YOUR BODY, YOUR BABY, YOUR BIRTH
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM YOUR MIDWIFE
With West Texas Midwife Services, you become a partner in your care with every decision made. Laboring and birthing mothers have freedom – freedom of who will be at the birth, what positions you will labor and birth in, and whether or not you will labor or give birth in water. Siblings have been involved, to their comfort level, in prenatal care, so your midwife is no stranger…in fact, many siblings have an active role in the birth (some announce the sex of the baby, others have the “job” of putting the hat on the new baby).
You are encouraged to eat and drink during labor to help with increasing energy needs. When labors slow down, a typical option is to facilitate rest, rather than hurry things along. You and your partner are encouraged to “catch” your own baby – bringing the miracle of your creation full circle. Furthermore, for your birth to be as natural as possible it is essential that you receive all six of the maternity care practices that support normal birth. You are educated in advance by your midwife on the labor and delivery process and newborn care, including information on circumcision. You never have to worry about an episiotomy.
After the birth, your baby’s umbilical cord is left intact until the placenta is born. Your baby stays with you (the best “infant warmer”!), while breastfeeding is encouraged and established. Breastfeeding support is immediately available, and continued support is maintained through your midwife and La Leche League International. Only after the baby has nursed for a considerable length of time (and your family has had private time to revel in this tiny miracle) is the newborn exam done – right on your bed, right by your side. Your birth team cleans up, support persons prepare a meal for the new family, and your midwife conducts a series of postpartum visits through six weeks.
Above all, your midwife considers birth not only a tremendous physical event, but one that holds important emotional and spiritual value. Birth has the ability to shape our entire culture – and the significance of that is not taken lightly. Through open communication, your midwife works for you and with you – to help you achieve the birth you want.
Waterbirths are a natural way to ease pain during pregnancy. Soaking in a warm pool of water would relax any woman. However, laboring in water does more than just relax and comfort the expectant mother. Being in water eliminates the pull of gravity on her body. This helps reduce stress and allows the woman’s body to produce more endorphins, which block pain. Many women also reported feeling a burst of energy as they enter the water. The water also helps aid in the elasticity of the skin, which causes the birthing process to go smoother. There are many more advantages to waterbirths that you can experience if desired (see our section on “The Benefits of Water Birth or Water Labor”).
Often during birth women have pressure placed on them to take unnecessary drugs when birthing in a hospital setting. These drugs often have damaging effects on mother and baby. One very popular and unnecessary intervention is the epidural anesthesia. When an epidural is given to a pregnant woman a syringe is inserted in to the mothers’ spinal cord and powerful paralyzing drugs are injected into her body. These drugs literally paralyze her from the waist down. Because she is paralyzed she can no longer feel weather she is pushing. Muscle control and is all but disabled. This drug also slows down or stops labor contractions which causes labor to last longer. With few exceptions, this will always result in the administration of other labor inducing drugs. This drug inducement of labor dramatically increases the frequency and pain of contractions, often without a single moment of rest between contractions, thus exhausting the mother. The increased pain caused by the labor induction drugs in turn results in the administering an increased dosage of epidural anesthesia, thus slowing down labor again. As you can see, these unnecessary drugs result in a cascading cycle of interventions, usually continuing until either an instrumental (forceps or vacuum extraction) delivery is performed, or an iatrogenic (physician caused) cesarean section becomes necessary, both of which could have been prevented.
Even if an iatrogenic cesarean section is avoided, the outcome of this is a completely un-natural birth, with both mother and baby in a drug induced state. The drugs administered can cause serious complications with the mother and baby. Mothers have lost their lives because the epidural was injected into the spinal canal which causes the respiratory system to fail. Babies born with these drugs in their bodies have been shown to have slower reflexes and lower test scores. Epidurals also interfere with the mother and baby’s bonding and breastfeeding. In some cases brain damage and even death have been caused by the drugs administered during child birth. When childbirth is treated like a medical emergency instead of like a natural process the results may be disastrous (see our section on “Pain and Epidurals” and our section on “How will I cope with labor?”