Flat on my back, legs reluctantly spread, covered by only a flimsy, paper apron under florescent lights, my obstetrician said, “You’ll feel me touch you” as he interested his fingers and metallic cranks into my vagina.
I unintentionally consented to this unnecessary inspection during my first pregnancy simply by stepping foot into the office.
This is the kind of care I have become accustomed to; healthcare that leaves me feeling objectified, dehumanized, without choice.
That was until I decided on the midwifery care model for my current pregnancy and more recently, last week when I visited Dr. Amy Elliott, D.C. for my first chiropractic appointment.
Dr. Amy has made a lasting impression; she has showed me what healthcare can and should be.
Sitting next to me, she patiently explained each adjustment she would perform. She welcomed my questions. She listened to my concerns. She took interest in my entire well-being. She encouraged criticism. She asked permission to touch my body. Walking into her office, I knew I was going to be touched, but her simple “May I” left me feeling respected as a human being and empowered as a patient.
She hugged me at the end of the appointment. I nearly melted.
Today marks the opening of Authentic Birth Center Wellness Collective established by my midwife LaNette McQuitty, CPM, LM in Milwaukee, Wis.
LaNette has brought together a diverse collaborative of wellness providers including Dr. Amy and other midwives, chiropractors, doulas, an advanced nurse practitioner, an aromatherapist, massage therapist, a Chinese medicine specialist and acupuncturist, prenatal and family educators, lactation consultants, a certified holistic health coach, fitness instructors, music teacher among others to serve our community.
“We have an amazing group of talented, compassionate, diverse practitioners that have come together with women and families being their main focus,” LaNette says.
The opening of Authentic may come as a surprise to some, especially in light of the Madison Birth Center’s expected closing in November.
David Wahlberg writes in the Wisconsin State Journal, “The center couldn’t get the four HMOs that dominate the Madison-area health insurance market to cover its services, leaving it with an unsustainable business model.”
But LaNette is confident about Authentic’s viability.
“Though I am sad to see [the Madison Birth Center] close, Authentic reaches a much larger population and provides a greater variety of services and programs above and beyond birth options,” LaNette explains. “A family can birth at Authentic and then come back for something as common as a sports physical or as unique as a Chinese medicine consult.”
Still the center faces our culture’s misconceptions regarding out of hospital births, namely that birth is not safe unless undergone in a highly medicalized setting. [See BMJ 2005;330:1416 for more information on the safety of birth with a Certified Professional Midwife.]
Regardless, in recent years, there has been an increased demand for out of hospital births as women take back their bodies and birth.
Authentic offers various educational programs for the community to continue to promote and support normal birth.
The center is equipped with three birth suites with both tubs and showers, a gathering space for families, a full kitchen and 2,000 square feet of multi-use space available for community classes, meetings and events.
LaNette says she is most excited about “offering an option and environment which allows parents to be involved, to be respected and to be empowered by their birth.”
“We offer the opportunity for women to have a normal birth; a place where they are the process, a space where they can experience an instinctual birth, and where informed consent, not informed fear, reigns,” she continues.
With my previous traumatic prenatal care and birth experience almost always on my mind, I am especially thrilled about what Authentic stands for.
The center represents the dawning of a new era in healthcare. LaNette’s ambition and Authentic’s team’s devotion to outstanding maternal infant health offers me a glint of hope and the possibility that my daughters will never unwillingly lie flat on their backs, legs reluctantly spread, covered by only a flimsy, paper apron under florescent lights with metallic tools cranked into their bodies.
Authentic Birth Center Wellness Collective is located at 530 N 108th Pl, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53226.
The collective will host its grand opening event October 12 from 10 a.m until 4 p.m. For more information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/events/154209841442125/.