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Childbirth Education and Labor Support for Expectant Families
The Face of Birthing
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Now this is what they say.  "In the hospital they acts mo' like it's their baby than it's my baby."  I'm tellin you what
they tells me.  I aint' talkin bout what I said.  This is what they [women] say.  "I want to hear my baby when he
cry. I want to feel it.  I want to know what's goin on.  I want to know what it's takin to bring my baby here.  I want
to feel it cause I know that hurt ain't gonna hurt but just so long."  They don't like all that anesthesia.  It's work
havin yo' baby at home without any anesthesia, but's worth it.  It hurts but it ain't sufferin.  It is not sufferin.  It's
pain but it ain't the sufferin kind.  It's a good hurt.  
Mother knows the good that's gonna come out this pain.  She knows when that baby is born that she can sit up
and play.  She can take her baby on her bosom in her arms and play with it.  She gets wide awake after the
push comes and she get her baby and when the baby's born she's wide awake ready to play with her baby
without any trouble, any medicine or drugs or anything.  She's not sleepy anymo'.  She's ready for laughter.  

--Excerpt from
Motherwit, an Alabama Midwife's Story by Onne Lee Logan
A brief discussion about Homebirth and some great get-you-started resources:

Can you imagine running a marathon and having people standing on the side or running next to you for a few
minutes at a time poking you in the side or trying to take your temperature, or placing large straps around you
that restrict your movement?  How about women with clipboards riding on a bicycle next to you asking, "how old
are you? What was your shoe size before you started running? When did you last buy a pair of running
shoes? Have you called your high school gym teacher to let them know you are running? I'm sorry, but no, you
can't have that water while you're running!  And don't look to your friends and family for support, they were told
to wait at the end of the race to see you"  (and on and on) There isn't a soul in the NYC Marathon, the Boston
Marathon or even the Seattle Marathon that would let anyone near them to do those things.  It would break
their rhythm, focus, and breathing.  Even if they weren't the fastest in the race, every runner would know that
that type of interference would lead to missing out on their own personal best.

The external reasons for this are obvious but did you know that internally when you are allowed to labor quietly
in an environment which you feel safe in that there are hormones released into your blood stream which keep
you feeling good?  They act as natural pain killers and you can't access them when your labor is broken up
into moments between a nurse pulling and poking you, asking you dozens of questions, and measuring your
work and progress.  There are also natural hormones released into your blood stream as a response to stress
that will take the blood away from your working Uterus and into your heart, arms and legs if you feel threatened
or disturbed (this is your body's 'fight or flight' response).  These hormones work against you and your labor
and one of the amazing aspects of homebirth is that you do not have to worry about introducing people or
activities that would promote the release of these hormones or the suppression of the pain-killing, feel-good
hormones (endorphins).

You may suppose that homebirth is only for the hippy-granola-types.  And while this may be the image we
have inlaid from years of very little exposure to homebirth--there is really much more to it th
an just wanting to
be "natural".  We know from research that women birth best when left alone to follow their labor, and when they
feel safe.  Surrounding yourself with a warm environment--the sights, smells, and sounds that are yours--will
help you maintain your focus inward.  A sad, under-reported fact comes from the World Health Organization,
rating the U.S. 27th among nations for infant mortality.  That means that 26 nations in the world have lower
infant mortality rates than we do here.  What are those nations doing better?  The answer does not lie in
providing more technology than we use here--in fact, quite the opposite can be found.  Women in these
nations are
far less likely to use high-risk birth management for their low-risk births.  Instead, they use their
bodies, plenty of loving support, and caregivers who help them to trust their bodies, their babies, and the birth
process that both are uniquely designed and qualified for.

Many women who have educated themselves about the risks and benefits of different providers and birth
settings like the idea of homebirth, but worry about one thing:  
The Mess.
So let's talk about it.   A hundred years ago and more midwives would come to a home to deliver a baby and
use naturally absorbent materials to place under the mother.  She would catch the baby, clean up the material
she brought or put there, and leave.  (truly a hundred years ago she would most likely have cleaned the whole
house, cooked a warm meal, and even helped with the older children before she left!) But no leftover mess.  
These materials have varied depending on the location and availability, but plants and hay worked, old cloth
worked, dried leaves worked, and animal skin worked.  Today midwives use what are called under-pads.  They
can be made from a variety of materials--some are the same as used in hospitals and are called CHUX pads.  
Others are made of organic or washable material.  Either way, your midwife will carefully place many around
the room you will be using so that you can move about freely, and she'll put a stack of them under the pushing
mother, peeling away the top layer as needed.  I recommend purchasing your own set--they are great to use
under the baby for years as a mattress protector.  
(Click Here to see pictures and prices) . Before she leaves,
your midwife will clean them all up for you and leave your house, literally, spotless.  Should some staining
occur, she will have quick fixes that require very little effort on your part.

Now that you're ready to look past the mess-factor, it's time to make an informed decision!  Below you will find
a starting point for researching and understanding what homebirth is and why it is a viable option.  It's up to
you to do the work and make the decision you think is best for your family.  You don't need to learn how to
birth at home--you are built with the cellular knowledge of birthing.  You may need to learn to listen to that
knowledge, to hear your body and your baby as they guide you in the birthing process.  Talking with women
who have attended these births as professionals and women who have had these births for themselves can be
tremendously helpful.  It will help boost your confidence to know others have done it before you with great
success.  I would recommend reading three books--Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin which is
exactly as the title calls it--a guide to childbirth!  It is one of the best reads I've encountered, full of birth stories
and her unique perspective on how our bodies work.  
Active Birth by Janet Balaskas which can help a woman
reconnect with her birthing self, and
Rediscovering Birth by Sheila Kitzinger which helps put birth into historical
perspective, of which you will soon be taking your rightful place in.  If you would like to talk with someone who
has recently had a homebirth in the greater Seattle area, please
email me and I'll put you in touch.  Read the
below articles and abstracts written about home-birth:

Homebirth: what are the issues? By Sara Wickham (a general article)
Is Homebirth for You? 6 Myths About Childbirth Exposed Editor: Janet Tipton (an online Pamphlet)
How Safe is Homebirth?  By Yvonne Cryns (detailed with statistics)
Summary of the Midwifery Today Article:  “Pain During Childbirth, Can it be controlled Naturally?” by Rayner
The Safety of Midwives  By Yvonne Cryns (short with statistics)
References to get you started on your own investigation of homebirth (extensive list)
Homebirth Safety Research Abstracts (overview of several studies with list of relevant books)
World Health Organization's Summary of Research on Place of Birth
Why Midwife? By Shelly Girard, B.S.,L.M.,C.P.M., (wonderful pictures, personal article)
Homebirth Birth Stories from Childbirth.org
More Homebirth Birth Stories
Visit Washington State Midwives website to learn more