Besides the fact that hospitals themselves seem like hospitals in America a couple decades ago (extremely industrial and basic…my friend gave birth in a room with 5+ other women in labor, because she go to the government hospital. Private hospitals do have private rooms, at least. I’m not complaining about that–infant and mother mortality rates have improved so much here since the not-too-distant days of giving birth in the villages with no hospitals around. But there are still parts of Malaysia where even getting to a hospital is impossible for people in remote villages–some of which are still only accessible by foot. So we’re all grateful for what IS available!)

    Also, the process of getting an American birth registered abroad and ensuring American citizenship is very involved and would be much, much more complicated if birth wasn’t in a hospital with a doctor present, so legal reasons are another factor for expatriate would-be-parents! Lots of people have kids overseas, but it’s interesting how that affects the process. My baby sister took her first flight at two weeks old because she had to be present at the embassy to get her birth registered and her passport application in.
    Rachel G recently posted…Wearing What You Love vs. What is Practical

    • chelsea

      April 19, 2016 at 7:45 pm

      i feel you about the anxiety with hospitals and the medical field, rachel and funny you ended up with a nurse 🙂

      i am indeed so grateful for choices (even though the infant and mother mortality rate here is still high). if you deliver in malaysia – i hope you find a doctor you are comfortable with and get a private room!

      wow never considered having to get a baby another citizenship – sounds like quite the process. thanks for sharing that!

  12. chelsea jacobs

    April 19, 2016 at 9:28 am

    I’m so happy that you found somewhere you feel comfortable with! I gave birth in a hospital that was SO patient friendly. I knew I had found “my place” when I did the hospital tour and at the end of it, the lady told me “this is about YOU. Want candles? We’ll get you candles. Want your partner to catch the baby? You got it.” It was so centered around my desires, it was wonderful.

    I also appreciate how respectful you were with this post. Most posts I see like this come from the opinion of “Doctors don’t care about you and they just want to rush you and they won’t listen to you and blah blah blah.” I’m married to someone who just finished medical school, so I’ve seen first hand how much WORK goes into becoming a doctor, and it makes me sad when people think they don’t care-it’s such a long road to get there, you have to care about your patients to make it through it! Sorry for the mini-rant, it just makes me happy when people blog about their views but are still respectful of other’s!
    chelsea jacobs recently posted…First Things First: How to Make a New City Feel Like Home.

    • chelsea

      April 19, 2016 at 7:50 pm

      thanks so much for your comment chelsea and i am glad you could tell that i truly do want each woman to make the right choice for her!

      very happy you found a hospital that was patient friendly and you had the birth you wanted! yay – that’s all we can ask for!

      also congrats to your husband for finishing med school – yay!

  13. Emma

    April 19, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    This is so cool! And I want to know all about how the moneys work… 😉
    Emma recently posted…If you want to talk about money, learn how to listen

    • chelsea

      April 19, 2016 at 7:47 pm

      it’s actually pretty great! they estimate (via their website) that if you have to go out of pocket, it’s $5-6k. thankfully they are working hard to get on with insurance companies!

      one of the only perks of having to insure ourselves is that we found an insurance that has the birth center in their network so yay (though that will still be minimum of $3k for us which doesn’t include the classes or after babe is born into this world)!

  14. Anna

    April 20, 2016 at 1:46 am

    I found that I spent a lot of time making a birth plan and was set on a birth centre birth. A week before giving birth, I was told I had strep B and would need antibiotics during labour so a birth centre birth this time would not be possible. The only thing I kept to from my birth plan was ‘no epidural’. Turns out, being upstairs in the maternity ward rather than in the birth centre downstairs may have saved my life. My baby was coming head first and was stuck so I needed forceps help to get her out. Then I lost 2 units of blood. Had I been that much further away from the help of doctors, neither of us may be here. My second baby, they strongly urged me to not go for a birth centre birth because of my blood loss first time round. My second labour was straightforward and peaceful (as peaceful as labour can be, come on!!) and having my baby on that same maternity ward as my first was the best thing that could have happened.

    So make a birth plan by all means but be prepared to be flexible (it’s okay to be disappointed if things don’t work out how you want!) and do what is best at the time for you both. Things can change real fast.

    • chelsea

      April 20, 2016 at 10:17 am

      glad you had the services you needed for your birth, anna! i think that’s why there is always one plan, another plan and then the mindset of being flexible! glad your second birth was more routine and everyone is happy and healthy. excellent advice for remaining flexible and i’m going to continue putting positive thoughts and energies out that i can continue on my plan 🙂

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  16. Jennifer Haston

    April 20, 2016 at 8:40 am

    hey lady! I love my doctor and it works for me, but it’s awesome to know there are other resources that can be used. I bet most people don’t know all the different routes. Thank you for being vulnerable and transparent and also respectful – There is no wrong way to have a baby! Mom being comfortable with it, likely lends itself to a lot more peace and serenity to what can happen in an already frenetic process. So many blogs out there talk about what you should and should not do. Thank you for honoring what Mom’s WANT to do as the highest denominator. YOU ROCK!

    • chelsea

      April 20, 2016 at 9:03 am

      yeah i really had no idea before i got pregnant about the different options! so happy you love your doctor, jennifer! that’s what’s important 🙂

      glad this piece came across as i was hoping it would – to empower women to make the right choice for her!