Photo courtesy St. Francis Medical Center
Whether you're aiming for a home or hospital birth, Dr. Tiffany Ramsey at Richmond OBGYN Associates encourages parents to ask: What physician coverage is offered? What do the labor rooms offer? And what type of breast-feeding support is available?
Nancy Giglio offers a personal home-birth experience through Richmond Birth Services Inc. Delivering locally in homes for more than 25 years, Giglio is a certified nurse-midwife but is overseen by a local ob-gyn who can assist in emergencies. "People choosing home births are looking to have the minimal amount of technology that will still keep them safe," she says.
If you prefer a medical facility, another nurse-midwife, Margie Rickell, says VCU Medical Center's labor-physician coverage has become warmer and more responsive in the past five years. "If everything is going fine, they will move with what the mom wants to do and get direction from the mom," Rickell says. "She is an empowered member of the health-care team."
CJW Johnston-Willis Hospital, St. Mary's Hospital, St. Francis Medical Center, VCU Medical Center and Henrico Doctors' Hospital all offer 24-hour, seven-days-a-week coverage for anesthesia and neonatology care, with doctors available to provide an epidural or handle any emergency with the baby.
Johnston-Willis has single-room deliveries, where labor, delivery and postpartum recovery all occur in the same private room, Ramsey says. Dr. Tamara Pringle says St. Francis and St. Mary's offer rooms equipped with showers and tubs for water births — Henrico Doctors' and VCU Medical Center offer similar options, as well. These hospitals all offer classes, including breast-feeding support.
Henrico Doctors' offers a Web-cam option for mothers to watch their babies being cleaned on the warmer seconds after being born, says Dr. Susan Dausch. St. Francis, St. Mary's and Memorial Regional include a Web-cam channel on the hospital TVs that's also accessible by Web for relatives, where mothers are able to receive a constantly refreshed video feed for babies in the NICU.
Unlike other regions, Richmond does not offer the option of free-standing birthing centers. Ramsey says the lack of local clinics is due to economics; such clinics require a great deal of private funding. Rickell adds that some in the birthing community are hopeful for centers to be created in future years, but the lack of local demand has kept them from developing.