Monday, March 15, 2010

Home Birth in the News

I was recently interviewed for a newspaper article about home birth. It was part of a full-page spread about out-of-hospital birth, and it turned out really well. It's very exciting to see natural birth getting more publicity, and I'm honored to be part of it.

From Hospital to Home
by Jessica Eyre

For Cherylyn, childbirth has been something of an evolution.

"From the beginning, I wanted to have natural childbirth without medication," Cherylyn said, "but I didn't know how to go about it."

Her first two children were born in a hospital, and Cherylyn got an epidural both times. With only the idea of wanting to do it without pain medication, Cherylyn said both times she didn't have the support or the knowledge on how to successfully do it.

For baby No. 3, Cherylyn found a doula, a trained person who provides emotional and physical support during labor and delivery. Together, they created a birthing plan.

"She worked with me in what I wanted and what I didn't want," Cherylyn said. For example, instead of a standard I.V., Cherylyn wanted a heparin lock. It gives access to a vein but does not require a bottle of I.V. fluid to be running.

"I didn't like being hooked up to wires," Cherylyn said. By having that freedom of movement, she could try different positions and walk around to help the progression of labor.

Another part of Cherylyn's birthing plan was having intermittent monitoring rather than constant monitoring. This, again, allowed Cherylyn to move freely around her hospital room.

She took her birthing plan to her obstetrician, who agreed with everything on it.

Baby No. 3 arrived without any medication.

"That was a wonderful experience, it was really beautiful," Cherylyn said.

Her doula was there with her, helping her focus and manage what she was going through.

Her fourth pregnancy went the same way, and she decided then that she wanted to become a doula herself.

While going through the training process of becoming a doula, she started reading course materials, and came across "The Business of Being Born," a documentary film about childbirth. It was this film that introduced Cherylyn to home birth as a safe, viable option.

"I realized I had more choices than I ever knew I had. So with her 5th pregnancy, "I knew that's what I needed to do," she said, referring to delivering at home.

Cherylyn found a midwife, who was a client of her husband, a massage therapist. Cherylyn said it is important when choosing a midwife, that you are comfortable with their credentials, experience and personality -- just as you would with a doctor.

There were similarities, but some big differences, between Cherylyn's prenatal care with her midwife and obstetritian.

The first prenatal visit was at Cherylyn's home, and subsequent visits were at her midwife's house. The prenatal schedule was virtually the same as her OB.

She did urinalysis and other tests, although Cherylyn chose to have an ultrasound and Group B Strep test at her doctor's office so it could be paid for by insurance.

A big difference for Cherylyn, however, was the approach her midwife took toward her health. Cherylyn has problems with anemia during pregnancy. Her iron levels were always low, even with a supplement.

"With my midwife, she talked to me about nutrition to help," Cherylyn said. While she still took an iron supplement, "for the first time ever, I didn't have an iron deficiency."

Another difference Cherylyn pointed out was the time she got to spend with the midwife at each appointment.

The midwife spent about 45 minutes with her each time, talking about good nutrition and her emotional well-being.

"She really connected with me on an emotional level, while still staying on top of my physical well-being," Cherylyn said.

When it came time for delivery, Cherylyn chose to deliver in a birthing pool, provided by her midwife, in her home.

During labor, midwives monitor the mother, they can administer oxygen if needed, they can break the mother's water.

"There are lots of things they can do at home," Cherylyn said.

But mostly, a midwife is there to make sure nature takes its course and the mother and baby are healthy on the other side of delivery.

When Cherylyn was delivering her baby, it was discovered that he was breech, meaning he was coming out feet first. While her midwife wanted to move her to the bed so she can turn the baby. But a second midwife who was there to help had a lot of experience with breech babies, and said Cherylyn could stay in the water and continue to deliver, and he was out within 10 minutes.

Cherylyn said the most interesting part of this experience was how the baby really worked with her body during delivery. Once his legs came out, he was kicking in the water. When his body came out, he was able to move his body around.

"He used his hands and his feet to push off to get his head out," Cherylyn said.

Certainly a delivery of this nature could have gone in a very different direction.

"If I would have had him in the hospital, I would have had surgery," Cherylyn said.

Cherylyn is now training to be a midwife, too, which she anticipates will take about five years.

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