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Normal Birth: Do We Believe? Can We Remember?
|Case#||Parity||Date||1st stage||2nd stage||Total||Weight of baby||VBAC?|
|1||2||12/97||1hr 17m||17m||2hr 4m||9lb 2oz|
|2||1||1/98||1hr 1m||9m||1hr 20m||7lb 10oz|
|3||1||2/98||1hr 15m||15m||1hr 30m||7lb||yes|
|5||3||4/98||1hr 7m||21m||1hr 53m||8lb|
|6||0||4/98||2hr 40m||19m||3hr 5m||8lb 4oz|
|7||0||4/98||1hr 50m||30m||2hr 30m||8lb 14oz|
This young woman came to her prenatal visit at my house, had her baby and went home!
|8||2||4/98||2hr 30m||17m||2hr 47m||7lb 2oz|
More called me saying, "I think this baby wants to be born." I felt no contractions, I went to her very quickly, arrived to find her complete, and waited until she felt like pushing!
|11||0||6/98||1hr 30m||15m||2hr 5m||7lb 8ox|
|12||0||4/98||3hr 30m||15m||4hr||7lb 6oz|
|13||7||5/98||55m||18m||1hr 20m||8lb 20z|
Thank heavens, this mom's water broke to give me time to get to her before her labor began. She had 8 contractions, nuchal cord x3!
|14||4||5/98||3hr 30m||38m||4hr 20m||12lb||yes|
History: Two Cs for "failure to progress, CPD (posterior)," two births with us at the Birth Center. This was her first homebirth. 16 in. head, no laceration.
|15||1||5/98||3hr 40m||35m||4hr 23m||7lb 4oz||yes|
She experienced almost no pain during dilation. When told she was complete, she said to her friend, "Why would she lie to me?" I had her touch her baby's head, waited until she wanted to have her baby and helped her get him out. She had been told she could never have a vaginal birth.
|16||0||5/98||2hr 34m||35m||3hr 9m||6lb 4oz & 6lb 8oz
|18||2||6/98||7hr||1hr 35m||8hr 35m||8lb||yes
(2 Cs for CPD!)
|19||1||6/98||3hr 30m||19m||3hr 59m||9lb 3oz|
I want to be known as the world's laziest midwife; to achieve this I try to spend the bulk of my energy during the prenatal period so that when it comes time for the labor and birth, all I have to do is smile encouragingly and make chicken soup!
Now we come to the third very important factor in assuring the birth will proceed normally. This is a matter of environment. Where does the mother feel safe? With whom does she feel confident? Recently I was talking with a young dad who had just finished his college degree and felt pretty exhausted after taking some of his final exams. He had studied very hard and felt that he had a good grasp of the subject matter, yet when it came time for the actual tests, he had been hampered by great feelings of fear and anxiety. Although he did well on all the exams, he felt he should have done better and that the grades did not reflect his knowledge of the subject fairly. As he was talking, my mind opened into a big "A-HA." I asked him to describe the testing site, and he told me it was a room he had not been in before, and full of equipment with which he was not familiar. There were about twenty others being tested whom he did not know, and the proctor was a stranger. The room was a dull shade of green (not his favorite color), and it was very cold. To me, this sounded like a woman going to a hospital to have a baby! No wonder so many women have "failure to progress" when exposed to an unfamiliar environment.
It has been my experience that when the mother is able to labor in an environment of her choice, with people surrounding her who make her feel respected, loved and safe, she is free to give birth to her baby, rather than be delivered. Some time ago, I was watching a video of Dr. Chilton Pearce describing what he considers to be "normal birth." To my astonishment, I heard him say "normal labor ought to take about twenty minutes!" Although I laughed at his remark, I have had time since to seriously consider his premise, and I am coming to believe that he just might have a point. Belief is a very strong universal force, and faith, I am told in the scriptures, can "move mountains!" I wonder how much effect the belief of the caregiver has upon birth outcome? The more I believe that "babies come out" and that it is not necessary that it be a lengthy nor painful ordeal, the more I am witnessing short, almost painless labors. For all of you who just stopped reading this because "Auntie Val" is being a little crazy again, I am going to offer you some evidence to sustain your belief in "evidence based practice."
What is normal birth? I wonder if we really know anymore. The modern birth has been so managed, arranged, choreographed, augmented, drugged, sliced and diced that many of us have forgotten its very nature. What I do know is that when we free ourselves to love women unconditionally, establish relationships of trust, learn everything we can about the physiological process, take care to ensure the prenatal course runs smoothly, pay attention (by our physical presence) to situations before they become complications or emergencies, and relearn to use our hands to calm, massage, encourage (and sometimes adjust those little heads), our minds and hearts may once again remember that birth itself is a normal event. Birth is truth.
Valerie El Halta, CPM, has been practicing midwifery for twenty-four years. She co-directed The Birth Center in Dearborn, Michigan with Rahima Baldwin Dancy for nine years. She now enjoys a busy homebirth practice and continues to write and teach.
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