Friday, November 14, 2008

Birth center's possible demise ignites protest

A proposal to cease all deliveries at the North Shore Birth Center in Beverly - one of only two hospital-affiliated centers statewide that offer natural birth options - has ignited a passionate protest from women across the region.

With a debate and potential vote by Beverly Hospital's board of trustees expected Tuesday morning, women have been picketing the hospital, circulating fliers, writing letters to board members, blogging and organizing on Facebook, where more than 500 members have already signed on to the campaign.

The center's nurse-midwives, operating out of a cozy, homelike bungalow on the grounds of Beverly Hospital, have helped deliver more than 6,000 babies since the facility opened in 1980.

Unlike a hospital setting offering drugs to induce labor and control pain and machines to monitor the process, the center features a Jacuzzi or tub for labor and delivery, holistic approaches to pain management, and a kitchen, living room, garden, and deck encouraging family and friends to gather and participate in the birth.