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Natural Awakenings Atlanta


Since opening in July, the nonprofit Atlanta Childbirth Center (ABC), the city’s first and only natural childbirth center, has already delivered about 100 babies. It offers naturopathic medicine, chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage therapy, lactation and nutrition counseling, and women’s support groups, along with a full array of gynecologic and obstetric services. Many of their support groups are free.

ABC is a sanctuary that nurtures the lives of women and their families by providing a continuum of family-centered, holistic care surrounding the childbearing experience. The cost of giving birth at the center starts at $4,500, which covers all prenatal visits, labor, birth and postpartum care, including three home visits. Additional services can be added as needs arise, such as IV fluids, acupuncture and massage therapy.

The center’s rooms emulate the cozy feel of home, with large and comfortable furniture and queen-size beds. Birthing tubs are available for water births, and entire families may attend. Certified nurse midwives perform the deliveries, and mothers are encouraged to let nature take its course by following their bodies’ urges to get in the water, take a shower, use a labor ball, squat or to go for walks in order to have the most comfortable labor experience possible. Soft music, art and dim lighting provide ambiance for the sacred event.

“We believe in the magic of washcloths; chilled, sprinkled with lavender oil and gently wiped across the sweaty forehead of a woman working so hard,” says Crystal Bailey, an ABC certified nurse midwife. “Of all the things we midwives do for you in labor, we are often remembered by this simple moment.”

ABC accepts donations through the Community Guardian Fund to make family-centered and evidence-based care accessible to all. Up to 15 percent of their patients include homeless women, refugees, teens, uninsured and Medicaid-eligible women. “We have simply done the births for free lately, as there is no money in the fund,” says ABC Business Manager Samantha Brooks.

The ABC philosophy is that women have been giving birth for thousands of years, generally without complication. The center’s literature states that over the last 100 years, advances in medicine have enabled invaluable intervention when complications arise, but the exception has now become the norm. Nearly every pregnancy and birth is treated like an illness or emergency requiring intervention, which actually increases risk and cost. The ABC midwifery model of care honors the body’s time-tested ability to do what it does best while providing advanced clinical care only when it makes sense.

Brooks points to the center’s rapid discharge rate and high satisfaction rating. “The holistic model of care affects birth outcomes,” she says. “Many patients who have experienced giving birth in both a hospital and at the birth center describe the natural birth process a redeeming experience.”

“I remember Crystal reminded me to relax my forehead, and then looked me straight in the eye and said calmly, but firmly, ‘You can do this.’ I took a deep breath, and in my heart, I believed her,” says Leslie Gottfried, who gave birth to her daughter, Lynlee, at ABC in July.

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