GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Come summer, there will be another care option for women birthing babies.
The former Walker Drugstore, 2241 Seventh St., is in the process of being transformed into a birth center, where certified nurse-midwife Patty Kandiko intends to give women the option of birthing in a homelike environment with emergency medical equipment available if needed.
Kandiko, who's in the process of interviewing pregnant women who are considering the birth center option, said she hopes to open Bloomin' Babies Birth Center in July.
The mother of three gave birth without drugs in a hospital years ago, and worked as a nurse for nearly 40 years before returning to school to study midwifery.
"I wanted to be a midwife from the beginning," Kandiko said. "I finally took the leap a few years ago at age 57, to go back to school. I worked in a birth center as a nurse and fell in love with the concept."
"There's always going to be women wishing for a less (medically) interventive birth. That's what a birth center provides. I think it's important for people to have that option."
Drugs for pain relief are not an option at birth centers. Instead, birth center midwives and nurses encourage the use of non-pharmaceutical methods for dealing with labor contractions.
Those measures include immersing oneself in a tub of warm water, changing positions and moving around, and enlisting the help of a labor support person, or doula.
"There's all kinds of research that shows just having a support person throughout labor is a huge help," Kandiko said. "Doulas (professional labor assistants) are fantastic.
"I can be that doula or support person."
A small minority of women who are considered "high risk" are precluded from delivering babies at a birth center.
"Each time we meet with a woman we do a risk assessment," Kandiko said.
Clients must be healthy and low risk. Contra-indications include high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia and multiple births.
Mesa Midwives, a nurse-midwifery practice at St. Mary's Hospital, has verbally agreed to care for Birth Center clients who "risk out" by developing conditions that require a hospital birth.
Kandiko graduated last year from Frontier Nursing University in Hyden, Ky. - one of the oldest and well-known midwifery schools in the country. During her training, Kandiko caught 40-some babies; she's attended 10 to 20 additional births since then, she said.
"Our thesis project for graduation was 'how to start a birth center,'" where nurse-midwifery students learn to write a business plan, and conduct a market analysis for opening up a new birth center.
"Birth centers are a safe option for women. They're a good option for women," Kandiko said.
Bloomin' Babies Birth Center will include two large birthing rooms, two exam rooms and a "swing" room that can be used as either an exam or birthing room if needed. The birth center will also include classroom space for childbirth education classes and a kitchen area for families to bring food, make tea and relax, Kandiko said.
"We're trying to make it as homey as possible," she added.
Most insurance companies cover birth center births, Kandiko said.
Bloomin' Babies Birth Center will be the first to open on the Western Slope, and the second free-standing birth center in Colorado. The other one is located in Englewood. Call 920-279-4545 for more info.