Best Start Birth Center is Helping Moms Through Natural Childbirth in San Diego
“Remember this, for it is as true and true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.” – Ina May Gaskin, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
Childbirth – something as women we have so many mixed feelings about as we grow up from being little girls. Personally it was a very real and powerful fear of mine for most of my life. This was mostly fueled by the way birth is displayed in the media. A major motion picture with a female actress in excruciating pain, red faced & screaming at her husband or at the doctor “Get IT out of me” as she’s wired up to beeping machines, an IV in her arm and a room full of medical staff and bright lights “ushering” this new human life into the world… YIKES! why not just skip the drama and adopt? That was my theory… OR just skip the whole kids bit entirely and live like a free bird 🙂
But then I fell in love at 18… got married to this delicious man at 20 & very much yearned for a family of our own. At 25 I got pregnant with our first baby, the emotions that came along with the results of that stick I peed on one morning were exhilaration & awe. I stood in front of the mirror naked, happy tears streaming down my face and wondered “how in the world is there a tiny baby inside there.. I still have abs!” haha Of course my body grew to accomodate my daughter’s budding body and after 38 weeks and 2 days of pregnancy I gave birth to her in a Canadian hospital with the doctor on call (mine was out of town..) It was a natural childbirth and drug free on a hospital bed with my loving husband on one side of me and my doula on the other. They were my strength and anchors as I endured the most physically taxing experience of my life.
I chose to give birth naturally back then because once I was pregnant I had to face my fear.. this baby is going to come out one way or another. I decided to research birth for myself and found some books on “natural childbirth.” The more I read about medicated births… the more I thought it was actually the most risky for both baby and I. And although an epidural is 99% the norm in North America.. it was really only 1 day out of my life. And if it was best for baby and I – why not just tough it out. Most people I told back then I was going to go natural would laugh in my face and say “yea, ok – good luck with that!” Which only motivated me more to prove to them it was entirely possible. After all.. how many years have babies been being born? And how many years were they being born in hospitals with modern interventions?… exactly.
Fast forward 4 years and my little family was growing yet again, pregnant with my second daughter, I knew I wanted a natural birth in San Diego… but this time out of the hospital. I initially had my first prenatal visits with a Midwife who offers only home births and although I loved her I ended up transferring my care to Best Start Birth Center
. Best Start is not a hospital – it’s a free standing birth center with midwives instead of doctors who care for the pregnant women & deliver their babies. You can only deliver at a birth center if you have a low risk pregnancy.. if any risks or complications arise during pregnancy or labor you are pre-registered and immediately transferred to a nearby hospital. Safety is always first!
Best Start was founded in 1989 with a goal of empowering mothers in their pregnancy and birth experiences. It is made up of a team of Certified Nurse Midwives who specialize in natural births, water births, family births & pre / post natal care. I went for a free tour and immediately loved the energy and environment. It’s located at 3343 4th Avenue San Diego, CA 92103 in Hillcrest & is an old home which was renovated into this beautiful birth center. There are a few exam rooms for pre-natal care, and 3 birthing rooms which have a real bed (not hospital bed but like sheets, bed frame, pillows etc) as well as a bathroom attached with a birthing tub. There is also a larger room for birthing classes & group sessions offered by Best Start.
With each pre-natal visit you rotate seeing different midwives so that by the time you go into labor you have met and become familiar with each. Every day there is a midwife on call and when you go into labor you dial in and let them know. A birth center is different than a hospital in that they don’t want you to come in too early in labor but encourage you to stay home and only arrive at the center when you’re in active labor. There are no epidurals or pain medications offered because there are no anesthesiologists on staff… plus the overall philosophy is to encourage and empower mommies to birth naturally. However in case of emergencies they do have certain medications & oxygen etc in house – yet they are conveniently & discreetly tucked away in dresser drawers in each birth room so you feel more “at home” than in a sterile medical facility.
My water began leaking the morning of my due date & I knew it was time. I dialed in the midwife on call, Erina & she asked me to come in later in the afternoon for an exam. I wasn’t yet having contractions so she wanted to make sure everything was ok with baby and I. The exam went well & baby passed the stress test (they listened to her heart for 40 minutes to make sure she was ok). Near midnight I began having contractions and this being my second baby things progressed pretty quickly. We headed into the birth center around 3:30am and because I was only 2 cm dilated the midwife encouraged my husband and I to walk around the block for an hour or so to help labor progress. We walked for 2 hours (with lots of pee breaks!) and my contractions became more and more intense and closer together… I knew I was getting close to holding my baby girl in my arms.
At 5:30am Erina my midwife checked me again and said i was progressing nicely and let us head into the birthing room of our choice. She began to fill the tub with warm water, put some soothing essential oil in a defuser & offered to dial me a volunteer doula. (something awesome the birth center does is offer a volunteer doula program & also low-cost doulas as well). My husband helped me undress and get into the tub… as I lowered myself into the water my muscles relaxed and I was overcome with gratitude to be experiencing the calming energy of this birthing experience. At 7am my darling girl was born and placed immediately into my arms. They waited until the chord was done pulsating before letting my husband cut it. Afterwards they helped me out of the bath and into the tub where they insisted we cuddle and bond with the baby for the next 2 hours before they weigh & measure her. This is entirely different than in a hospital where they immediately cut the chord (which is still transferring up to 30% of the baby’s blood into their body) and then whisk them off for measuring, weight etc BEFORE mama gets to hold new baby. A nurse came in to check baby and I’s temperature & heart rate every so often but gave us privacy as a family in these first intimate hours of our new child’s life.
After 4 hours and a brief newborn exam we were free to head home. I couldn’t believe it – natural childbirth in San Diego was amazing! We were home by lunch! It was nice to have a place to go outside of the house when things got intense and I knew it was “show time.” But it was even more nice to be in a loving and empowering space that was designed for birthing specifically and be abel to go home after 4-6 hours after our precious new family member was born.
We headed back to the birth center after 48 hours for baby’s first check up & it was so lovely to see the midwives again we brought them a big bouquet of flowers and a card. It is such a major part of your life birthing your children and we appreciate their love and dedication so very much. I would recommend Best Start Birth Center
to any and all mommies to be for natural childbirth in San Diego. They have a free tour which you can be a part of to view the facility and ask any and all questions about your pregnancy care as well as labor & delivery there.
Thank you to Erina & Shari who are the current full time midwives and who helped us so much during this amazing time in our lives as a family.
Would you ever consider natural child birth? I’d love to hear your thoughts!