Labor to Love

Two ECU nursing graduates are giving soon-to-be moms a natural alternative to a hospital delivery room.

Marcia Ensminger ’05 and Nicole Winecoff ’11 opened Natural Beginnings Birth & Wellness Center in Statesville in 2008. Nearly 90% of the 20-30 births their center performs each month are water births, in which the mother gives birth in a tub of warm water.

Certified nurse midwives Marcia Ensminger ’05, left, and Nicole Winecoff ’11 own Natural Beginnings Birth & Wellness Center in Statesville.

Certified nurse midwives Marcia Ensminger ’05, left, and Nicole Winecoff ’11 own Natural Beginnings Birth & Wellness Center in Statesville.

Water births at the center are done without pain medications and without intervention.

Ensminger emphasized that water birth candidates are women with low-risk pregnancies that follow a normal pattern. During labor, babies are monitored using a fetal doppler for intermittent fetal monitoring in the same way low-risk pregnancies would be monitored in a hospital, Winecoff said. If complications arise, the mothers are helped out of the water for closer observation and taken to the center’s official transferring hospital, Davis Regional Medical Center, if necessary.

Not only can the water provide a soothing effect to the mother, it also helps in the delivery process.

“Whereas on land we’re kind of helping to guide baby out and catching the baby, in the water we don’t do that,” Ensminger said. “We let the water kind of catch the baby and then usually moms just pick the baby up on their own and bring them to their chests. A lot of times we’re just sitting there and watching and making sure everything is going as it should, making sure everything is safe and that if there are any complications we can step in and help out.”

“The water does a lot of our work for them,” Winecoff agreed. “When they’re out of the water we have to do quite a bit more hands-on — give them back pressure or hip squeezes — there’s a lot more touching. But in the water, usually they’re able to relax more so they may not need as much of that hands-on support.”

The birthing center was borne out of Ensminger and Winecoff’s close working relationship and rising demand for more midwives in the area. The parents-to-be whom Ensminger and Winecoff encounter are interested in more natural birth plans in a comfortable setting.

“I think as women are trying to look at other options for their health care, they’re looking at the more low-intervention practices with really good outcomes, better statistics,” Winecoff said.

“Our patients are all low risk, and they really believe that their bodies were meant to have babies naturally without any interventions,” Ensminger said. “So, they prefer to come to an out-of-hospital site where we don’t use interventions very often unless it’s an emergency situation. They feel like this is a natural process and if everything is normal and healthy then we should just let nature take its course.”