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  • Ann Sober (right), founder and center director of Special Beginnings, joined staff member Joanne Hasman, certified nurse midwife, in blowing out the candles on a 20th birthday cake in honor of Special Beginnings’ anniversary.
    Ann Sober (right), founder and center director of Special Beginnings, joined staff member Joanne Hasman, certified nurse midwife, in blowing out the candles on a 20th birthday cake in honor of Special Beginnings’ anniversary.

Special Beginnings Has Offered Alternative Childbirth Options For 20 Years

Dylan Roche
View Bio
August 10, 2017

A little more than 20 years ago, Nurse Ann Sober met a midwife and realized that she wasn’t alone in her philosophy on childbirth. “From the time I walked into Labor & Delivery, I didn’t think it was right,” she said. “I had my own children in the hospital and was not satisfied with the experience.”

She — like the midwife she met — believed childbirth should not be a medical event. “Why are they making it a medical event for everybody?” she asked herself. “Yes, for some people, it is a medical event, and the evolution of medicine has improved maternal and newborn outcomes, but not enough to qualify using every single medical technique for every single laboring woman.”

Sober traveled to New York to see a birthing center, and within six months, she had opened Special Beginnings Birth and Women’s Center in Maryland. Over the years, the alternative path for pregnancy care and childbearing has become a more prevalent and popular choice, allowing Sober and her team to reach more people with each passing year.

“In our first year we had 68 births,” she said. “Now, we’re doing approximately 500 births a year.”

With a staff of certified nurse midwives, Special Beginnings specializes in comprehensive prenatal care, childbirth classes, labor and birth, postnatal care and other general gynecological services. Sober emphasizes that choosing a birth center — which emulates home pregnancy in one of its onsite, home-like stay rooms — instead of a hospital is not for everyone, particularly those who need special medical care, but she wants to see options be available. “For those who believe childbirth is a normal bodily function, this is a good option for them,” she said.

Every year, Special Beginnings celebrates its anniversary on Mother’s Day weekend, but 2017 was particularly exciting because it marked the 20th year the center has been in business. Anticipating a large crowd, Sober held the party at Kinder Farm Park, where families she has served over the years were able to come out and commemorate the milestone. Despite dreary weather, the event drew more than 100 attendees.

Sober credits the center’s growth to the positive experience that many of her clients have and the word of mouth that creates. “People do find us on the web, and we do some public advertising, but the majority of patients come because they know someone who delivered here and had a very positive experience,” she said.

Though she is happy with the growth, Sober now has her sights set on maintaining her numbers so that she can, in turn, maintain her quality of care. “When we get past a certain number, they don’t have that personal attention and connection that we want to have with our clients,” she said.

She encourages those who are interested in Special Beginnings to visit or to find and like “Special Beginnings Birth and Women's Center” on Facebook. It just might be the right option for their family. “I believe that birth centers are growing,” she said. “There are about 300 around the country. … I think that entry-level care is going to be birth-center-type care, so that those women who are normal will be able to have a relatively normal experience, and those who need more complex care will be stratified to that higher level.”

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