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Tag Archives: birth support

Planning Your Birth Team

Creating a positive birth experience starts with a good support team.

Nothing influences your birth more than your birth team. The people you have with you will forever shape your memory of the birth of your child.

Research shows that continuous support during labor can reduce complications, lower the risk of cesareans as well decrease the need for pain medication. A good support team can promote bonding, lead to an easier recovery, support successful breastfeeding, and improve your birth experience. Who doesn’t want that?!

Here’s a couple of tips and tricks to creating an awesome team of support for your baby’s big arrival. 

Location of Birth

Home, Hospital, or Birthing Center? Tour your local facilities, get a feel for the energy and the resources available at each location. Where do you feel comfortable? Where do you feel supported? Where would you feel safe? Studies have shown that birth at home or in a birth center with a Midwife in attendance is as safe as birthing in a hospital when the mother is low risk and there is a plan for transfer should complications arise.  Each location has it’s own risks and, it’s up to you to decide where is right for you and your baby!

Care Provider

Choosing a provider who shares a similar philosophy about birth is important, but more important, is a provider who will respect your choices, regardless of it he or she would make the same decisions. Your care provider will be guiding you in your care, you want to know that that guidance is going to support your desires. If you choose a Midwife, your Midwife will provide you with complete, comprehensive care for your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. She will support your birth plan and encourage you as the primary decision maker in your care while providing you with the information you need to make informed decisions.

Doula

Doulas are an excellent addition to any birth and postpartum support team! They provide emotional support, help with physical comfort, and can serve as a liaison to promote communication between you and the rest of your birth team. Doulas fill in if partners are not able to attend or aren’t involved. Postpartum doulas provide in home support to you and your family. Whether for birth or postpartum, doulas customize their care to support your needs. Ask your care provider for referrals to doulas in your area.

Partner

 Attending Childbirth Classes and prenatal visits together, reading books, watching videos, and talking about birth will help you both prepare for the birth of your child. It’s good for you both to have realistic expectations and enough support for each of you. The day your child is born, is a day you both will remember for the rest of your lives!

While birth can be a team effort, you are most certainly the star, and should have all the support you need.  A written birth plan can be an effective tool to communicate your desires and expectations effectively to your partner and the rest of your team. Together, you and your birth team can welcome your baby into the world with love and joy!

Black History Month: Influential Midwives

Many years ago, I had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting with two influential MIdwives of color that have made strides in the birth world. Gladys Milton and Margaret Charles Smith spoke to their midwifery experiences at a conference for practicing and aspiring midwives that I’ll never forget.

In these sessions, Margaret and Gladys enlightened our group to the challenges of Midwifery in the mid-1900s. They took care of the women doctors and hospitals didn’t want to care for during that time. Poor women, primarily women of color. They had limited access to resources and were rarely paid for their work as Midwives. Midwives have made progress legitimizing their profession with specialized care and training. Gladys Milton moved and inspired us all with her experiences, validating our passion for improving the birth of children in our communities.

Gladys was recruited by the Walton County Health Department to provide birth and delivery services to women in low income areas. As this was during the peak of racial segregation, many African American women had to rely on midwives for birth services. After taking this opportunity in Walton, she was trained and licensed in nearby Alabama to practice midwifery in 1959.

After acquiring her license, Gladys delivered babies and provided in home postpartum care for nearly two decades before opening her own center in 1976. This center was the first birthing center in Walton county, now known as the Milton Memorial Birthing Center. Milton Memorial is run now by Glady’s daughter and Midwife, Maria Milton and continues to provide care to low-risk families in their community.

Margaret Charles Smith was one of the first official Midwives in Alabama in 1949 and was still practicing in 1976 when Midwifery became illegal in Alabama and was permitted to practice until 1981. She caught her first baby at the age of 5 when the Midwife didn’t show up in time, she Midwifed herself through 3 births, and welcomed over 3000 babies to some of the poorest women during her Midwifery career.

Margaret co-wrote a book in 1996, “Listen to Me Good: The Story of an Alabama Midwife” and was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 2010. But what I remember the most about her was the stories she told at the Mana Conference in 2000. She shared with us her trials & tribulations as a midwife and was open to questions. One woman asked her, since she was prohibited by Alabama law from performing internal exams to assess dilation, how she knew when it was time for a woman to push… her response.. “Have you ever heard of crowning?”. She had quite the sense of humor.

Since she was restricted, like most of the Midwives back then, from using medical equipment and performing specific exams, she became more attuned to nuances of normal healthy pregnancy and the signs of problems. Several years after hearing her stories and her sharing some of her tricks of the trade, I had a mother experience a prenatal complication that did not present with the typical symptoms, yet it was Margaret’s words that came to me and allowed me to recognize the issue at hand and allowed this mom and baby to get the care that they needed.

I often think of these amazing Midwives and am thank full for the knowledge and wisdom they have shared that continues to support moms & babies today.

During the month of February, we take a moment to recognize women like Gladys Milton and Margaret Charles Smith and the men and women that inspire us every day to continue improving childbirth and midwifery care.

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