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Bringing a Dose of Hygge to the Birthing Room

Hygge embraces the feelings captured in the Danish term for which it's named.EXPAND
Hygge embraces the feelings captured in the Danish term for which it's named.
Linnea Covington
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Denver doesn't offer pregnant women who want to give birth outside a hospital many options. To change that, Miki Tynan and Tara Duncan created a comfortable space where pregnant women could receive care before, during and after their pregnancy. They opened Hygge Birth and Baby last fall; their brainchild just picked up a Best of Denver award.

"We want to empower families and women to make conscious choices that are right for them," says Tynan, who has two sons, ages three and five, and another baby on the way. "We're about not making pregnancy and birth a spectator sport. It's a life-changing moment that you can never get back."

Located at 8111 East Lowry Boulevard, Suite 230, Hygge (pronounced "hoo-ga") aims to embrace the feeling of "hygge," the popular Danish term that encompasses feeling cozy, comfortable, cared for and relaxed all at once. Hygge offers bathrooms with open showers, four birthing rooms with two-person bathtubs for water births, prenatal services, massage, chiropractors, acupuncture, yoga, birthing and parenting classes and support groups.

Two years ago, Duncan and Tynan were both fed up with their careers — Duncan as an attorney and Tynan in sales — and they decided to pursue doula training and certification. They had been friends, or "sister-wives," as Duncan puts it, for over twelve years.

Tara Duncan (left) and Miki Tynan opened Hygge Birth and Baby in October.EXPAND
Tara Duncan (left) and Miki Tynan opened Hygge Birth and Baby in October.
Linnea Covington

After visiting a birthing center and seeing a documentary on the concept of hygge, they fell in love with the idea of creating a space to encourage relaxation and comfort during one of the most stressful times in a woman's life, relying on midwives, doulas and non-Western medicine for the birthing process.

"The concept fits well in Denver, and there's a surge of people talking about it," says Duncan. "However, there were things about the doula concept that we felt was antiquated, which is fine, but there were things we thought we could add to the experience. We wanted to make it more approachable, because it's very hippie. and people think you need to be a naturalist."

So while they offer doula training at Hygge, they've created a streamlined, modern birth center that's hygge, not hippie.

"All the birth suites we named after elements: fire, water, air and earth," says Duncan, who has two daughters, ages seven and ten. "We let people tour, look at the rooms and decide what they would like their birth space to look like."

They've also teamed up with the Mother's Milk Bank to create a space where mothers can both donate and get breast milk without having to drive all the way to the milk bank in Arvada.

While hospitals focus on delivery, birthing centers offer a more holistic approach to pregnancy. They are still required to give patients access to hospitals during emergencies, but Hygge doesn't currently accept high-risk patients, such as a woman expecting more than one baby. Costs depend on a woman's needs and insurance.

Since opening in October, the center has averaged about thirty births a month.

"We aren't anti-hospital," says Tynan. "I didn't have a bad birthing experience, but I did have a manufactured one." 

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