My passion for helping women birth their way began with the birth of our first baby, James, in San Antonio, TX in 1974. Lamaze childbirth classes were pretty new and fathers were only allowed in the labor and delivery room if mom had her class certificate in hand. There was little support for non-medicated birth from physicians or labor and delivery nurses. Fathers were required to leave the labor room if mom had any medication and were not allowed in for cesarean births. After 12 hours of a pounding induction of labor and my husband having to leave the labor room after I was given a medication that I had clearly stated I did not want, I had a cesarean birth under general anesthesia. I woke the next morning not remembering seeing my baby boy the night before. Fathers were also not allowed in the room when babies were brought out of the nursery 4 times a day for an hour to feed, so the first time my husband got to hold his new baby was in the parking lot 5 days after birth. Needless to say, this was not the birthing experience we had planned! Thank you, James, for giving me this lifelong passion!
I began a quest to change the birth environment in my community by going to nursing school to become a labor and delivery nurse and got certified as a Lamaze childbirth educator. I was part of a group of Lamaze educators who petitioned hospitals to allow fathers in the delivery room, to stay with mom if she chose to have medication and to allow partners in for cesarean births in the first few years of my career. We stirred public demand and even bought a rocking chair for the first birthing room in the city. We were the catalyst, but public demand is what really forced the hospitals and physicians to make changes to allow moms to birth the way they chose.
Through the years many good changes occurred. VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) deliveries were allowed at Medical Center Hospital (now University Hospital) as some of the first studies that indicated it was a safe alternative were done there. Our second son, Dustin, was born there in 1984 following a great nonmedicated 4 hour labor with my family and a ton of medical residents in the birthing room. Our baby was nursing within 10 minutes of his birth and never left my side during our 24 hour hospital stay. His VBAC birth made me feel like I could accomplish anything!
I was teaching childbirth classes privately at a local free-standing birthing center with another Lamaze certified educator and several Bradley educators, worked at the birthing center and had the best teaching experience of my career there. I was able to work with families through their pregnancy, teach their classes, help them through birth and breastfeeding and see them when they came back for their post birth check. I was able to see the “big picture” in a way that was not possible working in a hospital setting. I continued to promote mom choices by teaching VBAC classes, sibling classes and breastfeeding classes along with Lamaze classes.
My next venture into advocacy was to develop women’s health and childbirth education at a local women’s and children’s hospital that encouraged moms to birth their way after the birthing center closed. I worked labor and delivery and loved the birthing room deliveries where we had physicians who promoted choice. The childbirth education was developed using Lamaze standards and we employed a variety of wonderful educators who were all certified by Lamaze, ICEA or other recognized organizations. During this time I became an IBCLC and started the first outpatient lactation clinic in San Antonio. After 10 years of running this fabulous nationally recognized program, this innovative little hospital was closed during a merger with another large hospital system in San Antonio. I chose to go into private practice offering Lamaze and breastfeeding classes and assistance to couples who wanted additional options. I have continued this practice and love providing options that are tailored to the needs of the pregnant person and their family.
Now that I am officially retired, I have the time to advocate for moms and to continue to teach true evidence-based childbirth education. I have been a strong believer of true informed consent for medical procedures throughout my career as a registered nurse and educator. These are such important decisions you are making for your self and your baby that will impact many things including your self esteem and confidence, your relationship with your baby and partner, your breastfeeding experience, and possibly even your health and your life. It is important that you know both the pros and the cons of each decision you make about medical interventions. Know the risks as well as the benefits and make an educated decision that is right for you. I am not saying that non-medicated birth is right for every woman. I am saying that every woman must make the decisions knowing what she is dealing with and how to adjust and minimize any risks if you choose to have the intervention. Labor and birth often bring surprises, so it is important to be prepared for all of the possibilities and have a “plan B”.
The classes, consultations and concierge services that I offer are designed to help you get the information you need to make educated decisions and prepare for birth your way in any birth setting you choose. The blog is provided to allow you to share ideas, ask questions and for me to provide evidence based information that may help you in making these decisions. I may even invite guest bloggers to discuss topics of interest. The store will offer a convenient way to register and pay for your chosen classes, as well as some pregnancy and baby related items.
So, explore the website and learn more about what I will be offering. Above all, remember that you only get to experience the birth of this baby once, so let us help you birth your way in the Cape Fear area of North Carolina!