An expectant mother’s typical check-up at her OB/GYN calls to mind images of a crowded waiting room with magazines from 1997, cold examination tables, white lab coats and stirrups.
That’s why it’s a bit of a shock when you first walk into Authentic Birth Wellness Collective in Wauwatosa. At first glance, the space at 530 N. 108th Pl. looks more like a spa than a birthing center, with walls of calm, cool beige, soft lighting, hardwood floors, futons with bright throw pillows – and not a stirrup in sight.
It’s hard to describe Authentic Birth Wellness Collective, which will hold its grand opening event on Oct. 12. It’s a natural birthing center, but it’s also a holistic cooperative with practitioners specializing in a variety of areas.
Authentic is the brainchild of longtime Wisconsin midwife LaNette McQuitty. McQuitty began working as a doula in 1980, becoming a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) in 2010, shortly after the State of Wisconsin began offering that license.
She holds an Associate of Science degree in Midwifery and completed a residency program working with the tribes of Malawi. She is also a mother of four and credits the physical act of giving birth with emotionally preparing her to be a mother.
"I had amazing births that taught me that birth really transforms women," she says. "It empowers them to be parents – because parenting is the hard part. Birthing them is easier than parenting!"
Now with Authentic, McQuitty hopes to empower other women amazing births. She wants pregnant women– as well as their families – to realize the options that are open to them and to achieve the goals she has for her pregnancy and birth.
"Not everybody that comes here will want to or should birth here," she says. "But everybody that comes here hopefully desires and will receive an opportunity to learn about options – whether that’s options here or options out in the community or options in the hospital setting.
"Our goal is not to have every mom birth here. Our goal is to have every mom get the care they deserve with respect, and to achieve some of her goals that she has for her birth experience and for her family."
McQuitty and her dedicated team managed to prepare the space at Authentic in just two and a half months. The 8,000-square foot facility is divided into two sections, with a "birth side" and a "wellness side."
The birth side features three expansive birthing suites with 800-thread count sheets on the bed. Above every bed and tub is a glittering, star-filled night sky created with fiber-optic lights in the ceiling.
"We just want moms to feel so pampered," she said. "This is a special, precious time. We want families to feel love from every aspect."
But Authentic isn’t just for moms and babies. Chiropractor Dr. Amy Elliott has an office there, as well (McQuitty attended her last birth), along with family nurse practitioner Cherri Schleicher, an aroma therapist, massage therapist, Chinese medicine specialist and acupuncturist, prenatal educators, lactation consultants, fitness coaches and a holistic health expert.
Their large gathering space already has a jam-packed programming schedule, with everything from pregnant, postpartum and senior bellydancing classes, to body art, to yoga and more.
The idea at Authentic is that each birth is unique, and each mom will need something different during this time. That’s why there’s a lot of room for walking around, large tubs for water births and bathrooms with handheld showerheads.
After birth, mothers stay in the center as long as they want, typically anywhere from six to 12 hours because the center doesn’t offer food (although Mo’s Irish Pub is right next door, and it’s become a popular take-out options for families at Authentic).
Some mothers will want to stay for their 24-hour check-up with their midwife, although if they do choose to go home before that, the midwife will make a home visit.
"We want women to labor like they want to, instinctually," McQuitty said. "Our instinct tells us what’s best for labor and we allow that to play out."