Includes a variety of resources of interest to
parents in eastern and central Massachusetts, especially the "Metro
This Guide was begun in July 2001, and has been overhauled periodically since (most recently in January 2011). Any corrections are welcome!
Informed Beginnings is a brand-new organization whose "mission is to educate and empower mothers and partners by providing current, evidence-based information for the childbearing year. We teach positive, compassionate classes that strengthen confidence in the process of birth, while respecting the diverse needs and birth plans of our students." I was one of 180 founding members, serve on the Student Curriculum and other committees, and was recently elected to the board of directors.
The Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA) offers "comprehensive, evidence-based education, certification, professional membership and training to childbirth educators ... CAPPA certified professionals aim to facilitate empowerment, connection, and self-advocacy in families from pre-conception through early parenthood."
The Boston Association for Childbirth Education (BACE) runs its own certification program for childbirth educators. (It also manages the Nursing Mothers' Council, which provides breastfeeding counseling; see "Breastfeeding" later in this resource list.)
ALACE (Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators) has since split into two organizations; the original Web site is still held by the International Birth and Wellness Project (IBWP), "designed to educate and support women and families towards a healthier pregnancy, birth, post-partum and parenting experience." (The other portion is now toLabor, which provides education for labor assistants; see the "Doulas" section.)
The International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) "supports educators and health care professionals who believe in freedom to make decisions based on knowledge of alternatives in family-centered maternity and newborn care."
Childbirth International trains educators to "support parents in making the right decisions for themselves throughout pregnancy, labor and birth - their birth, their way. We strongly believe in the benefits of a natural birth while acknowledging that sometimes interventions are necessary for the well being of both mother and baby."
The Bradley Method offers an intensive twelve-week program focused on relaxation for unmedicated birth.
Lamaze International is one of the oldest and best-known childbirth organizations, based on the Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices; these "evidence-based practices, adapted from the World Health Organization, promote, protect and support natural, safe and healthy birth."
Birth Works International, originally designed for women attempting VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarean), now addresses the needs of a wider variety of women; their mission is to help mothers "have more trust and faith in their innate ability to give birth and nurture their babies."
The Academy of Certified Birth Educators says its "goals are to actively involve parents in the prenatal, labor, birth, and postpartum periods, to enhance the childbirth experience ... and to foster the professional relationships between parents, health care professionals, hospitals, birth centers, and home birth practices."
HypnoBirthing (the Mongan Method) is "a unique method of relaxed, natural childbirth education, enhanced by self-hypnosis techniques."
The Leclaire Hypnobirthing Method "eradicates your fear, promotes relaxation, reduces stress, teaches you new and healthier beliefs, promotes bonding, allows for easy and natural childbirth."
Hypnobabies wants every mother to "eagerly [look] forward to her birthing day" and "have the easiest, safest and most comfortable childbirth experience she can."
Since 2005 there have been only two birth centers in eastern Massachusetts. (Because both are owned by their affiliated hospitals, neither is exactly "freestanding," except in the sense of being separate buildings across the street.)
The North Shore Birth Center is on the campus of Beverly Hospital in Beverly, MA; transfers are made there if necessary.
The Cambridge Birth Center, part of the Cambridge Health Alliance system, is located on the campus of Cambridge Hospital; transfers are made there if necessary. There are only three facilities designated "Baby-Friendly" (highly supportive of breastfeeding) in Massachusetts, and the Cambridge Birth Center is one of them.
There are at least three birth centers in southern New Hampshire:
The Birth Cottage is a "completely independent and free-standing birth center" in Milford; backup is done by "homebirth friendly doctors."
Monadnock Birth Center, in Swanzey, serves southern VT and NH and western Massachusetts.
The Borning Room Birth Center, in Keene, was founded in 1999 by a midwife who'd long provided homebirth services in the United Kingdom.
If you need to give birth in a hospital, recent reports available from the Department of Public Health on Massachusetts Births should be enlightening. (Caesarean rates in 2008, for example, varied from 16.2% at Heywood in Gardner to 47.4% at Caritas in Methuen.) The Harvard School of Public Health has released a report saying that yes, the difference in rates depends on the hospitals themselves, and not on the different populations they attract: "Pregnant women's likelihood of cesarean delivery in Massachusetts linked to choice of hospitals."
The local chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network, ICAN of Eastern Massachusetts, can also give you feedback about facilities and obstetricians you're considering, and tell you which are friendly to VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarean).
Note that very few facilities in Massachusetts are designated "Baby-Friendly" in terms of support for breastfeeding; the sole hospital (as of December 2010) is Boston Medical Center.
Most midwives (though not all) are strongly supportive of natural childbirth and breastfeeding. To find other midwives in our area, try:
CPMs: The Mass Midwives Alliance (the group which trained me in basic midwifery) is comprised primarily of certified professional midwives who attend home births.
Mothers Naturally, a service of the Midwives Alliance of North America, also offers a very useful Find a Midwife locator.
In the Metro West area, I can wholeheartedly recommend Joyce Kimball's Birth Services; Joyce, a CPM in Worcester, was my own instructor in my basic midwifery program. Another homebirth midwife who attends births in the Metro West area is best known for her book Silent Knife (a critical look at the Caesarean epidemic): Nancy Wainer (formerly Cohen), CPM, at Birth Day Midwifery in Needham. Other Metro West midwives I know and feel comfortable recommending include Miriam Atma Khalsa, Alexis Topham and Carol Mathewson, and Dina Fraize.
CNMs: Massachusetts Midwives is affiliated with the American College of Nurse-Midwives, and has a fairly comprehensive list of CNM practices — though no direct links. Both birth centers in Mass. are also run by certified nurse-midwives; see "Birth centers" on this resource list.
Massachusetts Friends of Midwives is "a non-profit organization working to promote and protect the rights of all midwives and the women and families who birth with them." MFOM's Birth Resources Directory is a detailed guide to many area midwives, doulas, childbirth educators, and other local professionals.
The situation in Rhode Island is much dicier — Certified Professional Midwives and lay midwives are officially not allowed to attend home births. For more information, see the Rhode Island Home Birth Collective and Rhode Island Midwives.
Doulas help women or couples through labor and birth. These organizations train and certify doulas, and provide referrals to doulas who have trained with them:
toLabor (The Organization of Labor Assistants for Birth Options & Resources) is the group that trained me; its referrals to Massachusetts doulas, however, are somewhat out of date.
DONA International (formerly Doulas of North America) also trains/certifies doulas, and provides referrals to local doulas.
Many childbirth-education organizations train doulas as well as childbirth educators, including:
Another organization focusing on traditional midwifery, the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC), runs a doula program which specializes in training African-American doulas.
The quickest way to find leads on doulas in Massachusetts is via DoulaMatch.net; my own profile is here. You can also try FindaDoula.com and DoulaNetwork.com.
Supportive obstetricians in our area, other than those associated with midwifery practices, are difficult to find.
The Massachusetts obstetrician with the most glowing reputation is Beth R. Hardiman, MD, who sees patients in Cambridge — and even she has had at least one backup OB with a dubious reputation. (Also, she's not terribly local for Metro West moms, since she attends births at Brigham & Women's.) Another OB who comes highly recommended is Bindiya Stancampiano, MD, whose office is in Watertown.
If you know of a wonderful, natural-birth-supportive OB in the Metro West area, please let me know!
Interested in Webster technique for turning a breech or otherwise positioning a baby? The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association has a list of practitioners certified in this technique. One whom I know personally is my neighbor Evan Hughes, DC, CSP, who practices in Concord (and is himself a homebirth-friendly dad).
Erin Sweeney (Waltham) was one of my midwifery classmates and is a thoroughly awesome person as well as a massage therapist with plenty of pregnant-mom experience.
For a list of some massage therapists in Mass. who say they specialize in pregnancy, see this directory at Healthprofs.com.
A good place to start is an article called "What is genetic counseling?"
Genetic counselors practice at most of the major teaching hospitals in Boston — including Beth Israel/Deaconess, Brigham and Womens, Children's, and Mass General — and at some independent offices in the surrounding area. For current listings, try the National Society of Genetic Counselors' "Find a Genetic Counselor" directory.
Other genetic resources:
The Boston University School of Medicine runs a Center for Human Genetics which offers various genetic counseling services.
The National Birth Defects Center (NBDC; now the Feingold Center for Children) "provides diagnosis and treatment to children born with birth defects, genetic diseases and mental retardation... Genetic counseling is offered to prospective parents who are concerned about the possibility of genetic diseases occurring in their children." If you have been referred for genetic counseling, you can call them to schedule an appointment, or they can arrange genetic counseling at a center better for you.
For other general genetic counseling resources, browse this very thorough page.