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When Alvita Wright gave birth to her first son, Eric, now 8, she was given an epidural anesthetic for pain relief that made it hard to stay awake for her baby’s first moments in the world.

The birth of her second baby in November is going to be different for the 27-year-old Clinton Township woman.

Wright plans to give birth to little Carson in a new $6 million “natural birth” unit at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, where there are hydrotherapy tubs, massaging shower heads and other amenities to soothe the pain of childbirth.

“With the epidural, it made me really drowsy and it made my recovery much harder,” Wright said, following Thursday’s announcement of Monday’s scheduled opening of the Karmanos Center for Natural Birth.

The center has six birthing suites that feel more like a luxurious hotel than a hospital ward. It is a gift to Beaumont from Danialle and Peter Karmanos Jr. in celebration of their four sons, who all were natural births.

The Beaumont center is part of a national trend, a gold standard for attracting more patients, said Allan Baumgarten, a Minneapolis-based independent hospital analyst who writes an annual review of Michigan’s health care market. “(Hospitals) think, and I think correctly, that if they get a family through their doors to have a baby, they’ll build loyalty with that family for the next 50 years,” Baumgarten said.

At Beaumont, specially trained nurse-midwives will help mothers through drug-free births using aromatherapy, therapeutic touch, reflexology, music therapy and other holistic techniques. There’s an indoor walking path and two outdoor rooftop gardens.

“Our vision in partnering with Beaumont was to create a first-class facility with the best doctors and nurses, and the tools, resources and environment to support a natural birth experience, for families that choose that path,” Danialle Karmanos said in a Thursday statement.

kbouffard@detroitnews.com

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