“I wish someone had warned me the third birth could be longer than the second,” Shaquana laughed as she began describing the birth of her daughter Inaaya at the newly expanded Family Health and Birth Center. Shaquana is not new to being a mother or having an out of hospital birth. But as every child is unique so is every birth experience—this one was no exception.
Having moved from the Virginia Beach area to Washington DC to be closer to family, Shaquana had to find prenatal care. Before she came to Community of Hope, she was with another practice that made her feel overlooked. “They didn’t do any testing or ultrasounds, and they kept cancelling appointments. I googled and found Community of Hope. Looking at the website and reading reviews, I saw a lot of Black midwives, and thought I would feel comfortable here.”
Community of Hope has eleven midwives that support births both at Washington Hospital Center and at our free-standing birth center. This center is the only of its kind in Washington, DC. The birth center option is available for low-risk pregnancies and provides a relaxed and home-like setting for patients to give birth with minimal intervention in our two beautiful birth rooms.
When Shaquana began receiving care at Community of Hope, our providers helped her catch up on the pregnancy care she had been missing. Her pregnancy was healthy, and the only concern was monitoring for a low iron count.
A day after her 40-week appointment Shaquana went into labor. She and her husband dropped off their two older children with family around 5pm, expecting labor to go quickly. She labored at home for another 5 or so hours before her water broke. When the contractions started to get more intense, they made the decision to go to call the doula and midwife and head to the birth center.
Shaquana’s husband was pivotal in this transition. He made multiple phone calls to make sure everyone was prepared to meet Shaquana at the center. Around 12:00 AM Ebony Marcelle, Director of Midwifery, checked Shaquana’s progress and told her she was 7cm. Shaquana was surprised she was not further along, and began to question whether she had the stamina to continue without an epidural. She was expecting things to be similar to her experience birthing her second child, but this was taking longer and seemed harder.
“I was so tired, but they were really encouraging when I was at that tired stage. I remember them saying ‘Did you come here to have a baby? Then push that baby out!’” laughs Shaquana. “Being at the birth center and surrounded by Black people made me feel comfortable and safer [versus being at the hospital].”
Shaquana gave birth to Inaaya in the early hours of a Sunday morning in early April. Inaaya will always be celebrated as the first baby to be born at the new Family Health and Birth Center. She and her husband are thrilled to grow their family and feel fortunate to have found the right support at Community of Hope. “I am done having kids, but they will continue to go to FHBC for pediatric care, and I will continue to get my care there as well. We can receive all the care we need. There is no reason to go anywhere else.”
Community of Hope’s Family Heath and Birth Center has just moved to 2120 Bladensburg Rd, N.E. Its expanded space will allow us to serve more patients and provide continuing primary care for the whole family, including maternal and child health services, pediatric care, emotional wellness, pharmacy on-site (coming soon) and more. To learn how to support these services or become a patient yourself, please visit www.communityofhopedc.org.