ROYAL OAK — Between the birth of his oldest child 47 years ago and his youngest 16 months ago, Peter Karmanos has seen firsthand how drastically the process of having a child has changed.
At a Nov. 4 press conference, the former CEO of Compuware recalled not even being allowed in the delivery room back in the 1960s.
With his youngest child, his wife, Danialle Karmanos, opted for a natural birth — a holistic, drug-free approach to labor.
“I tell that story because the experience was so much different, and so much better for the mother and also for the father, because I was able to be there every step of the way,” Peter Karmanos said.
Like Danialle and Peter Karmanos, more and more parents are choosing to give natural birthing a chance.
Dr. Ray Bahado-Singh, chairman of the obstetrics/gynecology department at Beaumont Health System, said 17 percent of women undergoing labor did not take medicine.
“That is a very significant percentage of women,” he said.
With that trend, Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak announced its Center for Natural Birth, which is expected to open by the end of 2014. A $5-million gift from the Karmanos family will make it possible.
The aim of the new center will be to provide a comfortable environment within the confines of a hospital, providing a safety net if something throughout labor would require medical intervention.
“This project is really about supporting expectant mothers who feel a natural child birth is the right choice,” Danialle Karmanos said.
Bahado-Singh said the center will increase the choices for soon-to-be mothers.
“The Karmanos’ gift will dramatically expand the birth options at Beaumont,” he said.
Even if a completely natural birth is not possible for a mother, Bahado-Singh said some of the techniques can still be offered.
When completed, the Center for Natural Birth will be 3,225 square feet and include four birthing suites with a walking path for laboring mothers, a nursing station, waiting area and rooftop garden, according to a press release.
The rooms themselves will include Jacuzzi tubs and patient-care teams trained in natural childbirth techniques.
Jaala Holt, 28, has had both her children naturally at Beaumont Hospital.
She said she preferred to be alert throughout the labor instead of groggy, which epidural drugs tend to make mothers. She was also concerned with potential side effects of the drugs.
The pain was excruciating throughout her delivery, she said, but the nurses massaged feet, back and hips, which released endorphins and helped to dull the pain.
“I was willing to try anything because I was in so much pain — just no drugs,” Holt said while holding her 5-week-old baby, Kyla.
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