Are you planning a hospital birth in Oklahoma City or Edmond? As a Doula, I spend a lot of time at central Oklahoma hospitals supporting families during their labor, birth, and postpartum journeys. After providing doula support for almost five years in Oklahoma, I wanted to share some insights about our local hospital birth centers from a doula’s perspective, starting with one of my favorites – OU Children’s Hospital! The Mother & Baby Center in The Children’s Hospital at OU Health in Oklahoma City is located in the heart of Oklahoma city at 1200 Children’s Ave. This was the very first hospital I ever supported a family as a doula in Oklahoma.
If you plan on breastfeeding your little one, this hospital will help you set yourself up for success with breastfeeding classes and lactation support during your labor, birth, and postpartum stay. OU Children’s holds the respected designation of a Baby-Friendly Hospital, accredited in the United States by Baby-Friendly USA (BFUSA). I have gone to several of the lactation trainings at OU alongside OU nurses and they receive up to date training frequently.
Hospitals who are accredited with BFUSA must follow and maintain the Ten steps to Sucessful Breastfeeding. “The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are the broad framework that guide the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. They were developed by a team of global experts and consist of evidence-based practices that have been shown to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration, and were updated in 2018. Baby-Friendly® hospitals and birthing facilities must adhere to the Ten Steps to receive, and retain, a Baby-Friendly designation.” (BFUSA)
Not every hospital in Oklahoma is supportive of VBAC births (Vaginal Births After Cesarean) and do not ‘permit’ parents to even attempt a VBAC or TOLAC (Trial of Labor After Cesarean). Yet, OU Children’s OBGYNs are trained and supportive of VBAC births. While Mercy hospital does have care providers that support VBAC, not all do. This could mean if your VBAC friendly provider is not the on call provider, you could run into issues with a non-VBAC friendly OBGYN at Mercy. At OU Children’s, this should not be a potential risk.
The Mother and Baby center at OU Children’s has the technology, staff training, NICU unit, and ability to care for high risk pregnancies and births. OU children’s has the highest level of newborn care in Oklahoma.
I have supported several high-risk doula families at OU and so far all of my families have been treated with respect and supported in their birth goals. This includes a premature labor where the OBGYN providing care practiced delayed cord clamping for a premie baby. While this is an Evidence Based practice that gives premie babies a huge boost of blood supply that they need for their journey ahead, it is rarely practiced by many providers for premies.
I also had a family who was planning a home birth but because of Gestational Diabetes ‘risked out’ of care and had to transfer to OU Children’s for a medically indicated induction. I have never seen a care team so supportive of a person’s birth goals and wishes. They supported her in her goals where most hospitals may have tried to red tape her with hospital policy. This may have been because my client’s midwife was present as an additional support team member, which leads me to my next point.
While home birth families with a licensed certified professional midwife are what are considered ‘low-risk’, sometimes births require a transfer to a hospital in order to utilize tools available in a hospital setting. Most often home birth families are transferring into the hospital for ‘maternal exhaustion’ where labor has taken a long time and the parent would like to use an epidural or other hospital tool to get some rest.
There are some instances where a situation can become emergent and a quick transfer to a nearby birth center is necessary for the family. This is what is practiced in most other countries around the world, like in the UK. Midwives care for Low Risk families and OBGYNs care for high risk families and transfers.
Yet, in America, not all home birth transfers are met with understanding care and support. Sometimes on-call hospital care providers can be demeaning or punitive to licensed/unlicensed midwives and the family that hired them. Currently, OU Children’s is the most supportive hospital for home birth transfers in Central Oklahoma. This support makes such a powerful difference for families in Oklahoma. I hope that as Home birth continues to trend in practice, more hospitals can learn to be supportive of working cooperatively with Oklahoma midwives.
As far as I am aware, this is the only Central Oklahoma hospital that currently has bathtubs that laboring parents can use during their labor journey. I believe that not every room has a tub, but there is a chance you could get one with a tub which is better odds than the other hospitals. I have had previous doula families labor in the bathtubs and absolutely love the warm water on their muscles!
This one may seem unimportant or silly, but as someone who spends a lot of time at hospitals for extended periods of time, food is important! OU Children’s has a cafe called Kamp’s 1910 Cafe and it is pretty good. There are different lattes and coffee drinks that they make fresh as well as fresh foods like sandwiches, oatmeals, and more. You can probably imagine how important coffee is to doula work! Having a cafe only a few floors away with delicious coffee drinks is wonderful compared to plain coffee with powdered creamer or having to order Starbucks in via Grubhub/Postmates.
One thing a few of my doula families did not like about OU Children’s Hospital is that it is a teaching hospital.
“A teaching hospital is a hospital that’s affiliated with a medical school and teaches medical students, resident physicians and perhaps other learners. There is often a research program associated with a Teaching Hospital.
Many doctors consider teaching the new generation of doctors as one of the most important ways that they, themselves, stay current in medicine and innovations in the field. So, “teaching hospitals” are sought out by doctors who want to practice medicine in an environment that is committed to best-in-class care, learning and innovation.” (Stamford)
This means that care providers will typically have students joining them throughout your labor and birth journey. Teaching hospitals oftentimes provide higher quality and more-complex care, but that doesn’t mean that all families like having students present in their birth room.
As a Doula, I have never been bothered by students at the hospital as they have all been respectful of my doula families thus far. Also, as a student midwife myself, I know how important it is for these students to learn from their mentors. I see getting to work with future OBGYNs as a doula and future midwife as an opportunity to show them beneficial work can come from working as a team together.
This one might seem weird but if you are planning for an induction, it can take 2+ days before you give birth to your little one. Staying in a hospital room with no window for an extended period of time has its cons. The postpartum rooms that you move to after baby is born do have windows thankfully!
Would you like to learn more about the Mother an Baby Center at the Children’s hospital at OU Health? They have a website with educational resources and with additional information about their birth center. Follow the link below to learn more.
Jenni Jenkins – Sekine is an Oklahoma City Bereavement, Birth, & Postpartum doula who serves her Central Oklahoma community. She is also a midwifery assistant with Holistic Birthing Services and planning to begin her student midwifery journey in 2022.
To learn more about Jenni, please click here.