By Gina V. Ramsey
The birth of a child is equal parts miraculous and natural, anxious and joyful. “The scariness comes from not being educated regarding your options,” said Meredith Bowling, co-owner of the Long Beach Birthing Center. “The more educated you become, the less fear there is, and the more comfortable you become.” Meredith, who is a trained doula and childbirth educator, dreamt of offering the community an alternative to hospital births, where the noisy, bright and commotion-filled atmosphere may add to the anxiety of expectant parents.
When the opportunity to open a natural birthing facility presented itself, Meredith set aside the plans she had to continue her education in midwifery and all things childbirth and jumped at the chance! The Long Beach Birthing Center opened its doors in November 2021, the only stand-alone birth center in the city. “I always wanted to have a birthing center,” said Meredith who operates the center along with her co-owner, Liz Medina-Bowling.
The Birthing Center is a serene, homey facility with two rooms equipped to provide a natural birth experience for all low-risk pregnancies. Each room provides the comfort of a spacious bedroom, from its warm décor to the large bathtub where many parents choose to give birth. “Water is a comfort measure,” Meredith said. “We provide a warm bath for those who want to have a water birth, or mothers can deliver wherever they are led. A doula or mid-wife is with them every step of the way [from prenatal to postpartum care], providing comfort and support.”
Natural birth starts with having a ‘natural birth mentality,’ said Meredith. It is less invasive and there are fewer interventions than in a hospital. However, in the event of an emergency, the Center is ready to transport a parent to the proper facility.
Since opening, the Center has had the honor of assisting in 80 births. It currently has eight staff members, all of whom are either doulas, mid-wives, registered nurses, or a combination of the aforementioned. Meredith’s own childbirth experiences are what led her to the world of natural birth. Although she had both her children in a hospital, she opted to have her second without the intervention of medicine. “It was amazing,” she said. “[Before the birth] I learned a lot of other comfort measures, all of which are available to every expectant parent. A lot of the fear of childbirth is based on dramatic television scenes.”
Realizing that there is no such thing as ‘one-size fits all,’ the Center is prepared to assist each expectant parent in their own unique birthing experience when the time comes. From the quiet meditative woman, to the animalistic expressions of another, they have seen it all. And, says Meredith, “It is all okay.’
For a prospective client, the journey starts with an initial consultation when a pregnancy is anticipated. Once the Center confirms a pregnancy in their office, the client is provided with prenatal care and supported throughout the gestation period with check-ups. The Center provides educational classes in childbirth, breastfeeding, postpartum, and newborn care. In the future, Meredith hopes to incorporate other services that are community oriented. “We want to be a place that anyone can come to a support group for services such as lactation consultations, not restrict these to just people who give birth here,” she said.
The Birthing Center aims to be the destination of choice for a comforting, safe and secure childbirth in Long Beach. Women who have given birth at the Center rave about it. Breana gave birth to her second son in June and had a great experience. “Solid birth support is essential to achieving an unmedicated birth,” she wrote in her review. “The Birth Center will always have a special place in my heart.”
Long Beach Birthing Center
1224 E Wardlow Rd, Long Beach, CA 90808 (562) 912-4421