Austin Area Birthing Center Williamson County has only been open for a few weeks now, but we’ve already delivered five babies there, with no hospital transfers needed! We’re so excited about our new location and can’t wait to see an Austin Area Birthing Center community blossom in Williamson County. Austin Area Birthing Center founder Jean Stokes explains why we opened a third birth center and how it fits into our mission of providing the best prenatal care in Austin.
What was your inspiration for opening a birth center in Williamson County?
Our Duval birth center was getting too crowded and we were having to turn women away every month. We noticed that about a third of those moms lived in Williamson County, so we had a choice. Our options were to either expand the Duval center and make a megacenter or open another birth center and offer the same personal and boutique care that we strive for. We obviously decided on the latter option.
When it came to finding the location – it had to be close to a hospital, affordable and high end – luckily, we found the perfect spot in Williamson County.
What lessons did you learn from building the first two centers that you applied to the Williamson County birth center?
We made a few mistakes with the first two centers, just little awkward things that you don’t think about. For instance, a birth center does require soundproofing! Little choices like having kitchenettes in every suite, the location of the bathrooms and separating the teaching studio from the other parts of the center are all things that we learned from Duval and William Cannon.
What feature of the Williamson County location are you most excited about?
The kitchen is so pretty that I can’t get my eyes off of it. It’s a big chef’s kitchen – you can make anything you want in it!
What was the inspiration for the decor in the birthing suites?
The designer, Billy, and I came up with the Urban Retreat, Hill Country and Tranquility Suite themes and decorations. All of our centers have rooms with unique themes that make everything feel a little more personal.
How does the care at Austin Area Birthing Center Williamson County differ from the care you might receive at an OB/GYN or hospital?
When you come to our birth center, you’re going to give birth and have your checkups at the same location. The staff that takes care of you prenatally is going to be the same one that is with you when you deliver your baby. You get all of the same lab tests, ultrasounds and checkups that you’d get at a doctor, but you get much more time with your provider. Pregnancy is wonderful and natural, but it’s also stressful and a little scary. We think that you need that one on one emotional connect with your caregiver to make it less traumatic.
Another major difference is that if you go to a doctor, you’re not going to channel yourself right into constant community and classes that last for two years. That’s a big part of what we offer.
What advice would you give to mothers who are looking at different ways to have their baby and prenatal care?
I would tell them not to be afraid. It’s a normal thing. You should remember that midwives view pregnancy and birth as normal – until proven otherwise. Then we move to plan B, no problem. Physicians, on the other hand, view pregnancy and birth as a medical emergency until proven normal. That mindset makes a huge difference in the care.