Spectrum Health touts ‘patient-centered’ birthing suites

spectrum health natural birthing suites
A natural birthing suite at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital. (May 16, 2017)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — More and more, expectant mothers are taking back control in the delivery room. Many women are opting for home births, doulas and midwives instead of a delivery room.

Andrea and Adam Gunnett of Kentwood were emotional as they returned to the room at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital where they first met their daughter Cheyenne.

“It almost tears me up being back in this room because it was so positive,” Andrea Gunnett recalled.

At first glance, the natural birthing suite looks like it might be their bedroom. All the comforts of home provided the type of atmosphere these first-time parents were looking for.

“It seemed like a good compromise, too. At first we talked about a home birth and that made me a little nervous. It was kind of the halfway between home birth and full-up doctors everywhere and monitors and stuff,” Adam Gunnett said.

“There is a demand for this within the community. This is what women want. They want natural birth. They want this home-like environment. It offers us the opportunity to partner with them in a way we haven’t been able to before,” said Katie McNabnay, the senior project specialist for Women’s and Infant Services at Spectrum.

There are more than 8,000 deliveries at Butterworth Hospital each year and the Spectrum Health system has more than 10,000 total. Butterworth Hospital delivers more babies than any other hospital else in the state and ranks sixth in the country for number of deliveries.

McNabnay said Spectrum has always honored natural birth and the two natural birthing suites are the newest ways it is working with patients and families.

“It’s about patient-centered care and meeting the patient where they want to be and honoring choice,” she said.

The Gunnetts chose to have a doula, midwife, nurse and Andrea’s mother in the room during Cheyenne’s birth. Andrea Gunnett said that even with that crowd, it never felt cramped and she appreciated having space to move and change position while she labored.

“This space we were in just gave us the comfort of home and let my labor progress like it should and we had a great experience and a great delivery,” Gunnett said.

The first natural birthing suite at Spectrum Butterworth opened in October and the second in December.

The suites aren’t going to be for everyone. Spectrum Butterworth lists the following criteria:

  • No pre-existing or pregnancy conditions.
  • Complete natural childbirth preparation with provider and orientation.
  • Agree to be transferred to a traditional labor and delivery room if needed.
  • Wherever you deliver, our labor and delivery team will work in collaboration with your provider to support your desire to have the most natural birth possible.

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Spectrum Health Natural Birthing Suites