The Alternative to a Hospital Delivery

Prenatal care and childbirth plans could be one of the biggest decisions a newly pregnant mother will make. The Charleston area has a myriad of OB-GYN choices and many hospitals with outstanding birth units. But what if a woman wants something different than what is considered to be the normal labor experience?

More and more women have been considering birth centers over traditional hospitals when it comes to their overall childbirth experience. Why? Lesley Rathbun, the owner and director of Charleston Birth Place, which specializes in water birth, said she believes women are looking for facilities that are designed to support natural labor and delivery in a family-centere environment.

“Women can feel more in control of their birthing experience with us,” she said. “We focus on education, and we put the woman at the center of the health care team.”

Along with owning and directing Charleston Birth Place, Rathbun also is dual-certified as a family nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife.

“We excel at cost and care,” she said.

While hospitals are designed for acute care, birth centers lean toward a more normal birthing experience for healthy pregnancies, which means the costs will be lower and the care more personalized. Ideally, Rathbun said, they will see patients from the beginning of their pregnancy. She said at that point, mothers-to-be are teamed up with midwives who immediately begin assessing their nutrition, educating them on water births and monitoring the patient for any red flags that would keep them from having a healthy delivery.

“We do work closely with Trident Hospital, which is less than a mile away,” she said.

Rathbun said the rate of mothers having to deliver in the hospital due to complications is 10 percent and that less than 1 percent of cases require emergency transport.

“The midwives will stay with the patients who end up going to the hospital every step of the way,” she said.

Rathbun also mentioned that Trident Hospital has a special holistic suite that patients can utilize.

On average, mothers and babies leave for the comfort of their home just six hours after giving birth at Charleston Birth Place. Their relationship with the facility doesn’t end there, however.

“The mothers are fully educated from our extensive prenatal care,” Rathbun said. “We send a nurse to their home the day after for testing and evaluation.”

Breast-feeding is important to the team of midwives, so they follow up every day with the mother during the first week. After a week, the mother and baby return to Charleston Birth Place for training and education with their newborn and further help with lactation.

Breast-feeding is important to the team of midwives, so they follow up every day with the mother during the first week. After a week, the mother and baby return to Charleston Birth Place for training and education with their newborn and further help with lactation.

“We come full circle with health care for the mother and baby, from prenatal care to childbirth and then to helping the mother acclimate to caring for a newborn,” Rathbun said.

The cost definitely has had an impact on the number of women choosing birth centers over hospitals and traditional OB-GYN prenatal care.

“There is certainly a considerable cost savings with birth centers compared to the cost of the hospital,” Rathbun said, adding that Charleston Birth Place is in-network with all major health insurance plans.

“We want more women to be educated on their options when it comes to childbirth and to definitely consider us as an option for healthy pregnancies,” Rathbun said, pointing out that Charleston Birth Place offers orientation tours on Wednesday nights.

Charleston Birth Place is located in North Charleston. For more information, call 843-818-1123 or visit www.charlestonbirthplace.com.

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