Patient voices: Learning from a first birth experience

When Suraj and Salina Kalyanmasih were preparing for the birth of their first child, four years ago, they did what a lot of young couples do; they made an appointment for Salina with an obstetric physician. When it came time to give birth, they opted for the hospital setting. They welcomed a healthy baby boy and are grateful for that….

Taking a chance on something different

Almost two years later, Suraj and Salina found they were expecting a second baby. This time they decided to take a leap of faith and pursue a more natural approach through a birth center.

Beginning with the prenatal office visits through labor, they felt that the birth center was right for them. “The biggest difference was the midwives; they are deliberate and intentional in their work. They really take the time to listen and answer questions,” said Salina. Suraj added, “They are experts and it gave us confidence.”

“Our model of care puts the patient in control – we never take the patient out of the process,” says Olga Ryan, clinical manager at the El Rio Birth and Women’s Health Center.

The natural route was admittedly scary – recalling her first labor – “I remembered the pain, but I was convinced that if I had been able to get up and move around and go where my body felt best, it would have be easier,” explained Salina.

“It was ideal for us.”

For both their second and third babies, El Rio Birth and Women’s Health Center was the right choice, Salina was able to use the birthing tub, she sat on a bouncy ball, she walked, took a shower … she listened to her body.

They both agree that it is important for some higher risk patients to give birth in the hospital – an option for all El Rio patients – but are grateful that they are able to go with the birth center model.

During the pregnancies, they really “appreciated that the El Rio Birth and Women’s Health Center has nurses offices that are accessible from the waiting room – it’s an open door policy for patients with questions about anything from breastfeeding issues to finding a farmer’s market, it was really nice,” said Suraj.

They engaged in the breastfeeding support group and well-child visits after each baby and plan to deliver their fourth child at the birth center in the coming months. “It is an honor to welcome a new life into the world and into a family, it’s a gift,” says Ryan.

Celebrating over 12,000 babies born in Tucson

On September 24, 2017, the El Rio Birth and Women’s Health Center celebrated 35 years of providing high-quality, compassionate, comprehensive care. El Rio Health is proud to provide an array of health services to all members of our community, including people who have insurance, those on Medicaid – AHCCCS and those who have no insurance who can access the sliding fee scale. Now serving more than 96,000 people at 14 locations throughout Tucson, El Rio is the largest provider of primary medical care and dental services in Pima County. To learn more, visit or follow us on Facebook on our birth center page and community health center page.

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About El Rio Community Health Center

Our Mission is to improve the health of our community through comprehensive, accessible, affordable, quality and compassionate care. Our Vision is to be a national model of excellent healthcare.
We are dedicated to serving all people. Since El Rio began in 1970, we have grown to be one of the largest, non-profit community health centers in the United States. We focus on positive health outcomes, treating the whole person and prevention. Our health care is delivered by compassionate, professionally trained integrated health teams who give from their hearts to provide you with caring, high quality, world class care.

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