Support a woman's right to chose.

Image by Mexico Rosel
Today I have a beautifully written post from Ama. I don’t even have anything to add because homegirl took the words right out of my mouth. So with no further adieu…
My name is Ama, I’m from Charlotte, North Carolina, and I had my son, Lane, a year ago at a birth center in South Carolina.
We had to cross the border, which sounds kind of exotic, because our options for birthing outside of a hospital in N.C. are extremely limited. Home births are illegal here, and there is ONE birth center in the state that’s too far from my city.
My reasons for choosing natural birth aren’t all that important to this story. I am basically a stress case and my dating ultrasound at my OB sent me into a frenzy of worry when there wasn’t a heartbeat at 8 weeks (only to see one at 12 weeks after I’d googled so much my fingers were bleeding). I knew that if I continued there, getting blood work, counting heart chambers, pregnancy would be a crazy uncertain time where I was constantly on edge.
So I toured the closest birth center I could find and chose my midwife at Carolina Community Maternity Center based on credentials alone, but the relationship soon became much more personal.
She calmed me.
For every prenatal appointment, I would work myself into a frenzy with a thousand first-time-mom questions and every appointment my midwife sat there with a beautiful understanding smile and listened to my concerns and hung out with me for an hour putting them all to rest. When we left the birth center each time, we were reminded why we were choosing natural birth, and we felt prepared to face a world that wasn’t sure what to make of our choice.
If you feel like delving into the specifics of our birth story, you can do so here.
My midwife was also there after the birth when I got mastitis at 2am and thought I was going to die and didn’t know what to do. I called her. Like a friend. She gave me a crazy off-the-wall remedy, something like drinking salt water and taking lecithin, but really she just told me I could beat it and assured me I wasn’t going to die.
Almost a year after Lane was born, we went back to the center and took him to his “place of origin” that had since been turned into a lactation room. My husband held Lane over the spot he was born and said, “Soak up the energy!” in this hippy dippy way and I smiled at them, thinking that if we had to have him in a hospital, we would never be able to do this….to go to the very spot he was born and pretend it could give him super powers.
I’m sharing this because that center needs help right now, and I feel like it’s the least I can do, after the beautiful experience I had, to try to help it.
Exactly a year after my son was born in a bedroom style room with only my husband and midwife present on a day where it was sunny and raining at the same time, the South Carolina DHEC suspended the birth center’s license.
The reason, taken from our local paper, the Charlotte Observer:
“The center claimed the state was enforcing a regulation that had never been previously enforced on any S.C. birthing center – that a physician be on call and available to provide medical assistance at the birthing center at all times.”
During pregnancy and childbirth, when everything is distorted and new and strange, a woman should have the right to choose what calms her.
For some of us, it’s the OB. It’s the blood work, the ultrasounds, the backup doctors and the hospital sanitation and the IVs and pain medications, and for those people there is no skepticism, no difficulty to follow that path. The US medical system supports that path.
But for some of us, we need the woman sitting there telling us we can do this when we aren’t sure if we can…telling us that we are powerful, and she will be there to help. For this path there seems to always be a fight – whether it’s with your parents who look at you like you’re crazy, or with the state who is narrowing your options.
My support group has put together a donation website for the center, to help them “pay the rent and bills” while the suspension is in place. Anything that isn’t used towards the reopening of the birth center will be donated to the South Carolina birth coalition.
You can donate towards our birth center here.
You can tour their website

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Please help us, wherever you are, keep our options open.
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13 Responses

  • Great piece Ama, and such an important issue! Although my birth center birth went sideways and my baby was born in the hospital, I strongly believe in birth centers and the prenatal care I received was beyond any medical care I had experienced. Sadly my birth center is closing in November. The insurance companies in our area refuse to cover births there, and our local insurance companies dominate in my area. Home birth or hospital birth will be the only option for women where I live now. Hopefully your birth center survives this and opens its doors again soon!

  • Don’t even get me started on health care in this country. Everything is about what insurance companies will pay for. Any institution not supported by insurance companies has a small chance of surviving. It’s sad. Women should have a right to choose what kind of birth they want. I do think it’s important to leverage medical advances and have help available if it’s necessary… but, seriously, women have been having babies in caves for thousands of years.

  • Um, you seem to be ignoring the fact that the birthing center was closed because a baby died.

    Not a random, unpreventable death, not a child with hopelessly severe defects who never had a chance, the child died because his mother’s labor stalled for TWELVE HOURS before they transferred to a hospital. An hour before the transfer, when the midwife first found the baby’s heart slowing, the child probably still could have been saved.

    And no, don’t say “babies die in hospitals, too.” In hospitals, normal full-term babies do not just die during labor, and if one did, the entire hospital would be up at arms having a massive investigation.

    Me, I feel safer knowing that if anything went wrong, the person delivering my baby would actually fix the problem, rather than ignoring it until the baby died inside me.

    • I see your point and I thank you for sharing your opinion. Ama knows these midwives on a personal level and is confident in their care. We don’t know enough of the specifics of the birth to say it could have been prevented.

      What I am passionate about is a women’s right to make the decision where to birth her child. It sounds like, for you, the hospital is the best fit. I work at a hospital and know firsthand that shit hits the fan there too. Life is never a guarentee. I felt more comfortable birthing at home and I trusted my own midwife’s decision when my husband and her decided it was time to transfer to the hospital.

      My thoughts go out to the grieving family. My thoughts also go out to the midwives, who no doubt are suffering as well.

      I’m going to turn it over to Ama in hopes that she knows more specifics and can speak more clearly on the subject.

      • This is the second death there this year, you don’t think that information should be part of informed consent?
        Intrapartum stillbirths are ridiculously rare in hospital, this center has two in a year, with nowhere close to the volume that a hospital sees.
        It is all well and good that the midwives are nice, but what does nice do in an emergency, clearly not enough. How can you say you’re supporting a woman’s choice if you won’t give her ALL. The information?

        • We don’t know what information they give their clients, but it’s been my experience in knowing many other moms that have gone the home birth / birthing center route that they are very educated in regards to the choice they’re making. People don’t just chose a birth center without doing research. In fact, it’s quite the opposite… Many that chose a home birth / birthing center go that route because of the research they’ve done.

          This post was published prior to any mention of any death, so I can’t say anything in regards to how safe their practice is. I can only speak from my own experience with my own midwives. I had a backup OB for both of my births and after I went past 40 weeks, I was seeing both my midwife and their OB (with their OB being the one that would continue to give me to go-ahead to keep on waiting it out).

          I agree 100% that women need to be given ALL the information and I can tell you with the same assurance that women who give birth in the hospital are only given a portion of the information. I would never chose a hospital over a birthing center because I thought the hospital would give me information. The hospital does no such thing. Part of the reason I went with midwives was because my voice was heard and all the decisions were made as team, with my informed consent.

          I am supporting a woman’s choice. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT. You can’t say that I’m not. If anything, your only arguement can be that I support a woman’s choice to a fault. And maybe you’re right. But we’re all entitled to our own opinions. And really, I thank you for sharing yours.

    • Hello Jane,

      From my understanding, the regulation was in the process of being enforced on the birth center when there was a tragic incident that escalated the close. I wrote this post prior to learning of the incident, which may make it seem like there is a gap in knowledge.

      I am committed to speaking to my experience at the birth center. What happened was a tragedy, however I also believe completely that I was personally SAFER with the care of a midwife at that birth center than I ever would have been under hospital care. I believe that in a hospital I would have been subjected to procedures that were of a greater danger to my child than when I was allowed to labor and birth naturally.

      The center was closed after the tragic incident, but it was not closed for that reason, from my understanding. The midwives involved licenses were revoked based on the incident, but the center was closed citing the regulation.

      While my thoughts go out to the family, I don’t believe the birth center should have been closed. I can’t imagine being 30-40 weeks pregnant, prepared to go to the center, and suddenly my choice gets wiped out from under my feet. I feel for those women too. They suddenly HAVE to go to the hospital, where most of them, like me, feel it’s less safe and feel less comfortable and feel more anxiety.

      I see that you are passionate about this and I appreciate your empathy, but I also ask that you try to find some empathy for another side of the story as well, one where a place that has safely delivered over 400 babies naturally for 4 years without issue has been closed. Can a hospital present me with such positive odds?

      • Given 400 full-term healthy fetuses with healthy mothers? Absolutely, the hospital would deliver 400 fine babies. Matter of fact, most decent-sized hospitals deliver several hundred babies every year, with no unexpected intrapartum deaths.

        I have lots of empathy for women who are afraid of the hospital. However, unlike a couple generations ago, the hospital is much much safer than any alternative.

  • Ama – thank you so much for sharing your story. I hope your birthing center never has to close it’s doors. I could not agree with you more when you say that women should have the right to choose where they give birth and that they should be fully informed. I wanted a drug-free birth for my own baby but I was in a hospital and it didn’t work out that way. Here’s to hoping you can fill up on Lane’s super powers on his 2nd bday as well.

  • I now live in LA, but moved from Charlotte NC last year where I was blessed to find Carolina Community Birth center where I had the MOST beautiful birth with the most amazing midwives by my side. Like the author of this post, I 100% support a woman’s choice to choose the setting she finds most comfortable for birth — which often is a hospital — I am so passionate about the home birth experience and would do it over in an instant. The level of care I received blew me away — the confidence, intelligence, gentleness, expertise… it was all there. And the support was incredible. I’d love to connect with the author of this post!

    • Hi Rachel.

      I’m glad to hear of another positive experience at CCMC. It really is an amazing place with a high level of care.

      You can contact me through my blog at There I have links to my facebook page, etc.

      If you’d like to send me an e-mail, you can do so at

      There’s also a private support group for the center on facebook that I can add you to if you’re interested.



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