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Happy 2013! Here’s to new beginnings!


Well, looks like I’ve gone and left the blog unattended again!  So sorry about that, everyone.  Life has been amazing and busy since my last post.  Between prenatals, the holidays, starting my classes, and two births on the day after Christmas (!), I haven’t had any time to write things down!  I began my classes at the Midwive’s College of Utah yesterday, and am so excited to be learning more every day about pregnancy, birth, and babies.

On December 26, 2012, I woke up in Tucson to a phone call from Diane down in Bisbee telling me to get my tush back down there because both Alyssa and Teresa were in labor!  What a welcome and surprising Christmas present, since Teresa wasn’t due for another couple days and Alyssa a couple weeks!  Alyssa was the first to have her baby, at around 3:00 pm.  A little girl named Talia, born at home in the water.  Alyssa was in such a great labor daze, completely oblivious to everything but her baby and her birth.  Right after little Talia was out, I rushed over to the Birth Center to check on Teresa, who was about 5 cm dilated at the time, and spent the afternoon and evening with her as she worked to bring a little boy, Rafael, into the world.  She was such a fabulous pusher, bearing down effectively with every push.  Awesome to see.

Teresa and little Rafael enjoy some bonding time after the birth.

Teresa and little Rafael enjoy some bonding time after the birth.

It was so enlightening to see two births in one day.  It really allowed me to see how different two labors can be.  Where Alyssa just squeezed our hands, Teresa used her husband and myself to pull herself up and engage her entire body with each contraction.  Where Teresa didn’t particularly care for being in the water, Alyssa reveled in it.

Now we are waiting on another three moms who are due this month and could go into labor at any moment!  I’m gaining so much knowledge and experience with every birth, and love this profession more and more every day.  My New Year’s Resolution?  Help as many moms as I can to have happy, healthy, informed births in the coming year.  Cheers!

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Births, My Story

 

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The Home Birth of Jacob Daniel

The Home Birth of Jacob Daniel

Jacob Daniel meets mom Lynise, Dad Dan, and Sister Ashleigh for the first time.

On November 15, I was planning on having a nice, relaxing day, maybe reading a book, watching a movie. But a little baby had another thing in mind. While I was sleeping early that morning, Lynise began having contractions. By 8 am, she knew it was time to get in touch with Diane and I. I arrived at Lynise’s house at 10:30, and she was up and around, having contractions approximately every 3-6 minutes. They were pretty mild, and when checked was only 3 cm dilated. So we knew we had some time. We kept checking the baby’s heart rate every hour (I got to do it a couple times myself!), and at 2:30 she had opened up to 6cm. Things were progressing very nicely.

As the afternoon passed, Lynise’s contractions began getting stronger, and though Diane and I thought she might give birth before nightfall, the sun set and she was still not fully dilated, but getting closer at 8 cm. So we went ahead and filled up the tub and Lynise climbed on in. After relaxing for about an hour, Lynise was pretty much completely dilated, except for a small cervical lip, and her contractions began to get more intense. Her husband, Dan, got involved, employing some massage techniques and being very supportive (way to go Dad!), and after a few more contractions the baby began descending. She really concentrated, and even at the end her contractions were pretty short. At one point, Lynise thought she may have torn, but luckily hadn’t. At 7:38 pm, Jacob was born! He actually did this really interesting turn mid-birth, after his head was already out, flipping from face down to face up.

Jacob was born in the water, and immediately put on mom’s chest to bond and relax. Dad and young sister Ashleigh were enthralled by the new 6 pound, 14 ounce addition to their family, although Ashleigh was a little miffed that everyone was paying attention to Jacob and not her! After that, the placenta was born smoothly and intact and Jacob was introduced to his grandparents, and soon Diane and I were ready to pack up and leave mom and dad with their little ones.

I was in a total state of euphoria at this point. Jacob’s birth was my very first home birth and it was just a beautiful and relaxed as I imagined it would be. Even though I slept poorly the night before, I couldn’t imagine being tired after such an overwhelming and wonderful experience. Apparently baby Jacob felt the same way, because when we went back the next morning for the one day checkup, mom and Jacob hadn’t gotten much rest. It was then that we measured him (19 inches!), administered Vitamin K, and checked to make sure he was fully developed and healthy, which he of course was.

We just went back again today to see mom and Jacob, and I have to say he is so cute! I don’t have pictures yet, but I’ll be getting some from Diane soon! I’m more excited than ever to be pursuing this path, and can’t wait for the next birth! We have another mom due tomorrow, so we could be called at any moment. Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later!

UPDATE: Picture has been added to this post!

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Births, My Story

 

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The Journey Officially Begins


First of all, I need to apologize for the spottiness of this blog over the past year.  I should have kept up with it better, but I have to admit, most of the past year I’ve felt like I wasn’t making much progress towards my goals.  It was difficult for me to motivate myself to write when I felt like I was treading water.  Luckily, that time is now over.  I am elated to announce that I have not only found a midwife to apprentice with who is talented and awesome, but I have also officially begun my apprenticeship!  I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere, learning and doing what I need to to realize my dreams.  It’s all very exciting!

I’ve been trying to find a midwife who I would like to apprentice to for months now.  It’s very important when committing to a preceptor that you find someone who you get along with very well, since you will be shadowing them and learning from them for years.  I have been picky.  I was actually ready to move to Los Angeles and try to find someone there because of how disenchanted I was with the midwives in Tucson. Then, fate stepped in and I, by random chance, got in touch with Diane Gregg, the “goddess of Bisbee”, who has been attending births for 35 years!  She began her career in a very different way than I am, as a Labor & Delivery nurse in a hospital.  There, she was involves in around 2000 births, but realized that she would be happier as a midwife in her own practice,  So, she became certified as a midwife in Arizona in 1987, and has since been the primary midwife at about 600 births.  She’s also into homeopathy, which I find to be fascinating, and uses it with her clients every day.

After I found Diane, I commuted between Tucson and Bisbee a lot.  It’s a 2 hour drive, though, and so i began searching for a place to rent down here.  A week and a half ago, I moved into a house in the Warren neighborhood of Bisbee, and adjusting has been difficult.  I love the birth center, and actually got to attend a home birth on the 15th (I’ll be dedicating a post to that later), but it’s kind of lonely here.  I don’t really know anyone, and while I’ve met a bunch of people, it’s weird being away from my parents and my close friends.  I accidentally locked myself out of my house a couple nights ago, and I had a moment of panic when I realized there was no one I could call for help.  Luckily, I had left the window in the kitchen open, and with some maneuvering was able to get back inside.  I hid my spare key right after that.

Not having someone to turn to that night was really scary, but it made me feel so independent to be able to solve the problem on my own.  While the new found feeling of self-sufficiency is great, it doesn’t help with the lonely factor, however.  So I’ve been working hard at making new friends and settling into the Bisbee lifestyle.  There’s this great live music venue here, the Bisbee Royale, and I’ve been able to attend three concerts there already.  There, I met the Bisbee belly dance tribe, which led to me joining them.  I’ve also been turning to dating sites to help me meet people in the area who I can hang out with – who knew dating sites were also a great place to find friends?

I’m so excited to finally be on my path to midwifery, and can’t wait to share more of my experiences here in Bisbee with you all.  Keep an eye out for the post I’ll be doing tomorrow or Tuesday about Lynise’s home birth!  It was perfect and amazing.  Here’s to a new chapter in the story of my life!

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2012 in My Story

 

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It’s Hard Out Here for a Prospective Home-Birth Midwife


Sometimes, I completely hate the media. It endorses common fears women have about natural birth and birthing at home, when there truly should not be anything to fear. As I’ve said before, birth is natural. Our bodies were made to do it. In a normal pregnancy, birth with a midwife is the best option, no matter where you give birth, because the midwife will give you the most all-around care and usually be at your side for most of the birth, unlike OBs who let nurses check on the laboring mama and report back, not arriving in the delivery room permanently until the last few minutes of birth.  But instead of seeing these facts, people only see the horror stories in the media about home birth midwives who lost baby or mom or both in their birth.  Infant and maternal mortality are risks attributed to BOTH hospital and home births.  The problem is that there are midwives out there who have little training and experience under their belts, and they are missing important warning signs, both before and during labor, that should trigger them to advise birth in a hospital. I, myself, am going through an EIGHT YEAR program through the University of Midwives. It is insane to me to think that there are midwives out there who are licensed and certified with less than one year of training and experience.  The doctors and women out there who are fearful of home birth certainly have every right to be, with such lax training protocols!  An obstetrician can not practice without going through medical school. I think the same amount of training should be the norm for midwives, as well! We are holding at least two precious lives in our hands every time we attend a birth.  I know that personally, I would rather die myself than be responsible for a mother or child’s death because I was not adequately trained to recognize and treat potentially deadly complications.  I will rest easy knowing that I am never going to stop training, even after I go into practice. That I will do my best to memorize every affliction a birthing mother is at risk for. That I will learn the early warning signs that would make me recommend a hospital birth and not offer services at home.  That I will never be reckless in my education, so I will not be reckless during a birth.  How is it that some women who aspire to be midwives do not feel the same way? What could possibly possess a woman (or man) to begin practicing midwifery after only ONE YEAR of training, and no formal education?  I think they are insane, and they hurt my odds of being a successful midwife because they (rightfully) scare women away from our profession. 

So here’s my advice to all you mommas out there.  If you are going the home birth route, do your research!  Find out if your midwife has any malpractice suits. If she does, find out the circumstances.  Find out how long your midwife has been practicing.  Ask what training she went through to be a midwife, and how long she studied before practicing on her own.  Ask her for statistics on how many babies she has transferred to a hospital and what the reasoning for some of those instances were.  Ask to speak to former patients who will vouch for her.  Ask if she has had any infant or maternal deaths, and, if so, what the circumstances were.  If you feel like your midwife isn’t honest with you about any of the above, find someone else!  The most important part of a midwife-patient relationship is trust!  So make sure your midwife deserves yours.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in My Story

 

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Deaths During Home Births vs. Hospital Births News Coverage: WTF?


This afternoon, I was talking to someone about home birth and midwifery, and they brought up a very interesting point.  They CONSTANTLY hear about home birth deaths, but they’ve never seen a news story about a mother or baby dying in the hospital.  There wasn’t a whole lot I could say about it, because truthfully, I haven’t seen any coverage of maternal or infant mortality in hospitals in the mainstream media, ever.  All I see related to the subject are broad statistics.

Why is it that when I search hospital birth death cases, the first few results are about HOME BIRTH DEATHS?!  Then the rest of the results are just lawyers who want to represent you in cases against hospitals, and one result about a hospital who got sued after mortality resulted from a birth there.  It’s kind of appalling.  It’s not like women and their babies don’t die in the hospital during and after birth.  It’s not like the interventions taken during a hospital birth never result in death of mother or child.  THEY DO!  I don’t want to scare anyone.  Please remember that birth anywhere carries great risk, but with well-educated, trained medical professionals present those risks are much less likely to result in Mom or Baby dying.  And midwives who are trained properly fall under that ‘medical professionals’ category.

I think it is supremely unjust that such high weight is put on home birth deaths.  The top result from that search for hospital deaths earlier?  Check it out here.  She died of cardiac arrest the day after giving birth.  Something that would have happened anyways if she had given birth in a hospital or even a birth center.  And 24 hours after birth, if she had done it naturally in the hospital, there’s a good chance she would have been at home already anyways.  This complication is exceedingly rare in childbirth, and isn’t something that would have been easily caught even if she were in a hospital setting.  And yet the article is titled “Death After Home Birth Raises Questions.”  I feel like it’s pure propaganda.  It makes me sick.  It also makes me fear for my future profession.  With such propaganda flowing freely around otherwise reputable news sources, how in the world am I supposed to find patients who will trust me to do the job I will be extremely well qualified for?!

Here’s the truth: We are all only human.  Both hospitals and midwives do sometimes make mistakes.  Bearing children carries risks.  Midwives and doctors alike do everything in their power not to miss anything.  We are all trained to recognize symptoms and treat them as quickly as possible.  While a hospital IS a better place to be if you show signs of those risks (which usually can be seen far before labor begins), unforeseen circumstances such as a postpartum heart attack or hemorrhaging can happen long after you would be discharged from the hospital anyways.  Every woman has a different comfort zone when it comes to where they give birth.  And that is perfectly fine.  But I urge EVERY woman to do as much research about alternatives to hospital birth as possible, and try to see past the vast array of propaganda.  Birthing at home (WITH A QUALIFIED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL ON HAND) isn’t any more dangerous than birthing in a hospital.  Be careful when you look at statistics, and remember that the home birth stats almost always include unattended home births where the mother has not sought any type of medical care, which is reckless and extremely dangerous.  Example of one such study here.

Yeah.  I just went on a full-fledged rant.  Sorry about that!  But it is true.  There is a ton of propaganda out there against home birth that is just not true.  And it makes my heart hurt for women out there who end up going through traumatic births at the hospital because they weren’t properly educated on what home birth and natural birth really mean and what risks they truly carry.  I also feel bad that no one tells them that a hospital birth is just as filled with risk and just as likely to produce infant or maternal mortality.  It’s sad, but ladies please remember: it’s your job to educate yourselves about your options in childbirth.  And it’s a long process.  Don’t be ignorant just because the media is biased.  Use your noggins.  Do the research.  Do what is best for you, whether it’s hospital, home birth, or birth center.  Only you know which environment is best for yourself.

Anyone have personal stories related to this post they’d like to share?  Midwives who weren’t properly trained, doctors who didn’t explain all the risks, etc?  Share below!

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Rants

 

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Home Birth: It’s Not Just A ‘Hippie’ Thing!


The first time I heard about home birth, it was in an article I read about a woman who had an unassisted home birth, high off her ass on LSD.  This was maybe 2 years ago?  I distinctly remember thinking “Damn, those crazy hippies.  Why would anyone give birth outside of a hospital?!  It’s so dangerous!”  Looking back on that, I feel like an idiot.  Obviously, there are going to be some women who choose to do crazy things like that, but the majority of home-birthers are just like you and me, only they want an empowered birth experience where they call the shots – something you can kiss goodbye in the hospital!  And as for dangerous, multiple studies have shown that it’s no more dangerous than giving birth in a hospital.  Take THAT, Obstetricians!

For some reason, most people today think that home birth is dangerous and insane.  It’s something that they expect a woman in flowy skirts and hemp sandals with dreadlocks in her hair to be doing.  That stereotype is a crock.  All types of women go for home birth!  Hell, Gisele Bundchen had a home birth!

Back in the day, home birth was the only way to give birth.  Medicine didn’t have a solution for women who really needed help.  That all changed when the field of obstetrics came to be.  The advanced new methods they offered were intriguing and piqued the curiosity of pregnant women everywhere- giving birth in the hospital became the fashionable, safe thing to do. In 1938, home birth accounted for half of births.  In 1955, fewer than 1% chose home birth.

In the 1920s, a doctor described birth at home:

You find a bed that has been slept on by the husband, wife and one or two children; it has frequently been soaked with urine, the sheets are dirty, and the patient’s garments are soiled, she has not had a bath. Instead of sterile dressings you have a few old rags or the discharges are allowed to soak into a nightdress which is not changed for days.

This experience is contrasted with a 1920s hospital birth by Adolf Weber:

The mother lies in a well-aired disinfected room, light and sunlight stream unhindered through a high window and you can make it light as day electrically too. She is well bathed and freshly clothed on linen sheets of blinding whitenes… You have a staff of assistants who respond to every signal… Only those who have to repair a perineum in a cottars’s house in a cottar’s bed with the poor light and help at hand can realize the joy.

Obviously, these days beds aren’t soiled that way, and I sincerely doubt most home births in the twenties were that unsanitary, either.  And women were completely abused by hospitals while giving birth – completely sedated, strapped down, and subjected to forceps or worse.  Advocates of hospital birth are excellent at making women feel embarrassed if they choose any other option.  These kinds of stereotypes were one of the many ways they achieved that.

Today, out-of-hospital births account for around 1% of all births.  27% of those are in a birth center, 65% in a home.  It’s crazy, because the treatment received by obstetricians in hospitals can be horrifying.  Personal acquaintances of mine have been bullied into interventions, given interventions without being asked, and walked out on by their doctor for saying no.  I’m certainly not saying every doctor does this – I’m absolutely sure most don’t – but even just a handful treating women in this vulnerable state in such a way is unacceptable.  Home birth is one of the ways to take back that loving, joyful birth experience.

I think it would be so much healthier for everyone if only high risk births (such as preemies, birth by a mother with an STD, etc) were attended in the hospital.  Low risk, normal pregnancies aren’t an emergency.  They don’t require all sorts of help to happen.  They just flow.  So, all you mommas out there: consider your options carefully.  It’s possible to do things your way at the hospital, and if you feel more comfortable there, great.  Go to the hospital.  But if you’re not comfortable with the idea, then explore other options.  Interview a midwife.  Tour a birth center nearby.  Research as much as possible.  You’ll know what’s best for yourself, girlfriend.

All that being said…Home birth rocks!!  I can not wait to have a child by laboring in my own bed and seeing all my loved ones anytime I want, eating as much food as I want (NOM!), and screaming my head off at anyone who doesn’t do things the way I want!  I can’t wait until I get to be that woman.  Until then…the plan is to help all the currently pregnant ladies who desire my help and give them everything they want!  It’s going to be a rush.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Perspectives, Rants

 

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