Before I dive into this list, let me say upfront that this post is based on the opinions and personal experiences from fellow mommies and doulas who have given birth or worked with clients in the Charlotte area.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Brooke Atkinson from Beautiful Childbirth and Alex McGuire from A Pampered Beginning (who both are part of Doulas of the Charlotte Area) to chat about their wisdom of the birthing world. For someone like me who has given birth 3 times and enjoys the thrills of pregnancy and birth, it was a wonderful way to spend the morning while our kids played and made new friends themselves!
I also want to add that the reason why I wanted to find out the top natural friendly hospitals in the area is because it seems like there is a rising demand against the “box birth” of hospitals and many are seeking to take more charge of their experience in some way. Whether that means a 100% natural birth, asking to change certain procedures like not having an IV, or simply being able to use cloth diapers in the hospital like Kelley’s experience! Also, its common knowledge that at any hospital you will find options from the medical model side of births like c-sections or epidurals, its often what they specialize in birth-wise! But, not every hospital these days see many natural births or have policies or equipment that make it easier to achieve for moms. This list is a hospital from each area around Charlotte (North, South, East, West, Downtown) in hopes that where ever you live you have a good option for in your birth journey. But of course, don’t forget there are now 2 birthing centers in our area and your own home is an option if you feel like maybe the hospital isn’t for you!
CMC-Pineville- Both doulas agreed that this hospital hands down was the best in the area. Why? Because they have a lot of experienced staff with natural births and are supportive to alternative ideas about birth and afterwards. There is a group of Certified Nurse Midwives that deliver here that are more natural minded, but the supporting nurse staff also seem to be open minded to different desires. For example, some nurses I’ve heard recommending the mom getting into the tub to ease her contractions instead of pushing for medicine or have allowed a mom to use a breast pump to encourage contractions naturally. I’ve had several moms tell me they were able to use different positions to push, like squatting, instead of the typical laying on your back in the bed (which, is convenient for the doctor catching the baby but not the best position to allow the baby to move down). I’ve heard they don’t push to have IV’s or hemlocks in place while in labor unless truly needed and monitor the baby sporadically, so you are able to move more freely. VBAC’s are also an option here with certain providers if that’s something you are interested in. After birth they advocate skin-to-skin contact, even after a c-section, and I’ve had moms tells me many of the tests were delayed until after an hour so mom and baby had their bonding time. They also encourage your baby room in with you during your stay. I have heard so many good things about this hospital from moms and those who support moms during labor. Source after source have said this is the best hospital to give birth!
The following hospitals I haven’t heard many personal experiences with, so I honestly have less information to give you. However, these were the top choices of the doulas I spoke with due to their open-mind to alternative birth choices, making it easier for moms to achieve what they desire. In these hospitals, the staff have more experience with moms wanting to incorporate or refuse certain procedures than others in our area might, but they still may be more insistent on compromising with hospital policies. Such as if you didn’t want to an IV they may still encourage a heplock “just in case,” or if you didn’t want to be strapped to the bed with fetal monitors they like to get a 20 minute strip of monitoring per hour.
Gaston Memorial- Midwives also deliver here and the option to labor in a whirl-pool tub is available. They use one room for labor, delivery, and postpartum and they encourage mother and baby bonding by rooming in with your baby. They also have one of the lowest c-section rates in our area!
CMC-Northeast- This hospital also advocates mother-baby bonding by skin-to-skin and I’ve heard they will wait an hour after the birth, as long as baby is healthy, to begin testing so those first moments of life are spent close with mom and establishing breastfeeding. They also do the baby’s care right in the room with the family and encourages the baby to room in during your stay. However, I’ve heard that they do not have tubs to labor in, just showers.
CMC-Main- There is a group of midwives who deliver here as well. However, only a few rooms have a tub to labor in, the rest have showers. They currently have the lowest rate for labor augmentation, meaning less chance of using interventions like Pitocin to keep contractions going. Which, means less likely needing an epidural to cope or leading to a higher risk of a c-section due to fetal distress caused by the Pitocin.
Lake Norman Regional- Certified Nurse Midwives deliver here too and alternatives like laboring in a jacuzzi tub is an option here as well. This hospital has experienced physicians that help with VBAC’s and have the highest rate of VBAC’s in our area!
Keep in mind that ultimately it comes down to the provider you chose and how natural minded they are, not just the hospital. Know what you want in your birth experience and ask for it, not all hospitals offer natural friendly alternatives unless you ask. Hiring a doula to support you in your decisions and is a great way to help boost your chances of getting the birth you desire, where ever you choose to deliver!
If you are interested in learning more about how a doula can help you during and after labor, the Doulas of the Charlotte Area is having an Ask the Doula Day this Saturday August 20th from 12-2pm at the Earthfare in Ballantyne. This is a great place for pregnant moms, soon-to-be-dads, or just someone who loves to talk about birth to get more information about birth and how a doula can help you. The wonderful doulas I met with will be there!