Birthing at Providence: An Insider’s Guide (part two)

One of the lovely rooms at Providence Hospital

(In my previous post, I went into some of the steps and procedures of arriving to birth your baby at Providence.  In this part, I get into the awesome nursing staff, some key policies, and a few frequently asked questions.)

Nursing Staff

Whether you have chosen to go with O.B. care or the midwifery model, you will be seeing your nurses the most.  They  are the ones who spend significant time in the room with you, and I have been uniformly impressed.  The nursing staff at Providence is stellar.  I watch them carefully read birth plans, reassure mothers that most, if not all, items on their birth plan are considered standard care, and communicate clearly with respect and kindness.  You are only going to deal with one nurse at a time, which is pleasant–no new people to get to know until your nurse’s shift is over.

When there is a shift change, they have a practice called “Bedside Reporting,” where the new nurse is informed of a mother’s wishes and labor history right there in the room with you.  This may seem a bit odd at first, as they discuss you and your labor directly in front of you, but it’s really an invitation to be a part of that conversation.  You are welcome to add and interject anything as they talk, and doing so will only help them know how to support you even better.

Common Questions about Policies

VBACS and Cesareans

When I meet with families for the first time, many of them cite the reduced rate of a cesarean as a reason for wanting a doula.  They’re right–having a doula support them through labor DOES reduce the possibility of a c-section.  Equally important to reducing that possibility is the facility where they choose to to give birth.  According to Consumer Reports and, our Providence is kind of smack in the middle of national averages at 19.8%.  This should be encouraging to families birthing there–Providence does not have a high rate of cesareans, and is actually much lower than the national average according to ACOG’s findings.  And of course,having your doula with you only makes that better!

Another thing that greatly affects the rate of cesarean is the individual medical care provider that you choose–I strongly recommend asking your doctors what their own cesarean rate is, and taking that into account along with your other birth plan choices.

One of my more recent phone calls was with a dear mother planning a VBAC, and asking if I had any experience either with VBACs in general and specifically at Providence.  I am so happy to be able to answer yes to both!  I have found that VBAC labors are welcome at Providence, and treated with respect.  Some of the few things to be aware of is that Providence does NOT administer labor-inducing medications to a mother working through a VBAC, and they usually save Labor rooms that are right across the hall from their OR.  They are a little more squeamish about how much food a mother eats when she’s working through a VBAC, and they are much more focused on continual monitoring.  Otherwise, you can expect to have a fairly normal labor, with the same respectful treatment as any other woman in their care.


This has come up a few times as I talk with my clients.  While Providence has made sure that every Labor Room has a bathtub, and that mothers know they are welcome to use it, they seem ambiguous at best about the idea of actually birthing in that tub.  I have heard from clients who really had to pin down a straight answer from their doctor or midwife before being told that no, Providence does not “allow” waterbirths.  I don’t think they would exactly haul you out of the tub if you were actively pushing that baby out, but their official policy is against it.  I will also say…those tubs are small.  They look to be about 75% of the size of a normal bathtub, and you probably don’t want to birth in such a cramped space anyways.

In Closing

It has been a privilege to be welcomed into the labor rooms at Providence.  I am increasingly proud of our local hospital, and the commitment they have to caring for birthing mothers in ways that are kind, respectful, and thoughtful.  While I feel that they still have a bit of room for improvement, they are generally characterized by calm, gracious-feeling rooms, fabulous nursing staff, and secure medical practices.  This is absolutely a choice that an expecting family can feel good about–especially with your doula by your side.

And please know, I always welcome questions and comments.  Curious about something that I didn’t mention?  Please ask below!  Got a story to share?  You have to know that I love birth stories.  Please tell me about your own experience.

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