My students will often hear me say that where you give birth and who your birth team is will greatly impact how your birth goes! But for moms who live in our area, with just one health department, one OB office and one hospital, it can feel like you don't have any choice in the matter at all! However, there are actually several options you do have to help you achieve the natural birth you are wanting.
What can a mother do?
#1 Hire a Doula!
By hiring a doula, you will have an extra support person who is looking out for you. A doula can help you labor at home longer than you may have otherwise, and can watch over you and help you advocate for yourself so that you hear all the options available to you, actual risks and benefits of interventions, and alternatives to interventions. A doula can also help increase your comfort during labor in a variety of ways, no matter where you choose to give birth.
#2 Take Natural Childbirth-specific Classes!
If you want to prepare for a natural birth, one of the best ways is to take natural childbirth classes! Bradley Method® classes or Hypnobirthing/Hypnobabies classes can help you know your rights in childbirth, stay low risk and have a better idea of the more ideal time to head to the hospital. All of these can help you have a more positive experience, wherever you choose to give birth.
#3 Have a Homebirth!
Do you want a completely intervention-free birth in the comfort of you own home? Are you looking for a caregiver who has time for you? Want to VBAC but you are told by your doctor you can't? Are you over 35 and feel like you are being treated like an elderly patient? Maybe a homebirth is right for you! There are many certified professional homebirth midwives in North Carolina and the Upstate South Carolina who may assist you in a homebirth in Shelby. Homebirth is legal in all 50 states, however the laws in North Carolina are somewhat hostile to CPMs (Certified Professional Midwives, the ones who attend homebirths in NC). So, the secret to having a homebirth in our area is in finding a midwife! Contact Karen if you are having trouble finding a homebirth midwife in our area. She has connections!
#4 Go to a Free-Standing Birthing Center in a nearby city!
A couple of my favorites are Labors of Love in Spartanburg and Natural Beginnings in Statesville. These are about 45 minutes to an hour from us, which for most mothers gives plenty of time to arrive at your birth place. If the idea of traveling that far in labor makes you feel nervous, consider going to a nearby hotel when early labor sets in. Also, attending Bradley Method® classes or hiring a doula can help you have a better idea of when to head out to your birthplace in most situations. Most birthing centers will accept insurance and Natural Beginnings will even accept Medicaid!
#5 Go to different practice in a nearby city!
There are midwife groups who attend hospital births near us including: Davis Memorial in Statesville (with the midwives at Natural Beginnings), Novant Presbyterian Main with Providence OB Midwives, and Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Matthews with Tina Hayes and her midwife group. Having the continuity of care and the opportunity to build relationships with your midwives throughout your pregnancy can help you to feel safe and secure when you go to the hospital to give birth. If you would like to have that kind of care, seeing a midwife group could be the right option for you.
If, after exploring your options, you decide to give birth at CHS-Cleveland, here in Shelby, know that the staff is often willing to help you achieve your natural childbirth goals. Have ongoing, open communication with your caregivers. If there is something that is important to you-tell them that! Many times you can sign a waiver if you choose not to accept the routine care offered. Often times mothers are able to labor in the bathtub or shower, use a labor ball, walk the halls and more to help their labors progress naturally. If you do not want interventions and or pain medications during childbirth, let you caregiver know that. And have someone with you who can help advocate for you when you are in hard active labor and use comfort measures to help you be as comfortable as possible during your labor and birth.
What about you? Were you able to have a positive birth experience in the Shelby, NC area? If you have other places or caregivers you recommend, please leave them in the comments!
*edited and photo updated 5.8.2020
Karen Gartner is a birth doula in North Carolina with over 16 years of experience helping families achieve their goals for labor, birth and beyond. She also has 20+ years of experience helping mothers with breastfeeding. As a doula and mother of 4 growing children, she has a lot of wisdom to share with new mothers and clients.