For Imani Bowden, finding out she was pregnant was a shock. This first pregnancy came so quickly after she and her partner started trying. Excited and filled with questions, she eagerly went to the doctor. The experience didn’t feel right for Imani, she felt rushed and that the doctor didn’t care individually about the patients, questions, and experiences. Imani’s partner had a mentor who had gone to Community of Hope and had given birth at the birth center. “I had no clue what it was or what it was about... my first appointment at Community of Hope, they answered all of my questions.” At 20 weeks, Imani became a Community of Hope patient and was on her way to having a healthy, happy baby.
Imani felt an immediate difference in the care of the midwives – literally learning what a midwife was for the first time. “[The midwives] really cared. We started developing a birthing plan, and what route I wanted to take. The resources at Community of Hope were amazing.” Not only did Imani feel safer with her care, but she also benefitted from many programs offered by the Family Health and Birth Center. The ‘Ride for Moms’ program, offered through a partnership with UberHealth and Surgo Ventures, was incredibly helpful because Imani doesn’t drive. This makes access to healthcare much easier, covering Uber rides to go to and from appointments.
“They were gracious to even extend those rides to me going back and forth to other appointments like the chiropractor. I could see the cost of the rides, and I would say ‘thank God’ they are paying for this. It adds up, and towards the end of my pregnancy I was at the birth center every week.”
Imani loved the CenteringPregnancy© program. This program provides group prenatal care, individualized attention, care coordination, and counseling. “There were a lot of things that we didn’t know. I didn’t know how long the milk would last in the refrigerator versus freezing it. I didn’t know you should only let the baby sleep on its back. I felt like it was also a nice getaway to see and chat with other moms.”
When Imani went into labor, she took an Uber to the birth center and was immediately met by the midwives. Her contractions were coming hard and fast. As many first-time moms can attest, the labor took longer than expected. “I’m happy I was at the birth center because they give you more freedom to let your body do what felt more natural to do as labor progressed. If I was in the hospital, I more likely would have been [in the bed].”
Holding her baby for the first time, she was flooded with immediate relief and joy. With her mother and partner at her side, she pondered what she had just done – she had just become a mother! “She came out of me. You never know, but you’re stronger than you think you are. Here I was thinking I couldn’t do it or make it through, and I did.”
Imani had a 24-hour follow-up appointment, met with the lactation specialists, and continued to use the Rides for Moms program. “I struggled with my breastfeeding journey in the beginning, and the lactation specialist made me feel okay and gave me reassurance that everything was normal. The Rides for Moms program extended to six weeks postpartum. You still have a lot of appointments post-birth.”
Imani wants other parents to know that they can choose different options when giving birth. People don’t have to go with traditional care. Of the team at Family Health and Birth Center, she says “They are all very happy people and they have assisted me a lot. I’m looking forward to having another baby. I think Community of Hope is a great option for all moms that want to attempt an unmedicated birth. They are personable and they care. Having a team around that truly cares is important when you are pregnant.”
If you would like to learn more about Community of Hope’s vision for Healthy Beginnings, Hopeful Futures to expand and relocate this wonderful health center, please visit www.communityofhopedc.org/newFHBC. To learn about supportive and integrated wellness programs, including home visiting, visit: www.communityofhopedc.org/healthcare/wellness-programs.