The Breath of Life Women’s Health Services and Birth Center, on East Bay Drive in Largo, celebrated its first anniversary this month. It has had 22 births. The center partners with childbirth educator June Connell, of Happy Birth Way to provide bimonthly informational sessions on the natural birth experience. The classes are based upon the birth philosophies and experiences of Dr. Robert Bradley. Participants get an overview of pregnancy and labor, have an understanding of birthing options, the roles of partners in the experience, as well and nutritional options for the mother and baby. The next set of classes will be Sept. 6 and 8 and Nov. 1 and 3. The all-female staff at the center provides gynecological care Monday through Friday. “We are the only certified nurse-midwife OB/GYN practice and birth center in Tampa Bay and one of only two in the state,” said administrator Glenda Pearson The facility has a nurse-midwife on call 24 hours. The center has three private birthing suites, each with a private birth tub for labor or for water birth.

By the numbers
80 Water births at the center.

2007 Year center opened.

$4,700 Average cost of prenatal care and delivery.

Of the first 100 births:

Largest baby:
10 pounds, 12 ounces

Smallest baby:
5 pounds, 9 ounces

Most popular boy’s name: 
Gavin (3)

Most popular girl’s name: 
Isabella (4)

The center’s three birthing suites (with “The Garden Room,” “The Beach Room” and “Nature’s Watch” themes) look like upscale hotel rooms with oversized bathrooms. Each has a large Jaccuzzi-like tub with support railings, a 20-inch flat-screen television, a stereo system with a CD player and iPod docking station and a private patio. Patients can bring aromatherapy candles or use the tub’s lights and bubbles.

“It’s meant to be as homey as possible,” Pearson said. “It’s a very peaceful, calm atmosphere.”

Moms can have as many people as they want in the birthing suite. A “family room” equipped with a small kitchen, a couch, comfy chairs and a TV holds overflow family members.

The center is all about providing unlimited support and choices, Pearson said.

Rachel Holm, 23, of Clearwater, used the center to deliver both of her children, 1-year-old Virginia and newborn Miller, born Dec. 12.

“It was amazing,” she said.

“Everything we had heard and read about Breath of Life, it exceeded our expectations,” said Holm’s husband, 24-year-old Dan Holm.

As the Holms headed down the hall to an exam room for their follow-up visit, they passed the frames containing photos of babies born at the center.

Ninety-nine so far.

And an open spot for little Ester Papa.

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.