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WESTERN NEW YORK NEEDS A BIRTHING CENTER

Before the birth of our most recent child, my husband and I toured the local hospitals. This is not our first child and we have lived in other places, so we came to the experience with high expectations, which were immediately crushed.

In a prior birth, we worked with a birthing center that was less than 500 yards from a well-staffed hospital.

The facility had a homelike setting, a bed, a rocking chair, plenty of private space for the laboring mother to walk around in and a bathtub and shower, because heat does wonders for taking away the pain of contractions. Moreover, the mother could birth in whatever position felt comfortable.

Sadly, we could find nothing like this in Buffalo. What we did find was a lot of technology, continual reminders of how we might want to forgo our Lamaze and have a drugged delivery and an attitude that pregnancy is a disease that needs to be cured.

The birthing rooms we found were a nightmare. They were cramped, allowing the mother to take only a few paces across the room. Very few had private showers and the only testimony to any concern for the mother feeling at home was the colored wallpaper border.

Even the birthing beds were very limiting, forcing a woman to birth in a prostrate or semi-reclined position, which is terribly difficult. I know from experience. It's so much easier to be upright and letting gravity help deliver the baby.

In short, we found the whole experience upsetting. We no longer wonder why our friends are moving to more progressive cities.

D. LYGIA BERNHARDT

Getzville

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