Atlanta Medical Center, previously known as Georgia Baptist Hospital, is a teaching hospital that has served Atlanta, Georgia since 1901. Located on Boulevard, not far from Ponce de Leon and 75/85, it is convenient for many in Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs. AMC, as it is often referred to, has the ability to heliport patients in and out and has a level III NICU. The labor and delivery department has many draws including the option of midwives and the support of water immersion during labor AND birth. While many Atlanta area birth facilities offer hydrotherapy in labor, AMC is only 1 of 3 in the area that currently offers water birth as an option. If you choose AMC for the opportunity of water birth it is important to note that not all of the obstetricians on staff support waterbirths so you will want to check with your chosen practice to confirm their participation.
When you arrive at AMC you can park in the parking deck. Many of the parking spaces on the first 2 levels are reserved for physicians, veterans, and handicap parking which means that you may have to go up multiple levels to find an available space. There is an elevator bank on each end of the parking deck. You will want to note your arrival time because from 9:00pm-6:00am the main hospital doors are locked and everyone must enter through the Emergency Department. If you arrive during those hours parking closer to the elevators near the medical office building will mean less walking to get to the Emergency Room entrance. If you are arriving during the day you can park closer to the spiral exit ramp as those elevators are closer to the main entrance of the hospital. No matter where you enter, once you are in the building there will be a security guard/ concierge to help direct you to the elevators. Labor and Delivery is on level 7. When you arrive on the floor you will notice a large waiting area for family and friends. This room has many chairs, though they are not very comfortable, and some vending machines. The waiting area is often chilly so anyone staying in the waiting area for very long may wish to bring a jacket or even a small blanket.
Once you have arrived in labor and delivery you will likely be shown to a triage room to be evaluated. These rooms are not very spacious but are larger than triage rooms at some other facilities. Each triage room does have a full private bathroom which is a nice addition to help with the privacy and comfort of the laboring mother and her birth partner. As with many hospitals it is policy that a 20 minute monitoring of fetal heart tones be done upon arrival. The standard policy is also that every patient have a hep-lock placed for labs to be drawn and as IV access for fluids, medications, etc. as needed. While it depends somewhat on your attending physician, many moms do successfully decline this intervention and the nurses are typically very friendly and accommodating in this regard. You can talk to your OB, Midwife, and/or doula about the pros and cons of having a hep-lock to decide what is best for you and your baby.
Once it is determined that you are being admitted you will be moved to a labor and delivery room. These rooms are larger than the triage rooms though not as large as the L&D rooms at many other facilities. If you are able to, request a room on the outside hallway (rooms 6-12) as they have a lovely view of the city that makes an amazing focal point/distraction for a laboring mom especially if birthing at night.
The nurses at AMC tend to be friendly and knowledgeable. They enjoy supporting natural birth plans but are also able to discuss the pros and cons of interventions that you may want and/or need throughout labor and birth. The nurses are welcoming to doulas and actively seek to work with a mom’s doula, recognizing the value that they bring to the birthing experience. Many of the nurses are compassionate and go above and beyond to help the patients feel comfortable and well cared for. One example of this is that most shifts will save a few sandwiches and fruit bowls from lunch and dinner that day so that if a mom births during the night she and her partner will be able to eat something substantial soon after rather than having to wait until the cafeteria serves breakfast or local restaurants open.
AMC tends to follow many of the “Baby Friendly” protocols including immediate skin to skin, observing the “golden hour”, encouraging rooming in, and honoring parents’ wishes for their baby’s medications, tests, etc. One thing that AMC does not do is allow doulas into the OR should a surgical birth become necessary. This is a relatively new rule and is said to be a part of Wellstar Corporate policy as Wellstar recently purchased AMC from Tenet. Depending on how busy the recovery room is they do often allow doulas in after surgery though that typically takes the support of the attending physician to facilitate.
There are multiple options for eating during your time at AMC as one advantage to birthing in the middle of a major city is the close proximity to many restaurants. Everything from fast food to pizza to traditional southern cuisine to vegetarian/vegan options are within a short drive. Many are even available on Uber Eats or have their own delivery service. You can also take advantage of the cafeteria located within the hospital and the Chick Fil A, Blimbie, and deli shop in the medical office building located near the emergency department and the parking deck.
After you have birthed and the initial bonding and newborn exam is completed you will be moved to a postpartum room. This is typically about 2 hours after birth but could be as soon as 1 hour or as long as 3-4 hours depending on the nurse shift changes and how busy L&D and postpartum are at that time. These postpartum rooms are average size and décor as far as hospital rooms go. There is lactation support available on the postpartum floor though some moms have complained that there are not enough lactation specialists to see moms quick enough or often enough prior to being discharged, typically about 24 hours after an uncomplicated vaginal delivery. Many partners have also mentioned that their sleeping accommodations were not ideal and have recommended bringing a small air mattress or inflatable pool float to sleep on.
Overall Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center is a great option for birthing women in the Atlanta area. If you are seeking a waterbirth, the midwifery model of care, or want to have access to birth choice supportive nurses, AMC may be a good fit for you. If you are considering AMC you can attend a tour of the facilities and schedule interviews with the doctors and midwives that are on staff there. Some of the practices even have regularly scheduled meet and greets for expecting parents to come and meet all of their practitioners at one time.