Atlanta Birth Center
Atlanta-area women would travel long distances to receive prenatal, postnatal and primary care from Anjli Aurora Hinman, CNM, MPH, FNP-BC, and her mentor, Margaret Strickhouser, CNM, MS, at their midwifery practice within a physician’s office. When the physician closed that service in 2009, Anjli followed Margaret, who had a strong patient following that spanned generations, when she opened Intown Midwifery, one of the only midwife-led clinics in metropolitan Atlanta. Within six weeks, the practice contracted with a collaborating physician and attained clinical privileges at the nearby hospital, Atlanta Medical Center.
Business boomed immediately. The high demand and enthusiasm of community volunteers have led to plans to establish the Atlanta Birth Center by 2013.
“Support of normal birth with low intervention is hard to find,” says Anjli, adding that midwives’ holistic approach has been shown to lower rates of infant mortality, prematurity, low-birth weight infants and Cesarean section births, and increase rates of breast-feeding and positive birth experiences. “Patients were telling us daily that Atlanta needs a birth center. It quickly became much bigger than the providers and patients in our practice; it has become a movement in the community. We were seen as leaders because we were providing that care.”
The Atlanta Birth Center is planned as an independent, integrated care model that will bring together a network of providers to care for women and families who “guide the ship.” The center will provide primary care and connect patients to a range of services from pediatrics and mental health to acupuncture and chiropractic care.
Anjli and Margaret’s model of care at the Intown Midwifery practice has had an impact at their hospital. Water births are now an option for women, doulas are part of more births, and healthy newborns now are allowed to have minimal separation and be assessed while staying with their mothers from birth until discharge. The practice has added four more midwives and also begun training midwifery students to ensure this type of care continues for the future.
“I believe in transformative change because I see it in birth and the women I care for every day,” Anjli says. “I hear from women their fears and hesitations about birth and becoming a parent, and to see women rise past those fears, climb their highest mountains, and let go and trust the process is truly inspiring. Birth matters, and I believe the way a child is brought into the world has an important impact on the rest of life. Helping with that transition is an honor.”