December 1, 2020
Gone are the days of rote deliveries, with procedures dictated by the obstetrician or the hospital administration.
Now a range of personalized birthing options are available that just twenty years ago were not being offered, much less considered.
The biggest driver in birthing trends is that expectant moms are taking charge and are more involved in their labor and delivery decisions and are choosing personalized new options on the big day. This in turn has spurred the popularity of and rise in birth centers and the services of doulas, birthing educators, midwives, and lactation consultants.
Amanda Devereux of Nola Nesting has been on the birthing front lines as a doula since 2010. She observes that, “probably what I’m finding among my clients is a desire for autonomy. They (expectant mothers) are looking to be treated and cared for as individuals and they want their voices to be heard.”
Hospital Birth Centers
Birth centers within hospitals are common today and offer individualized experiences to delivering mothers. Among the key features of these centers are their homelike environments that are still squarely within a hospital facility should special needs arise during or after birth.
Mary Kay Ford, Director of Women’s Centers, Ochsner Baptist, notes: “Giving birth is a very personal experience. With that in mind, we designed the Perkin Alternative Birthing Center to provide mothers-to-be with the option for a unique, natural birthing option located in the Ochsner Baptist Women’s Pavilion. Our team of Certified Nurse Midwives works closely with mothers to help personalize their birth plan with many options including water birth in a home-like setting.”
Independent Birth Centers
These facilities are more affordable than hospitals and in most instances offer a faster departure after delivery, with delivery performed by certified professional midwives. Generally, birth center staff administer to home births as well as those planned at the center. While widely available and licensed in other states, Louisiana regulatory restrictions limit operation to facilities that have a collaborating physician to sponsor them. Exceptions exist in Baton Rouge, and on the North Shore and in Acadiana are two branches of The Natural Birth House.
Doulas and Midwives
The chief difference between doulas and midwives is that doulas are not medical care providers and midwives are.
A doula is there to comfort and guide the mother throughout her labor and afterwards, and serves as an advocate if she feels that the mother’s voice is not being heard by the attendant medical team. A doula also can be hired to stay on with the mother postpartum and support her in the early days and months of new parenthood, breastfeeding, and recovery.
Midwives, on the other hand, are responsible for the mother’s health and safety before, during, and after delivery. There are three categories of midwives: certified, certified nurse midwife, and certified professional midwife, all of which must attend an accredited education program and be licensed. The differences between them are the degrees of their education. Different states have differing licensing credentials for midwives.
Hydrotherapy – Different from a water birth, immersion in warm water can provide relaxation and pain relief during any part of labor including the pushing phase. Labor & delivery rooms often have their own tubs.
Birthing balls & peanut balls – Some women find these can relieve pelvic or spinal pressure and pain when sat upon or draped over, or have them used to roll along their back or hips.
Birthing chairs & birthing stools – The strength of working with gravity to push through a contraction in an upright or squatting position is behind these new designs.
Nitrous oxide – Don’t laugh! The gas is a common delivery pain relief, as it does not slow labor, limit mobility or pose harm to the baby. It can be used while waiting for an epidural.
Regardless of where you choose to deliver, know that multiple options are available to you – just ask – and then tailor your birthing plan to suit you and your baby.
Does your vagina need physical therapy? Sara Reardon, aka The Vagina Whisperer, talks what’s normal and what’s cause for concern when it comes to vaginas here.
Trevor Wisdom is the Managing Editor of nola family magazine.