Today I took a tour of our hospital's new maternity ward. They're calling it a “Birthing Center”, which is a very common occurrence around the country. The renovations are great, but overall they are not offering many more options than when I gave birth there years ago.
The fact is, a hospital gives limitations to your birthing experience, no matter what they call it. All around the country, hospitals are trying to revamp the way their maternity wards are perceived, making them look and feel more like a birth center. Make no mistake, they are nothing like the birth centers staffed by midwives.
I have a problem with hospitals trying to present an image of being something that they are not, and here's why. Fancy new equipment, birthing balls, and bath tubs; What importance is all of this equipment if you barely get to use it? Unless you have a midwife who will be present for your labor or a Doula to encourage you to get up between fetal monitoring, the reality is that you might not get to use these extras very much.
Sure, if you're a strong woman who can stay calm and put your foot down while still trying to deal with contractions, it could work. I know from experience that it's pretty unlikely, because most women just can't fight a battle during labor.
Maternity ward nurses would love take the time to help women deal with labor, but they can't. Years ago they used to do the work that a Doula would do today, but it doesn't work that way anymore. Nurses now have to make up for the work that the doctor would be doing if he were present.
Not only that, but they're required to hook women up to the machines more often so that the doctor can look at the sheets of paper when he gets there. That's why the battle ensues when a woman doesn't want to be monitored. The nurses are the ones that pay for it when a woman is “uncooperative”.
If you want to be hooked up and monitored or plan on getting an epidural, then you will not mind it as much. But if you're looking for a natural birth experience, this is the reality.
If you want to be able to get up and move during labor, work through your contractions, use the birth ball, or even the tub, go with a midwife, hire a Doula, or give birth somewhere else.