In late 2017, when Danielle Hesley’s husband came home to reveal his company was relocating him from Duluth, Minnesota to Birmingham, Alabama, the hunt was on – for a new house, new schools for their two children, a new church and …. a physician to deliver Baby #3, due in a few short months.
Already in her second trimester, Danielle began vigorously researching all of the options throughout Birmingham. Like most women, she considered several different aspects in her search from C-section rates, ease of appointment scheduling, likeability of the doctor, hospital affiliation and more. But there was one key component Danielle was looking for in particular.
“It was important to me that I find a facility that supported low birth intervention,” Danielle said.
With her first two pregnancies, she desired to have low intervention birth and was dead set on offering up any pain as a gift for her babies rather than take any pain medications. But due to a variety of unforeseen circumstances for both deliveries, she did not experience the labor & delivery outcome that she had so desperately wanted.
“[When my first two babies were born], I was so grateful to God for safe and healthy babies & that they were finally here,” Danielle said. “But, it did take me several months to grieve and accept that I hadn’t done anything wrong, even though I had not experienced the natural birth of my dreams. Nevertheless, with the gift of our third pregnancy, I was still hoping to have an intervention-free labor and delivery.”
Coming from a Catholic background, Danielle naturally gravitated towards St. Vincent’s as her first stop in her Birmingham, Alabama low-intervention birth investigation. She made her appointment and was excited to learn more about the hospital’s available amenities, but her experience was less than ideal
“I felt rushed, like I was a number,” Danielle recalled. “I waited for two and a half hours & only had about five minutes with the doctor. It was awful. I ended up leaving in tears. I knew that I needed a different sort of “listening” relationship with my doctor. Although there were several other doctors affiliated with St Vincent’s who had a reputation for supporting low intervention birth, I discovered that they were part of very large call groups. Therefore, the likelihood of actually delivering with that doctor was very slim. I wasn’t at peace with that option, either.”
Back to the drawing board.
She looked into more facilities around town, including Grandview Medical Center, which was located only a few short miles from their new home in the Inverness area. With such convenience, Danielle had high hopes for this one, but soon found out that it didn’t meet her expectations either.
“Newer & fancier doesn’t always mean better,” Danielle said. “Throughout my research, I saw no indication that they valued low intervention. And so, even with it being so close to my house, it was never really a contender”.
Feeling rather exhausted by the ongoing decision to be made, Danielle decided to reach out to a group of Christian doulas to ask their advice on which doctors they would recommend at each of the local hospitals in Birmingham. Since they had witnessed hundreds of births with a variety of doctors in the region, they were able to share a well-rounded perspective of options. They supplied Danielle with a list of recommended doctors, and she began to research each person on the list. The doula told also relayed to Danielle that she highly recommended Princeton Baptist Medical Center, because the entire team of doctors and certified nurse midwives who delivered there, had been universally supportive & exceptionally skilled, to help facilitate low-intervention births for the mothers who chose to deliver under their care.
It became apparent to Danielle that she was finally on the right track. She was impressed with Princeton’s dedication to creating an atmosphere with the comforts of home combined with the safety of a hospital. She also noticed that the Simon Williamson staff (one of Princeton’s multi-specialty clinic’s on campus) “knew their stuff and were able to clearly communicate with each other and their patients.” But most importantly, she found the low-intervention culture she was looking for. At 26 weeks into her pregnancy, she made the official decision to welcome Baby #3 at Princeton.
“I fell in love with the entire staff,” Danielle says, referring to the staff at the Simon-Williamson Clinic, a multi-specialty medical clinic on Princeton’s campus. “I couldn’t have been more pleased by their personal touch combined with their incredible medical knowledge.”
In June 2018, Hamilton Yarbrough, one of Simon Williamson Clinic’s nurse midwives, delivered Danielle’s third baby into the world at Princeton Baptist Medical Center. Danielle says “it was a dream-come-true natural labor and delivery; it was the birth I had always dreamed would be possible”.
She explains in her own words . . . . . .
ON HER LABOR & DELIVERY
My labor & delivery was peaceful, gentle and smooth. It was a dream came true! I am so grateful for the healing & empowering experience that Princeton offered me. They supported and encouraged me to welcome our little baby into the world with just the strength of my own body achieving its innate capacity! I pray that other first-time laboring mothers will have the gift of laboring at Princeton, so that they can experience this grace of a joyful, low-intervention birth the first time around!
ON PRENATAL CARE
I am deeply grateful for the holistic care of the Simon-Williamson team during the prenatal visits for my third pregnancy. Instead of researching elements of natural medicine online (leading to great confusion with contradicting information from various sources), I was able to trust the training of the nurse midwives on staff at Simon-Williamson. Their moderate, evidence-based training allows them to share the wisdom of standard OBGYN practices, in combination with a holistic approach of caring for the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of mother & baby.
Perhaps the most wonderful thing is that the prenatal care at Simon-Williamson allows for further education throughout the pregnancy to learn the many things that you can do to positively prepare for proper positioning during labor & delivery like your posture during sleep, exercises to do each day, sitting postures to avoid (particularly near the end of the pregnancy). The team was able to answer all of my questions on this topic, and I am convinced that it allowed me to have such a smooth, peaceful, dream-come-true labor and delivery experience!
ON FINALLY HAVING A LOW-INTERVENTION BIRTH
Although, I knew very well that there are many things out of my control for a labor & delivery (and that I needed to accept the gift of God’s plan for however our baby was going to be safely born into this world), I still dreamed of having a completely intervention-free, natural labor and delivery. I realized that a significant factor in making that dream possible would be the attitude of the doctors and nurses, and their expertise to help achieve low intervention birth whenever possible. When a mother can labor & deliver naturally, the physiological and emotional benefits of the endorphins are such a tremendous gift to the mother and child. I am so grateful that Princeton Medical Center wants to extend the gift of low-intervention birth to as many mothers as possible!
ON PRINCETON’S BIRTH NAVIGATOR & LACTATION CONSULTANT
One of the greatest gifts of birthing at Princeton was the opportunity to receive the care of lactation consultant, Marcia. She is an angel! It is difficult to express the depth of my gratitude for her incredible dedication to supporting mothers in the tremendous responsibility of sustaining the lives of their babies through breastfeeding. After meeting with each mother in the postpartum recovery rooms, Marcia gives the mother a folder full of resources surrounding breastfeeding, and a business card with her cell phone number on it. “Call or text me anytime,” she said. I thought to myself, “Are you kidding me? That is unbelievable!” She is like a breastfeeding guardian angel, 24/7, for countless mothers who contact her in tears, struggling to get a proper latch, a steady milk supply, and help their babies gain proper weight. I personally reached out to Marcia many times and went to meet her at the hospital on several occasions, when I was struggling in my milk supply. I hadn’t experienced a low milk supply previously, and so it was very stressful and upsetting to me. I cannot thank Marcia enough for making herself so readily available to communicate with me.
Congratulations Danielle on your newest addition & welcome to Birmingham!
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