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Labor of Love

Whether you’re already pregnant or working on it, you’ll want to give considerable thought and research to where you’ll give birth.  This choice will probably go hand-in-hand with interviewing and selecting a prenatal and birth provider. Your choices for birth setting include a hospital, a birthing center or your home. In any of these environments, mothers-to-be can and should be active participants in decisions about procedures, preferences and emergency contingencies.


  • Most women feel familiar with birthing in a hospital. However, real hospital births cover a wide spectrum, from completely natural, unmedicated, self-directed births to unplanned surgical births. Because there are many hospitals to choose from in the greater Tampa Bay area, how do you choose the one that is right for you? Ask:
  • What is your c-section rate?
  • What is the hospital’s view on moving around, eating, drinking during labor?
  • What tools and training do the labor and delivery staff have for nonmedical comfort or pain treatment measures?
  • Which positions can I give birth in?
  • Who can I have with me during labor and delivery?
  • Which routine medical procedures can I elect to not participate in, for myself or newborn?

“With my first pregnancy, I wanted to give birth at a birth center. After I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes that was no longer possible. I ended up being induced and having an epidural with that birth, which was the opposite of what I had envisioned,” shares Jessica Rock of Seminole.

“With my second baby, I was more determined to have a natural birth despite being diagnosed with gestation diabetes again. I educated myself on the potential complications and had to strongly advocate for myself. In the end I was able to achieve an unmedicated water birth at Morton Plant Hospital. I’m much happier with my second birth. I tend to favor a more natural approach to my healthcare but there are times when you have to find the balance between natural and medical.”

Birth Center
These are licensed by the state and many conform to quality standards defined by organizations like the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC.) The AABC defines a birth center as a homelike setting where care providers, usually midwives, provide family-centered care to healthy pregnant women.

“Pregnancy and childbirth are healthy, normal life events for most women and babies. In birth centers, midwives and staff hold to the ‘wellness’ model of birth, which means that they provide continuous, supportive care and interventions are used only when medically necessary,” the AABC states.
In birth centers, the woman’s right to be the decision-maker is fully respected. For example, women are encouraged to eat if they are hungry, move about, spend time in a tub, and push in whatever positions they find most comfortable. Birth centers recognize that the mother knows what her body needs to give birth. The midwives and staff attend to her needs, while diligently watching for signs that are outside the realm of wellness.”
Cherie Smith, of Indian Rocks Beach, chose to have her baby at Labor of Love Birth Center in Dunedin. “I wanted to give birth at a birth center because I wanted to labor naturally without interventions. I was a first time mother so laboring at the birth center that I was familiar with comforted me and I felt secure. I am very happy I chose to labor at a birth center. I had the freedom I wanted in my labor even though I was unable to have a home birth.”

While most women are good candidates to give birth in a birth center, they typically have the following in common:

  • Healthy, low risk pregnancies
  • A desire to labor and birth naturally
  • A home setting that isn’t conducive to birth (roommates, cramped spaces, too far from midwife)


In 1900, almost all American births occurred outside of a hospital.  By 1969, that number was down to one percent.  The latest figures put out-of-hospital births at 1.36 percent. Birthing at home isn’t the ideal spot for every mama, but certainly is an option.

Home births are attended by midwives. Many midwives choose their patients’ homes as their “place of work” because it is so well-suited to their own philosophies regarding the care of pregnant women. The midwifery model of care, as described by Our Bodies, Our Selves Health Resource Center focuses on the normalcy of pregnancy, and its potential for health.

Birth is viewed as a natural process that has profound meaning to many people and should be treated as normal until there is evidence of a problem. The possibility of complications is not allowed to preempt all other values associated with the woman’s experience of bearing and giving birth to a child. Midwives are experts in protecting, supporting, and enhancing the normal physiology of labor, delivery and breast-feeding.

For my own second pregnancy, I chose to give birth at home with the assistance of an experienced midwife. I delivered my first daughter in a birth center and, while successful, I wanted even less stress the second time around. I knew that I would be most comfortable and feel the most supported and relaxed in my home! My second daughter was born in a birthing pool in our living room and within the hour we were nursing in my own bed. Experiencing childbirth at home may be a great fit for you if you:

  • Want to avoid the unnecessary medical interventions that are common in hospital births
  • Had a negative hospital experience
  • Want more control
  • Prefer a comfortable, familiar environment
  • Trust in the birth process and your own body

Wherever you choose to give birth, it should be just that  your choice. Tour every facility you’re seriously considering. (Take the official tour and do an unofficial pop in to observe the staff and mothers in action.) Understanding all of your options is a critical step to achieving the birth you desire. Be sure to have a back-up plan in case something changes. Births have a funny way of spontaneously going in a different direction!

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