Michelle Smith IAT, CPD and owner of Embracing Babies, interviewed Debbie Benton, a certified midwife assistant, birthing and postpartum doula. With 15 years of experience, she offers the answers to all of your questions as parents-to-be from pregnancy to postpartum care.
Michelle: What do you say to people who are scared of doing a home birth because they are not close to a medical facility?
Debbie: It begins with pregnancy. You have to take care of yourself. Midwives make sure that you are a low-risk client so that they know what to expect. If something changes during labor, there is usually more than ample time to get mom to the hospital. Yet, a home birth might not be the right choice for every woman. It is important for a woman to understand her choices.
Michelle: You mentioned prenatal visits. Can you explain what prenatal visits are?
Debbie: During prenatal visits, I usually bring a checklist of things to discuss with the family. During the first visit, we will get to know each other, make note of their preferences, discuss their concerns, and develop a birth plan, as well as discuss why it's important to them. At this point, we are trying to get comfortable with one another, and I want to let them know that I am available to answer their questions. During the second meeting, we talk more specifically about what they would like the birthing environment to be like. Does she want music? Does she have snack preferences? And I will address any other fears she has of being in labor. We also go over the plan for when labor begins, and when they should contact me.
Michelle: When should they call you during their pregnancy and when should they call you during labor?
Debbie: Really anytime during the pregnancy. If I work with someone early in the pregnancy I can answer their questions and work with their general nutrition questions as well; nutrition is very important throughout pregnancy. I have also done private childbirth classes and refresher courses for parents. Many people don't decide they want a doula until the end of their pregnancy, which is fine. If this is the situation, I will try to squeeze in two prenatal visits and cover as much ground as possible within that time. As far as during labor, I encourage my moms to contact me after they have had doctor visits, and discuss any changes in how they are feeling — especially if it's a first-time mom, who will not recognize when labor is around the corner. I also encourage my moms to call me as early as they like when they suspect that labor has begun. It doesn't mean that I necessarily go running out the door, but I can rearrange anything I need to do so that I am completely available for them when the time is right.
Michelle: What is the cost of a midwife?
Debbie: For the services of a midwife — and more specifically a midwife offering home birth services — I would say it averages about $6,000. A midwife can do all of your prenatal care, labor, and delivery and postpartum follow-up care.
Michelle: What is the price for a water tub?
Debbie: Approximately $250 for rental. A home birth midwife may have a tub available for use and you would just purchase the disposable liner for the tub, along with any other required home birth supplies.
Michelle: What are some of the benefits of using a water tub?
Debbie: Laboring in water can be very relaxing for mom or at least cut down on the sensations and intensity of the contractions during labor by as much as 50 percent.
Michelle: What is the most painless way to go through labor?
Debbie: Stay present and relaxed as much as possible; let go of any fear and tension. You need loving and caring support. Those who support you will know and understand what is important to you for your birth experience, and help to keep the environment as calm, peaceful and quiet as possible, limiting interruptions from outside sources in order to create a sense of privacy for mom. The family should not bring their own agendas; it is all about mom.
Michelle: What is the average length of first-baby labor?
Debbie: It can range anywhere from 12 to 20 hours (on average) but of course, every labor is different, as every woman is different. Keep reading...
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