Written by: Whitney Halvorsen, Student Nurse (Minnesota School of Business-Richfield)
Why go to the hospital if you are not sick? This is the belief at the Minnesota Birthing Center (MBC) in Minneapolis, MN. As the Twin Cities’ first and only freestanding birth center, MBC is the ideal place for healthy mothers and babies to receive care throughout their pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum, and also continuing care throughout their lifespan. In October 2012, a group of nursing students from Minnesota School of Business and the Dean of their program, Kendra Saal, had the opportunity to visit the birthing center for the first time. As part of their OB nursing experience, the students were welcomed into the facility. It much more resembles a beautiful Victorian home than a hospital and the students were educated on the essence of MBC.
While many hospitals specialize in treating the ill, MBC views their clients with a health promotional lens. They believe that pregnancy is a natural and healthy experience in the life of a woman. The center is based upon the midwifery model of care, which emphasizes continuous care and labor support from a midwife. It focuses on the individual emotional, social, spiritual, and physical needs of the pregnant mother and her family. Care of the clients of MBC is directly from Certified Nurse Midwives and Registered Nurses. Certified Nurse Midwives must be educated in midwifery and nursing and earn graduate degrees, complete a midwifery education program, and pass a national certification examination. There are no physicians that practice at MBC. In fact, the only physician involved at the MBC is Dr. Steven Calvin, an obstetrician in high risk pregnancies, who envisioned a place where women could give natural birth without ever setting foot in a hospital. As founder and medical director of MBC, he has made this possible for low-risk pregnant women in the Twin Cities area.
The nursing students had the honor of meeting and discussing the practices at MBC with Mary Signe Kelly, one of MBC’s Certified Nurse Midwives. She explained the significance of MBC. It is a place where women are empowered through their pregnancy and labor, a time in a woman’s life that is seen as completely normal. Because of this, the center does not engage in routine obstetric practices such as IV lines, continuous fetal monitoring, routine induction of labor, or epidurals. At MBC women are in control of their labor and have options, such as water birthing, eating and drinking during labor, wearing their own clothes, and immediate skin-to-skin contact with their newborns. Conveniently, the center is located across the street from Abbott Northwestern Hospital, where the Certified Nursing Midwives at MBC have privileges in case of a transfer.
The students learned the benefits of women embracing pregnancy and active birth. The group was able to view the two laboring rooms, which looked more like rooms one would find in a spa, with large bathtubs for tea-soaks and private bathrooms. Although the serenity of the center may attract many clients, it is the welcoming professionals and their dedication to the art of midwifery that make the Minnesota Birthing Center such a success for women and families.