“When I walked in the door, I fell in love. The atmosphere, the women, and especially their approach to childbirth were a breath of fresh air,” Amber Rhodes told with me. “I felt like a woman, not a number. I transferred my care to Natural Beginnings that very day—I’ll never go anyplace else.” And Amber has kept that promise. She has four children, Everett, Teddy, Eloise, and Penny Mae. Natural Beginnings was, in fact, the beginning of each of their lives.
Amber’s wonderful stories about the births of her children are common among those who choose Natural Beginnings. Women are empowered, heard and seen, comforted, and amazed by the personal, professional healthcare they receive whether they are there for general women’s care, prenatal care, labor and birth, or postpartum care. While each experience is unique, just like all the women who give birth, the take-away is simple: Natural Beginnings is a life-changer. The providers give women a voice in the care they receive and the normal, natural birth that so many desire.
WHAT IT IS
Natural Beginnings Birth & Wellness Center is the only women’s health facility in our region that offers an out-of-hospital childbirth option at the birth center or a midwife-supported birth in the hospital. In fact, without Natural Beginning’s location in Statesville, women must travel to Asheville, Greensboro, or Chapel Hill to get these specialty services. With prenatal healthcare appointments scheduled from two to six weeks apart, to a labor-is-starting-right-now situation, several hours’ travel isn’t ideal. Six years ago, Amber chose Natural Beginnings four months in her first pregnancy because a five-minute drive to a closer office didn’t give her what she wanted: options. “The drive was worth it.”
“Women want to take part in all the decisions about their healthcare,” certified nurse-midwife and Center co-owner Marcia Ensminger told me. “Here, we provide obstetric well-woman care, on-site prenatal lab work and ultrasounds, genetic screening, and regularly scheduled office visits—you’ll get to see all of the midwives. We attend labor, delivery, provide after birth care, counseling and classes in pregnancy, nutrition, childbirth, and lactation support. Susie Hiatt and Martha Cuervo are our lactation consultants who see patients at Davis Regional Medical Center, as well as outpatient in our office.” The goal with new patients is to develop a prenatal plan, then determine what the expectant mother wants labor and delivery to be like…in the birth center or hospital? With or without medication? In a birthing tub?
Nicole Winecoff is co-owner and certified nurse midwife. She explained, “Our job is to recognize in advance issues that might arise; to transfer to the hospital, if necessary, before something becomes an emergency,” The Center’s five nurse-midwives, family nurse practitioner, nurses and RNs, plus office support staff work together daily with low-risk pregnancies, as well as with women who have medical issues. A thorough prenatal examination at the start allows them to identify concerns and educate, guide, treat, and partner with patients so that after months of care and monitoring, their birthing experience is appropriate, safe, and the most desirable they can have. Women with high blood pressure, diabetes, abnormal labor patterns, and a need for C-section delivery can continue care at Natural Beginnings and birth at Davis. When higher risk conditions occur, there is close collaboration with Dr. Stephen Coarsey. The midwives have full privileges at Davis Regional.
EXCEPTIONAL WOMEN’S HEALTHCARE
Dr. Coarsey is Natural Beginning’s supervising physician. Dr. Coarsey is one of our area’s most beloved OB-GYNs. He started his practice here in 1986—he may have delivered you! “I feel blessed to work with the women at Natural Beginnings. They know what they’re doing,” Steve told me. “Natural childbirth in a home-like setting is very appealing to people. Labor and delivery have become highly medicalized—treated like a disease—and it shouldn’t be that way. Women who don’t need hospitalization should definitely consider this practice…it’s a wonderful, safe place run by skilled, dedicated women.” Dr. Coarsey is called on when any red flags arise that require his consultation or assistance.
PROFESSIONAL AND BEAUTIFUL!
Nicole and Marcia opened the birth center in 2011 and have been improving services and the facility throughout their journey together. “We remodeled a year ago because we needed more room and wanted to offer complete birth suites with private bathrooms. Families deserve the most comfortable, convenient, and lovely space for labor and delivery,” Nicole explained as she gave me a tour. “We went from two rooms and one bath to three private rooms with baths and a birthing tub in each. Our rooms are big enough for family and friends to visit, and they are as comfortable, or more, as home. There’s a play area with toys for siblings and plenty of space for spouses, partners, grandparents—we’re very family-friendly!”
The Center has the same equipment as a hospital delivery room except an operating room or capacity to provide blood products. Other than that, Natural Beginnings provides all that’s needed, including administering IVs, managing and treating hemorrhage, resuscitating babies, and stabilizing mother or infant while waiting for transport to hospital, if necessary. The staff run emergency drills regularly with Iredell County EMS and Davis Regional. “Recently, a patient delivered at Davis just 28 minutes after we found her baby was breech,” Marcia shared. “There’s always a midwife and birth assistant with laboring mothers.”
A BIT OF HISTORY
Nicole and Marcia have worked together as labor and delivery nurses since 2001. “We were approached by Andy Davis, then CEO at Davis, because he realized the community was asking for midwifery care. ‘What can we do to bring midwifery care—and you two—to Statesville?’ he asked,” said Marcia. “We’d always wanted to open a birth center and said if the hospital would support it, we would open one Statesville. So, we showed him pictures and took him to see a birth center in South Carolina.” Andy’s suggestion took hold and the rest is history.
“It’s not easy to get the midwifery model going in a community and to keep it alive, but we were driven and determined to make this work. We had a lot of support,” Marcia continued. “We opened in August 2011 and had four births that month. We have 43 women due this month!”
WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
Expect that you will be cared for in a comprehensive, whole-person, attentive, state-of-the-art fashion from your first visit, whether you’re here for general women’s services or pregnancy care. Expect that you will feel like a full partner in your healthcare and birthing experience. You can be assured that you will be sleeping in your own comfy bed after your birth; Natural Beginnings is a short-stay, not an overnight, facility. Expect that you and your family will love this place and these special women!
Penny Mae’s birth in February “wasn’t what I expected,” Amber shared, “but even though it took longer and was very different than my first three, I felt surrounded by love the whole time. My husband and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Penny Mae is a joy!”
SPREAD THE WORD
“Women tell us they want choices; they want continuity of care in a well place, not a sick place. They want their partners in on the decision-making and their family involved,” said Nicole. “They want to get home, in their own bed with their new baby, their other children, and loved ones sharing the love…that’s why we do what we do…that’s why this is such an important place.”
Natural Beginnings Birth & Wellness Center
1420 Fern Creek Drive, Statesville