Congratulations! You’re pregnant. Now that you’ve learned the exciting news, it’s time to think about your birthing preferences, including where and how you plan to have your baby.
For example, do you prefer a natural birth, a water birth or a cesarean section, also known as a C-section? Or maybe you’ve had a C-section before, and are now considering a slightly higher-risk natural birth, known as VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section.) Or perhaps you’re interested in LDRP (Labor, Delivery, Recovery and Post-Partum) care rooms, which means you don’t have to change rooms while staying at the hospital.
With so many questions about birth – and because no two birthing centers are exactly alike – it’s important for mothers-to-be to know how the hospitals in their area differ.
The following guide is designed to point out what’s available at different southern and mid-coast Maine hospitals:
Mid Coast Hospital
123 Medical Center Drive, Brunswick, 373-6500
Mid Coast Hospital’s Maternity Care Center is a family-centered birthing facility that offers 11 private LDRP (labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum) rooms, water births, overnight accommodations for a supportive family member or friend, free Wi-Fi, and a 24-hour hotline to get questions answered.
“We can do water births in any of our rooms,” said the maternity unit coordinator, Kate Boron. “We have 24/7 certified midwife coverage. It’s another provider option as opposed to just an obstetrician. We also offer several different versions of pre-natal education. We offer a month-long series – Birthing with Confidence – and a Saturday class (on Birthing with Confidence).”
Birthing with Confidence is a four-week series on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. According to the hospital’s website, the series “focuses on a natural approach to childbirth with an emphasis on relaxation, coping techniques, breathing techniques, and various laboring positions.”
The series discusses options for medication and includes a tour of the maternity unit and a potluck dinner. The Saturday classes focus on the anatomy of the developing pregnancy, breathing and coping techniques, the phases of labor, medical interventions, cesarean delivery, a tour of the maternity unit and a boxed lunch. Fees for the classes are $65 and more information can be found on the website at www.midcoasthealth.com.
Boron said the Midwifery at Mid Coast Hospital also offers a CenteringPregnancy program, which is a group model for prenatal care that integrates basic prenatal health assessment and education with social support. Monthly breastfeeding and lactation classes are also offered at the hospital for pregnant women.
Southern Maine Health Care
1 Medical Center Drive, Biddeford,
The Birthing Suite at Southern Maine Health Care features private rooms in a homelike atmosphere and several amenities and services.
Decorated in cottage style, the Birthing Suite is designed to help expectant mothers relax and focus during labor, with soothing colors, lighting and artwork. Each room offers a spacious closet, large bathroom, a private refrigerator, a double bed or pull-out couch, a flat-screen TV and more.
While Southern Maine Health Care does not offer water births, it specializes in couplet care, where a single nurse treats and looks after a mother and her child – and VBACs, or vaginal birth after cesarean section – and offers a variety of educational programs and counseling.
“It’s for those in need of resources, or (those who have) depression, or if this isn’t the best time to have a baby, or they have family issues and need support,” said Rebecca Sevigny, childbirth educator for the unit.
The Birthing Suite also includes a level II neonatal intensive care unit, lactation consultants, 24-hour pain management, and other comfort measures, such as whirlpools.
Classes at Southern Maine Health Care include childbirth education, prenatal breastfeeding facilitated by a certified lactation consultant, infant safety and infant/toddler CPR, a discharge class discussing postpartum care for the new mom and basic newborn care, and more.
10 Hospital Drive, Bridgton, 647-6000
Recognized as a Baby-Friendly birthing facility in 2012, Bridgton Hospital is a small, critical access health-care facility that offers two private birthing suites with sleeping accommodations for a spouse or a partner, and other amenities including a microwave, a refrigerator, a couch and a Jacuzzi bath.
“I call it a one-stop shop because we do everything right there in the room,” said Lois Hardy, registered nurse and clinical coordinator of the Special Delivery Family Birthing Unit. “We provide a special dinner, with a dessert and salad and some sparkling cider, and we give out gift bags.”
Bridgton Hospital offers a wide range of classes, including one on childbirth education, to give expectant mothers and their families the opportunity to learn more about the birthing process. Breastfeeding classes led by a certified lactation consultant, as well as classes for grandparents and siblings-to-be are also available, according to Hardy.
Hardy said the hospital does not conduct VBACs or water births, but it does have 24-hour C-section capabilities.
“Because we are a small hospital, you get individualized care,” Hardy said. “We don’t have thousands of deliveries every year, so it gives us the ability to be at the bedside with a patient and their family during the labor process and participate in the birthing process.”
According to its website, Bridgton Hospital’s birthing center considers the safety and security of its patients to be a top priority. The hospital boasts a state-of-the-art Hugs security system that monitors your newborn 24/7 to ensure its safety. The center is also a locked unit with a secure check-in and checkout system.
15 Hospital Drive, York
363-4321 or 877-363-4321
York Hospital is one of few in southern Maine that features water birthing, a process that involves partially submerging the mother in a bathtub while she is giving birth, and which is praised for its stress-easing components.
“It provides comfort for a mom who is looking for a more natural childbirth experience,” said Jody Merrill, lead of marketing, at the hospital. “We have a full team of midwives on staff who are able to provide a very customized birthing experience for the patient.
“We also have nitrous oxide available for moms. We are one of the only (hospitals) in the area that offers it. It’s a widely used method of pain relief in Europe and Australia,” said Merrill. “There are only a few hospitals in the U.S. that have adopted this practice. It’s a non-invasive method of pain relief. It’s a lower dose than what you might see at a dental office.”
York Hospital features large private birthing rooms, and specializes in labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum care. It also offers a range of free prenatal and education classes for moms-to-be in nutrition and exercise, childbirth preparation, parenting and fetal development, taught by Jodi Demugh, a certified nurse midwife.
“It’s a baby-friendly site for breastfeeding moms and we also have skilled lactation consultants dedicated to helping every mom’s breastfeeding needs,” Morrill said. “We also have hypnotherapy, Reiki, massage and craniosacral therapy to ease stress and anxiety throughout labor or during pregnancy.”
175 Fore River Parkway, Portland,
In October 1984, the Birthplace at Mercy opened the first LDRP (labor, delivery, recovery, and post-partum) care room in Maine, which keeps mothers in the same private room from the moment they arrive until they take their baby home.
As one of two major hospitals in Portland, Mercy has the capability of conducting a range of births, from water births, to VBACs, to C-sections, in one of two cesarean section suites, and features experienced certified nurses with providers who include certified nurse midwives, obstetricians, and family practice doctors. It also does epidurals and has a doctor, Brian Beck, who performs osteopathic manipulation on infants.
“He does craniosacral work with the babies and the mother,” Linda Higgins, childbirth education coordinator, said. “We also have lactation consultants here to see our moms who are having any breastfeeding challenges.”
According to its website, Mercy also offers spacious, private rooms with a Jacuzzi and day bed in each room for the birth or support partner, free Wi-Fi, and “At Your Request” room service.
A variety of childbirth education classes, including a one-day or four-week Birth Journey Preparation class, infant massage, and a Safe Starts CPR class, are also available. More information on each class and fees can be found online at http://mercyhospital.org/specialty-practices/maternity-care/the-birthplace/.
“Mercy’s classes are competitively priced. The birthing class is $100 per couple, and there is a financial scholarship available. Mothers with MaineCare can take the class for $20 per couple,” said Higgins. “We have six different classes.”
A Breast Connection class teaches expectant mothers about breastfeeding basics. Mercy also has a popular weekly breastfeeding support group that meets every Tuesday at 10 a.m.
“We average about 80 mothers a month that come to the group,” said Higgins. “Every birth is very unique and special. Our classes are for parents seeking information about coping skills, relaxation tips, comfort options, hydrotherapy, massage and gravity-producing positions, (which) will be useful along your birth journey.”
Maine Medical Center
22 Bramhall St., Portland, 662-0111
Maine Medical Center’s Family Birth Center offers expectant mothers an array of classes, including a One Day Express Childbirth Class and a four-week Childbirth Education series.
“These classes help prepare women for their upcoming birthing experience by teaching them about the stages of labor, comfort measures, breathing exercises, and helpful positions of laboring,” said Kara Kaikini, childbirth education coordinator at MMC. “The class reviews potential medications and interventions, includes a tour of the Family Birth Center, and emphasizes the importance of labor support, giving partners tools throughout the class, too.”
The Family Birth Center at MMC also offers parenting preparation classes such as Breastfeeding Basics, Baby Basics, Family & Friends CPR, Prenatal Yoga, Expecting Multiples, and classes to help prepare the rest of the family, like Daddy Boot Camp.
While MMC does not conduct water births, it does perform VBACs.
“All obstetric practices that deliver at MMC support women who want VBACs,” said Kaikini. “This is a topic that is best discussed with the expectant mother’s OB provider as it may or may not be appropriate for every mother who has had a previous cesarean birth.”
The Family Birth Center offers large, comfortable rooms and features labor tubs in every birthing room.
The hospital highly encourages “the use of the water as a way for women to be more comfortable during their labor,” said Kaikini.
It also has a Level III NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) steps away from the labor and delivery unit and offers many comfort measures for moms-to-be during their labor, including a pain medication called Nubain.
“Nubain is a narcotic medication often given through an IV that can help relieve some of the sensations of labor,” Kaikini said.
“We also hope that moms have talked with their doctor and partner about their birth preferences,” she said, such as “dim lighting, battery operated candles, calming or energizing music, massage oils, or having the support of a doula. We have ice packs, DVD/CD players, USB connections for music, birth balls, squat bars, and amazing labor and delivery nurses who will support and guide women throughout their experience.”
Decorated in cottage style, the Birthing Suite at Southern Health Care in Biddeford is designed to help expectant mothers relax and focus during labor, with soothing colors, lighting, and artwork. Each room offers a spacious closet, large bathroom, a private refrigerator, a double bed or pull-out couch, a flat-screen TV, and more. Courtesy photosDr. Brian Youth of the Maine Medical Center Family Birth Center listens to the heartbeat of a newborn at the facility in Portland in 2009.