Womens Health Reclaim the power of birth

Midwife Seattle

· Maternity Care ·

Hospital Birth

Hospital BirthBirth in a hospital may be a good option for you if

  • You have a medical or pregnancy condition that makes you higher risk (e.g., premature delivery or hypertension)
  • You have had a cesarean
  • You desire the option of pain medication during labor
  • You feel safer in a hospital
  • You have minimal social support

At Midwife Seattle, we are pleased to offer hospital birth at the Family Beginnings unit of Group Health Cooperative in Seattle. This unit is highly supportive of the midwifery model of care, and boasts the lowest cesarean rate in the greater Seattle area. Policies support women’s desires to eat and drink in labor, labor in water, have support people present and have freedom in choice of birth position. Labor nurses are supportive of both medicated and nonmedicated labor. The highly-skilled obstetricians are respectful of your wishes and consider your voice to be an integral part of decision-making around labor and birth. Medical support includes an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN), pediatrician, and anesthesiologist at the facility 24 hours a day. There is also a Special Care Nursery that cares for higher-risk newborns.

With a planned hospital birth, early labor is spent at home, then you will go to the hospital when labor becomes more active. At the hospital, a nurse works one-on-one with you in labor. She provides much of the hands-on care, including listening to your baby’s heartbeat. Your midwife is in the room with you frequently. Her role is primarily to develop and oversee a plan of care, but she also provides encouragement and offers expertise in coping with labor.

When you are admitted to the hospital, your baby is monitored with electronic fetal monitors (belts on your belly) for approximately 30 minutes. After this time, if the baby’s heart rate pattern is strong, the belts are removed and the baby’s heart rate is assessed at regular intervals using a Doppler. A blood sample is drawn and a brief health interview and physical exam are performed. Additional procedures such as IV placement or continuous monitoring of your baby are not routine. They are used only when warranted by the management plan. If your plan requires continuous monitoring, this may be done with a unit that allows freedom of movement and submersion in water.

When you are in the hospital, you will have access to all the technology available there. You may use IV medications or an epidural for labor. You may also plan an unmedicated birth in the hospital, and use many natural means for pain management, including water immersion, massage, relaxation techniques, position changes, acupuncture, and hot/cold packs. (At this time, Group Health does not offer waterbirth). When your baby arrives, skin-to-skin contact is encouraged and disruptions are kept minimal. Breastfeeding is strongly supported. Your midwife stays with you for one to two hours after birth. She then leaves, and the nurses provide support for breastfeeding, physical assistance and education.

At Group Health, labor and birth occurs in the same room. After the recovery period, you will likely be moved to another floor for ongoing postpartum care in a private setting. A Group Health pediatrician performs a newborn exam and assumes medical care for your baby while in the hospital.


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