Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

Community Birth Places – New Baby Joe Urban

Dateline: 9:52 am July 22, 2010 Filed under:

Perhaps because I just witnessed the birth of my second son, I couldn’t help but notice the discussion of Birth Places in Christopher Alexander’s “A Pattern Language” (for those of you who treat A Pattern Language like the bible, Birth Places can be found in the “Book” of Towns, “Verse” 65).

It makes perfect sense – birth and death are part of life and should be any healthy community. As Alexander writes, “It seems unlikely that any process which treats childbirth as a sickness could possibly he a healthy part of a healthy society.” Therefore: “Build local birth places where women go to have their children: places that are spacially tailored to childbirth as a natural, eventul moment-where the entire family comes for prenatal care and education; where fathers and midwives help during the hours of labor and birth.”

Our son was born in a hospital, but we did hire a doula from the Childbirth Collective, and we did take prenatal education through Blooma. Those two organizations share a space with Health Foundations in St. Paul, which operates a birth center. Together these organizations provide prenatal and postnatal education, yoga, chiropractic care, acupuncture a midwifery practice and a birth center, all outside of a hospital setting – exactly what Alexander calls for in A Pattern Language.

They are popular, too. Couples come from hours away for the services provided, like from Iowa where home births are illegal. Importantly, their scale feels small, local, organic, exactly the opposite of most institutional hospital settings. My urban crystal ball tells me there will be more organizations like Blooma, the Childbirth Collective and Health Foundations in the future. They treat childbirth as something natural and wonderful, not as a sickness, and that is better for our neighborhoods and communities overall.

Shaw Kinyon Newberg was born July 18. He was 10 pounds 1 ounce and 21 inches, and healthy. I’ll be glad to share our birth story about new baby Joe Urban any time.

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