Oak Park, IL - The first newborn cries were heard in the Birth Center at PCC, Illinois’ first free-standing birth center, as two families welcomed their babies on the rainy fall morning of October 18. Sophia Azalia, daughter of Delilah Noyola and Ivan Ramos was the first baby born at the birth center, located at PCC South Family Health Center in Berwyn. Less than one hour later, Natalia and Roberto welcomed their son, Ryland.
“I was really shocked I was the first one; I loved it!” exclaimed Noyola.
Although she knew early in her pregnancy that she wanted to deliver in the birth center, Noyola knew she needed to await the birth center’s final licensure from the Illinois Department of Health. Luckily PCC Community Wellness Center (PCC) was licensed on October 8, in time for her to labor and deliver in one of two birthing suites at the center. Each patient had access to a birthing tub, full size bed, and proficient midwifery support.
“All the midwives were really supportive. How well they took care of me will never leave my mind,” says Noyola. “Everything is going well and the experience was like no other.” Proud father, Ramos, agrees that the midwives were attentive and effectively calmed his nerves. “I truly believe that natural birth is good, and at the birth center, they have it down to a science,” says Ramos.
Both families opted for birth center deliveries because they desired natural births free of pain medications, in a home-like setting. Natalia describes the atmosphere at the birth center as warm and welcoming, for both herself and her family. “Being in the birth center helped me to connect to my baby,” remembers Natalia. “My main focus after birth was to concentrate on my baby and relax.”
The opening of the birth center comes after over 25 years of advocacy and public health initiatives in Illinois. With the support of local politicians and advocacy groups like the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, legislation was approved in 2007. Another five years passed until Rules and Regulations were finalized in 2011. Ceal Bacom, CNM, the Director of Advanced Practice Nurses and Midwifery at PCC, first introduced PCC to birth centers in 2011.
“When Ceal suggested that PCC open a birth center at PCC South Family Health Center, I knew that it would be a great fit because obstetrics has always been a significant part of PCC,” says Robert Urso, President and CEO at PCC. “Ceal’s dream became PCC’s dream.”
Bacom has long wanted to offer an out-of-hospital experience for natural birth that was available to all women. “When we relocated the health center, we were given an opportunity to offer another birth option in the spectrum of maternity care that has been long absent in Illinois,” she says. Bacom explains that there are numerous advantages to natural births and midwifery care. Midwifery care within a birth center is associated with increased natural delivery and breastfeeding rates.
Because the Birth Center at PCC is integrated into the health care system, mothers have streamlined access to physician consultation, and if needed, hospital care at nearby West Suburban Medical Center. PCC midwives and physicians have a long-established practice at the hospital and can easily support one another when additional care is required.
PCC has worked collaboratively with Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to ensure the first birth center in the state would serve as a strong model for future centers. “PCC is very excited to have established the first free-standing birth center in Illinois.” says Urso. “We recognize that our success was due in part to leadership at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the Illinois Department of Public Health, as well as our collaborative team at PCC.”