“I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies”

Childbirth. We are all here because of it. Mothers describe it as the most painful and amazing days of their lives. Yes, that is correct, I said days. My mother was in labor for two whole days. I feel like childbirth is not something that our society talks about regularly. We have made it

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become such a clinical thing. We almost treat pregnancy as something that needs to be treated, all of the doctors, medications, and hand sanitizer to make this process as efficient and painless. You have 36 hours to have this “magical” experience. The welcoming white walls and cold air greet you at the door.

Since we are diving into the logistics of childbirth here are some key terms to know. First thing you need is a Mommy and a Daddy… alright that’s not where this is going, but yes in order to have a baby those are some instrumental players. So there is a couple different types of births and people that deliver those babies.

At home birth, water births, birthing centers and hospitals!

At home births are just that, at home. This, if planned, is in an approved and comfortable space for the family and the deliver. This can happen on a couch, bed, floor, pretty much any place that the mother is comfortable and safe. There is the occasional situation when a baby is born at home on accident because there wasn’t enough time to get to the desired location. But planned at home births are just as safe as anywhere else. The deliver will have all of the things they would need for a safe and according to plan birth. If an emergency were to arise or complication were to happen the mother would be brought to a hospital. Also the mother must clear certain criteria before an at home birth can happen. If a mother has a history of health issues or is older in age it is usually not recommended to have a child at home.

Next leads us into water births. And again it is just that, a birth in water. This happens a number of different ways. It could be in a bathtub or sometimes a birthing pool. The birthing pool is ideal because it can be relocated and the deliver can walk around the entire area. My cousin Marina actually had all three of her children this way. What is really cool is that the baby gets clean at the same time. It’s like skipping a step! Birthing centers also usually have this option.

A birthing center is a place where you can have your baby that isn’t a hospital or your house. Again, like with at home births or water births, the mother must be healthy enough to have a child outside of a hospital to utilize this option. They are usually very peaceful places with comfortable furniture and a nice waiting room. It is much more personalized and private for the families using them.

The most common location to have a baby is in a hospital. We should all know what a hospital is, but if you haven’t ever been to the nursery wing it is still pretty great! There are friendly nurses faces and knowledgeable staff at had. Each mother usually (at least in the United States) will get her own room, but it is much less personalized because once that mother leaves the next one comes in.

Now time for the delivers!

We have the OBGYN. This is the doctor who’s degree is in birthing babies. OBGYN stands for Obstetrics and Gynecology. So much easier than that mouthful to say. It is commonly known as an OB as well, because why not abbreviate and aberration?! Women will go see an OB for yearly check ups, pap smears and regular lady health needs. To become an OB it takes quite a few years of schooling because they are medical doctors.

Midwives and Doulas are also trained professionals in childbirth. Midwives are of a more natural and holistic approach to the birthing process. Their schooling is not as formal, in the sense that they do not need to have their doctorates. There is an apprenticeship process as well as schooling and a certificate that must be completed before one can become a licensed midwife. The same can be said about a doula, except a doula is more of the support system to a mother before, during and after her birthing experience. A doula does not do the actual delivering part, that is the difference between the two.

And lastly the different types of births. We covered that there are different locations to have a baby, but not what choices to not choices one has when giving birth. The thing I have heard the most is “did you have drugs?”. This means was an epidural. This is a pain suppressant that is given into the spine of the mother. If someone says that they had a natural birth means that they did not have an epidural.

There are some thoughts that epidurals can cause some negative side effects for newborns, but according to many studies it is currently not proven. Epidurals are a safe pain reducer in childbirth.

There are also some things that can’t be planned or in some cases planned. This is a caesarean section birth, commonly known as a C-Section. In instances of preeclampsia or other health concerns for the mother or baby a C-Section will be scheduled. But they are at times used when there is an unforeseen complication or birthing difficulties. This is referred to as an emergency C-Section.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well it also takes a village to bring a child into this world. And in that village we have experts of all sorts. So many different things have to play out to have a safe childbirth. So many things are happening to the mother before, during and after the birth, hormonally and mentally (health, biology, psychology). There are the medical professionals that help bring that baby into this world safely and keep them healthy after (medical). And we have the educators that not only educate the parents on what the experiences will be like, but then the children after the 6 weeks of maternity leave when they enter into the child care area. All of these experts of different disciplines come together to see the miracle of life play out.

When I told my mother about this paper she was more than excited to know more about it. And that got me thinking, why not just interview some mothers out there about their birthing experiences? I called her back the following night and asked her if she was interested.

The story of how my sister and I were born was nothing new for me. Like me, my sister is kinda obsessed with childbirth, and we would ask my mom often to tell us the stories of when we were born. My mom doesn’t even hesitate by setting the seen of the cold February day when her and my dad went to the hospital. But I treated this like I had never heard the stories before and was interested in hearing what she had to say this time around.

Name:

  • Katherine Steere
Katherine with her daughters Erin (L) and Ayla (R) 2016

How old were you when you had your first child?

  • I was 35 when I had my first child, Ayla. I was a “late bloomer” if you will.

How old were you when you had your second child?

  • With Erin I was 40. Also a little later than planned, but I was older and had learned so much that it was almost easier.

Did you have your children in a hospital setting?

  • Because of my age I had to have the girls in a hospital, but I didn’t necessarily want it that way.

What was your prenatal experience?

  • Both times my prenatal care was amazing. My OB had midwives under them in their practice. So I met monthly with my midwife and she used so many of the holistic practices that I was looking for. Everything there was very Zen. When I was pregnant with Erin, Ayla was allowed in the room with me and we were able to share a lot of really special moments together.

Did you go to the hospital for your monthly checkups?

Ayla, Katherine and Baby Erin 2000
  • I went to my OBGY’s for my monthly checkups, but saw a midwife

Did you have an OBGYN and a nurse or a midwife?

  • An OB is who was there for the birthing part along with nurses. My second birth was an emergency c section so there was a whole team of people taking care of me. I had a midwife up until the birth, because I was older they were worried that something would go wrong, so they wanted me in a hospital just in case.

What was your experience like during the birthing process?

Loud, peaceful, exciting, long…ect

  • Ayla took days. I decided to have a natural birthing experience with no drugs and the bird chirping music, but 36 hours of that was pretty much hell. When it came to the birth part there was a lot of yelling from the nurses and a lot going on which wasn’t my favorite. With Erin she was a week late and didn’t want to come out, so I had an emergency c section to get her out. What was nice about that was I just had to lay there and the days that followed I had a lot of help from the nurses.

Do you wish that the experience was different? If so, why?

  • Both were amazing in their own way, but I do wish that I could have done a natural birth with Erin
    Ayla (L) and Erin (R) Christmas 2001

    and have it be safe. I do also wish I could have had the girls delivered by a midwife, but again because of my age we didn’t want to take any chances.

Who was with you while you were giving birth?

  • My husband

What type of support did you receive during the birthing process?

  • My parents were in the waiting room most of the days along with my sisters. The nurses were amazing and my OB was very patient.

Did you know about midwifery during your child birthing experiences?

  • Yes

What type of post birth care did you receive?

  • I returned to the clinic for my monthly checkups along with my girls for theirs. It was a mother and children’s center.

I also figured, why just have this one fabulous Momma tell her stories… make it two! So I got to talking one afternoon with a Plymouth State University employee in the Global Education Office. She was asking about senior year and through the panicked look in my eyes of not wanting to finish here, I told her about my capstone. She was really excited and without even asking if I could interview she was volunteering.

Your name:  Jane Barry

How old were you when you had your first child?

  • I was 27 when I had Tom.

How old were you when you had your second child?

Jane with her sons Tom (L) and Nate (R) 2016
  • And 32 for Nate.

Did you have your children in a hospital setting?

  • Yes

What was your prenatal experience?

  • Went to birthing class, along with OBGYN visits

Did you go to the hospital for your monthly checkups?

  • No, went to OBGYN

Did you have an OBGYN and a nurse or a midwife?

  • Just OBGYN

What was your experience like during the birthing process?

  • Loud, peaceful, exciting, long…ect First baby was 12-15 hrs (don’t really remember!), my water didn’t break so they had to in hospital.  It was fairly peaceful because I really tried to do meditative and deep breathing.  Second baby was exciting in that my water broke at 12:30am and he was born exactly at 2:00am.  We raced to the hospital, ran into the ward, ripped my clothes off, went to bathroom and Nate was born 5 minutes later.  OBGYN wasn’t even there yet; I still remember the nurse yelling at the top of her lungs for the other nurses to assist.  My husband had black and blue finger prints on his forearm from me squeezing him so tight I had NO DRUGS with either birth

Do you wish that the experience was different? If so, why?

  • No.  Both were different but wonderful.

Who was with you while you were giving birth?

  • Husband

What type of support did you receive during the birthing process?

  • Nurses, husband, OBGYN at first one coaching

Did you know about midwifery during your child birthing experiences?

  • Yes

What type of post birth care did you receive?

  • Just the typical follow up, nothing out of the ordinary.

Both women taught me so much about childbirth, more than I could have even asked for. This has just solidified what I plan on doing with my life and career in the future. No one way is the “best” way to have a child. Each birth is magical and special in its own way, and it is truly left up to the families on how they want their child to be welcomed into the world.

References:

Burtch, B. E. (1994). Trials of labour : The re-emergence of midwifery (Critical perspectives on public affairs; Critical perspectives on public affairs). Montreal Que.: McGill-Queen’s University Press. http://www.deslibris.ca/ID/400316

Magill-Cuerden, J. (2006). Nurturing and supporting mothers: A hidden skill in midwifery. (Cover story). British Journal Of Midwifery14(6), 374.

Moyer, M. W. (2012). Weighing the Risks. Scientific American306(5), 22.

Torpy, J. M., Lynm, C., & Glass, R. M. (2005). Childbirth. JAMA: Journal Of The American Medical Association293(17), 2180.

Walsh, D. (2009). Labour pain and epidurals: tampering with the pain–pleasure paradox. British Journal Of Midwifery17(8), 482.

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