New Birth Center in Nashville

On our last post, we shared about a new midwifery option offered by WOMEN OB. With an increasing demand for a more hands-off approach to birth, we are excited to share about a new birth center option coming by the end of October to St. Thomas Midtown.

What is the overall vision for this birth center?
The vision is to give low-risk patients access to a home-like environment for a natural, holistic birth within the walls of a highly specialized hospital. This allows women to have the atmosphere conducive for a natural labor, all while having the benefit of a very short transfer (down the hall) to labor and delivery or the OR, should the need arise. The goal is to have a patient-driven, family-centered birth center that will become a community standard. This is the first birth center of its kind within an inpatient facility in Middle Tennessee.

Doulas, Whitney and Vicki, get a sneak peek tour of the new birth center!

Which providers are part of the birth center committee? 
WOMEN OB put together a committee of obstetricians and midwives to make this new birth center a reality. This committee includes:

Dr. Sharon Norman, Dr. Donna Crowe, Kayleigh Holthaus, CNM – WOMEN OB

Dr. Nicole Heidemann, Dr. Reagen Saig   – Tennessee Women’s Care, PC

Dr. Allison Strnad – Heritage Medical Associates

Addie Graham, CNM/FNP – Vine Hill Midwives

Can any provider deliver babies at the birth center? 
Any care provider with practicing rights at St. Thomas Midtown will have rights to deliver at the birth center.

When is the birth center opening?
It is currently scheduled to open by the end of this October.

Where is the birth center located?
The birth center will be located inside of St. Thomas Midtown. Patients will use the same triage entrance as the rest of the L&D floor. However, once admitted into the birth center, double doors will “close off” the birth center from the rest of the hospital, giving patients more privacy.

How many rooms will there be?
The birth center will consist of three rooms in its own hallway, separated by double doors. The rooms have the best view of the downtown Nashville skyline in the whole hospital. 

How will the rooms be different than other hospital rooms?
So much attention to detail went into designing these rooms to make them as home-like as possible within a hospital setting.
Each room will be equipped with:
-Regular, double size beds – no hospital beds
-Walk-in showers
-Labor tubs for hydrotherapy
-Birth ladders
-Birth stools
-Birthing balls and peanut balls
(Don’t know how to use these tools in labor, a doula can help 😉 )

Who is the perfect candidate for the birth center?
The birth center is intended for low-risk mothers. Providers will be given a criteria that the patient must meet in order to qualify for delivery in the birth center. Babies must also be at term (37 weeks+) and healthy in order to deliver at the birth center. 

Because epidurals will not be administered in these rooms, the birth center is for women choosing a natural delivery. Admittance into the birth center rooms will be at active labor (around 5-6cm).

Will VBAC candidates be approved for the Birth Center?
Unfortunately, VBAC (Vaginal birth after Cesarean) will not be permitted in the birth center. 

Will IV Fluids be required?
Saline locks will be recommended but no routine IV fluids will be given. 

What about fetal monitoring? 
The birth center will utilize intermittent monitoring. Portable monitors will be available, as well as scarves to cover up monitors. Another feature of the birth center includes a 1:1 nurse to patient ratio.

Will there be pain medication options?
Nitrous oxide and a short list of IV pain medications will be available.

What if I decide I want an epidural?
Epidurals will not be administered in the birth center rooms. These rooms are intended for women desiring a natural birth. However, if a mother requests an epidural, she will transfer to a standard L&D room, if a room is available. No need to be re-admitted in triage.

What if I end up needing a C-section? 
Similar to an epidural, the birth center is for women planning a natural, vaginal birth. If a C-section becomes necessary, the mother will go down the hall to the OR.

Can I eat or drink during labor?
Yes, a small fridge will be provided for outside food. Although, since women are not being admitted until active labor, most are not going to be wanting to eat very much at that point. But food and drink will be allowed. 

What happens after delivery?
The birth center will provide 4 hours of uninterrupted mother-baby bonding time. After the four hours, the mother will be moved to a standard postpartum room for 8-12 hours. Discharge time will vary depending on the mother’s delivery, desire to leave, and written approval from the pediatrician (made in advance).

What other requirements will there be to birth at the birth center?
Patients wanting to use the birth center will be required to take a mandatory class at St. Thomas by 36 weeks. This does NOT replace a regular childbirth class. Dr. Norman recommends all couples take a natural birthing class

Why do I have to get written approval from our pediatrician?
Typically after a natural, vaginal delivery with no complications, a mother is cleared for discharge within a few hours. However, discharge for babies is dependent on the pediatrician. The state requires screening on a newborn at 24 hours for conditions like congenital heart defects. If the mother would like to go home within a few hours of delivery with her baby, she needs written permission from her pediatrician. If the mother would rather stay the night in a standard postpartum room, she can choose to do so as well.

It is amazing to see the changes and increase of options for pregnant women in Nashville. We can’t wait to assist our client’s at this new birth center!

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