Local Birth Centers vs Hospitals: Making the Right Choice for Your Birth in Eugene and Springfield

pregnant woman on couch looking at laptop

Congratulations! You’re pregnant! Cue the rush of emotions, and maybe a bit of overwhelm. So much to look forward to, so many choices to make! One of the biggest decisions you will make in your pregnancy journey is where you will give birth. Thankfully, the Eugene and Springfield area has many options to choose from.

Hospital? Birth center? Home birth? How will you decide where to give birth?

4 photographs of birkth centers. 3 external buildings, 1 interior of room.

Let’s talk through each option for your place of birth and see what feels right for you. (Today we are covering hospitals and birth centers, and home birth midwives will be a topic for another day.)

The key thing to remember is that you should give birth in a place that feels like safety to you. The hormonal process of birth itself is best fostered in an environment where you feel safe. For some Eugene area families, what feels like safety is being in a hospital with everything ready at hand in case of an emergency. For others, safety feels like their own home with a trusted midwife, or in a birth center with a homey environment and a midwife.

Giving birth at a Springfield, Oregon hospitals

Most people in our Eugene & Springfield community give birth in the hospital, so we’ll talk about those options first. There are 2 hospital options here, both of them in Springfield. PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center Riverbend or McKenzie Willamette Medical Center. As a doula, I’ve attended many births at each of these hospitals and have seen my clients have positive experiences in both. Both hospitals have tubs in their labor and delivery rooms and use wireless and waterproof monitors which allow you to labor in the tub. Neither hospital offers a water birth option, so you will be instructed to get out of the tub when you show signs of pushing. There are also some key differences between them.

McKenzie Willamette Medical Center is located near downtown Springfield, on Mohawk Boulevard, and happens to be where both my husband and I were born! McKenzie Willamette has a smaller labor and delivery unit with a smaller staff. In this hospital, you will be in the same room for your entire stay, each room has a mini fridge for your convenience, and with a smaller staff, you may have more opportunities to develop connections with your care team. Oregon Medical Group doctors deliver at McKenzie Willamette.

Sacred Heart Riverbend is a larger and newer facility that includes a NICU. For families with higher-risk pregnancies, the NICU may be a deciding factor for where they will give birth. Other considerations at Riverbend are that with a larger staff, you may have interactions with a greater number of nurses and doctors over the course of your stay. Also, they have separate triage, labor, and mom and baby rooms. Typically if you go to the hospital in spontaneous labor, you will start in a triage room and spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours there before you are moved to a labor and delivery room, where you will be until the birth of your baby. Roughly 2 hours after the birth, you will transfer to a mother/baby room on the same floor and finish out your stay in that room. Women’s Care doctors deliver at Sacred Heart Riverbend. Women’s Care also offers midwifery care in the hospital.

If you have a low-risk pregnancy, but still want to birth in the hospital, you may consider care with the Women’s Care midwives.

Giving birth at a Springfield, Oregon birth centers

We now have 2 independent birth centers, both of them also in Springfield. These birth centers offer Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) care in a relaxed, calming atmosphere that is not your home. Midwives prioritize low-intervention, natural childbirth experiences while ensuring safety for both mother and baby. They have tools and expertise should an emergency arise, and protocols to transfer to a hospital in the event that hospital care is necessary. They can provide prescriptions as necessary, as well as do labs and ultrasounds. They also offer ongoing well-woman care for when you are no longer within the perinatal period. Midwives offer a more holistic approach to birth, taking into account the emotional and psychological well-being of the expectant mother. Midwives in birth centers offer postpartum care that extends beyond the immediate birth experience and includes home visits for you and baby so in those first days after birth you’re not having to pack up and head to the pediatrician’s office – and let me tell you, when you’re still figuring out breastfeeding and life with a newborn, still sore and recovering from birth, and you haven’t slept, not leaving the house is a GIFT!

The Oregon Birth & Wellness Center (also known as Eden Midwifery and Wellness) is located at the intersection of Gateway and Beltline, near the Gateway Mall and close to Riverbend Hospital. This center has 2 birthing suites, both with large tubs. People consistently remark on the beauty and wonderful atmosphere of this birth center.

Our Community Birth Center is located in the Island Park Professional Center off of West B street in downtown Springfield. This center is nestled in the trees next to Island Park and also offers 2 birth suites with tubs.

Choosing between Hospital and Birth Center

When choosing between giving birth at a Eugene or Springfield area hospital and a birth center, start with the question of what feels like safety to you. Then tour (or video tour) the options that appeal to you, make sure to ask questions, and see how you’re feeling. If you are still struggling to decide, contact our agency and we can help you talk through your questions and concerns – not as a way of steering you in one direction or another, but sometimes it helps to speak with a knowledgeable guide who can help you clarify the direction you want to go. Then of course you’ll choose a care provider (midwife? doctor? …but that’s a whole other post, so stay tuned!

Best wishes to you for a safe and satisfying birth!

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Tiffany Grantom Doula

by Tiffany Grantom, Founder

Tiffany has been a birth doula for over six years, and a childbirth educator for ten. She became a Spinning Babies® Certified Parent Educator in 2019. Tiffany is passionate about preparing families to understand their options and to feel supported and empowered to make the right choices for them.