Augusta-area moms-to-be seek alternatives to hospital births

Mothers seek alternatives to hospital births

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When Alexis Beard gives birth to her firstborn next month, she doesn’t plan to do so at a hospital.

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Courtney Gustin, a certified nurse-midwife at Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics, attends to patient Jamie Wynn while her newborn son, Leland, and the baby's father, Bruce Warblow, sleep. "It's a privilege to take care of people during that time in their lives," said Gustin, who worked with Wynn during her pregnancy. Wynn delivered by cesarean section Dec. 4.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Courtney Gustin, a certified nurse-midwife at Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics, attends to patient Jamie Wynn while her newborn son, Leland, and the baby's father, Bruce Warblow, sleep. "It's a privilege to take care of people during that time in their lives," said Gustin, who worked with Wynn during her pregnancy. Wynn delivered by cesarean section Dec. 4.

“Birth is not a medical experience,” said Beard, an Evans resident, who will give birth at the Covenant Birth Center in Columbia with only her husband and her midwife at her side.

She sees birth as a natural process that should be allowed to take its own course with minimal medical interventions. If complications should occur, the birth center is located near a hospital.

“I want to have a water birth. One of the most important things to me is the initial skin to skin contact after birth. It will help form a strong bond and trust,” Beard said.

She is among a growing number of women nationally who are using midwives and birthing centers, and in some cases deciding to have their children at home.

According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the number of certified nurse-midwives attending births has risen nearly every year since 1989, the first year that those statistics were made available.

Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Nation­al Centers for Health Stat­istics reports that after a 14-year decline, the number of home births in the U.S. increased 29 percent from 2004 to 2009.

The CDC study, published in January, showed the states with the most home births were in the Northwest, with the South­east having the fewest home births.

Courtney Gustin is the only certified nurse-midwife at Med­ical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics, and has been there for about two years.

She does not perform in-home services or attend home births.

“When I was pregnant with my first child, I had a midwife, and I thought it would be the perfect job,” said Gustin, a former Signal Corps officer, who was in the Army during her first pregnancy.

The mother of four, Gustin used a midwife during each pregnancy and birth. Two of her children were born in a hospital, and two were born at home.

To become a certified nurse-midwife, Gustin completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing and passed a national board certification.

Because of her own experience, Gustin said she feels she can better relate to her patients. She sees about 70 to 80 patients a week.

Women who use midwives typically have low-risk pregnancies. Should complications arise and intervention such as a cesarean section is required the patient will see a physician.

Jamie Wynn had seen Gustin throughout her pregnancy. Her birth experience wasn’t what she’d planned, she said.

An ultrasound revealed her baby, Leland, weighed more than 10 pounds more than a week before his Dec. 11 due date. Concerns about his size – particularly the width of his shoulders – necessitated a cesarean delivery for Wynn.

Leland was born Dec. 4 weighing 10 pounds, 14 ounces.

Andrea McPherson is another area mom whose first birth didn’t go as she had intended.

“I discussed having natural childbirth with my doctor” during her first pregnancy, she said. “But there were a cascade of interventions. The minute they break your water they put you on a clock.”

With her second child, she used a midwife, but she gave birth in a hospital.

“The third time I decided to have a home birth,” said Mc­Pherson, whose children are 8, 5 and 1.

According to the CDC’s statistics, home births are most common among white, non-Hispanic women. One in 90 births to this population was a home birth in 2009.

Statistics show home birth is most common among women with other children.

Gustin said she finds women who use midwives have done their homework.

“They’ve done a lot of research and have a lot of information to support them,” she said.

Beard said she began her research long before she became pregnant and was influenced in her decision by her mother.

“My mother had natural childbirth and breast fed me for two and a half years,” she said.

Beard said she believes she is doing the right thing for her and her baby.

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Trust Birth Augusta
Trust Birth Augusta 12/17/12 - 09:57 pm

This article is flat and devoid of true info that Augusta sorely needs & just highlights that large babies NEED C/S' & hospitals. The reporter never mentions anything I said in our interview and barely what the two mamas I had come to my home also to be interviewed. This is irresponsible reporting imho. No mention of area support groups/other midwives like at Covenant Birth Center where there are 2 CPMs (Certified Professional Midwives) as well as the local CPMs that attend homebirths here in Augusta area. I would have expected at least a footer with groups listed like: Augusta Birth Network/CSRA, The CSRA Birthing Connections, Trust Birth Augusta/CSRA, La Leche League of Augusta, GA, ICAN Of CSRA Georgia which are all free and available to anyone in our area. And while we are on topic....why don't we have a BIRTH CENTER here in our city? Many people travel to ATL & COLUMBIA to those birth centers, yet we don't even have that option here. There are also options to hospital birthing classes as well and most that info can be found via those groups listed above. PLEASE KNOW YOUR OPTIONS before you choose where & how you are giving birth!!!
Just go to for The BABE DIRECTORY listing many more resources as well as the midwife listed in this article:)

frickchen 12/17/12 - 03:59 pm
It seems like the title of

It seems like the title of the article should be "more women choose midwives." I can only hope that the article was edited down, because this topic deserves much more care and thought than it was given. An article on birth that doesn't mention doulas? Wow.

Another glaring omission are the resources available to pregnant moms. Augusta has Trust Birth meetings and a chapter of Birth Network called CSRA Birthing Connections

I hope that families can find their way to these groups to learn more about local birth options since this article doesn't mention them.

Trust Birth Augusta
Trust Birth Augusta 12/18/12 - 06:28 pm
WE Mentioned Doulas & Many Things Not Included!

During our interview we pointed out that C-Section rates were proven to be reduced greatly by having a doula help during labor and that water births also reduce time you are in labor.
Also noted were that women of color have a much higher C-Section rate which in Miami-Dad County has now hit the 50% mark & that Augusta is trailing behind that by around 40% (perhaps maybe higher since strangely these statistics are not released to the public until 2 years later.)
We need to ask ourselves why we lining up at hospitals that we know will treat birth as a medical event, when it is not.

We are like travelers who have lost our way & like travelers we need to go back to the point where we took a wrong turn & that was when we decided to move birth into the hospital & have all women be "delivered" by OBs. Cascades of interventions begin once a laboring woman leaves her home and has led to our current obscenely high rate of C-sections & birth trauma in the US.

Women don't need to be "delivered"...we know just what to do to BIRTH our babies given some support & education and learn to Trust Birth again, because "BIRTH IS SAFE & INTERFERENCE IS RISKY"

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