The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.
Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy
These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.
[Names used with permission.]
1/3/93: First child. Went into labor at 1:18am with spontaneous rupture of membranes, meconium stained. Went to hospital, hooked up, was told "doc will be here in 20min for your emergency c-sec." I freaked. I screamed that they had better get an anesthesiologist up here pronto for the epidural, because I refused to be gassed. In the time it took the anes. to stick me and the doc to get there and the nurses to shave me, have a BM on a bedpan in a room full of bustling, loud rude nurses, my son's heartrate stabilized and they allowed me to go into labor. Of course with an epidural at 2cm, I had no chance. They recommended not removing it or turning it off in case of a sudden deceleration and need for crash c/sec. After 12 hours (the hospital's "magic hour" for c/sec after membrane rupture) I was given terbutaline and wheeled into surgery for failure to progress and cephalo-pelvic disproportion. My then-husband (now ex) videotaped my surgery while I was tied, Jesus Christ-style, to boards, shaking uncontrollably from the drugs. Nicholas Ray was born healthy by c/sec at 2:14pm, 9lbs., 3 oz., apgars of 8/9. I was given more valium which had me dry-heaving all the way down the hall back to recovery. Four hours later, I was finally awake enough to hold my son. Sidenote: I had an opportunity to view my son's c-section video for the first time in two years, long before I discovered the peace of homebirth. I didn't remember it being so awful! I cried as I watched myself be sliced and trimmed, muscle and tissue yanked back with a metal spatula, and the doc in my belly near up to his elbow, tugging and pulling my babe out by his neck. The tubes in my nose taped to the side of my face, my arms strapped tight to the IV boards, shaking uncontrollably from the drugs. Then my sweet newborn son laid alone on a cold table, being gruffly toweled off, rubbed and tossed around, loud voices, beeping monitors, lights, his little newborn cry begging for his mommy. I remember catching a glimpse of his face as they paraded past me out the door with my son. While I was closed up, my mom taped his first bath, shampoo, weigh-in, and left alone on a warming table for 11 minutes screaming his poor lungs out to be held. This is NOT the way birth is supposed to be and I am MAD that this happened to me and my son, and angry at my ignorance at allowing it to happen. Thank you for letting me express that. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming......
Fast-forward almost 3 years: 11/16/95: After an uneventful pregnancy with my new husband, I apparently had learned nothing from my previous experience except to change doctors. I was attended by a VBAC specialist who induced me with artificial rupture of membranes. I progressed slowly and was given pitocin, cranked up at regular intervals. I became unable to handle the artificial contractions and requested an epidural at 5cm. I napped and watched Oprah the rest of the afternoon while the pitocin continued its upward spiral. At 6pm I was told I could push. The quaint, homey private room with its pretty couch and fold-out chair for daddy turned, in a split-second, into a bright, cold, tubes and monitors and machines everywhere plain-old-hospital-room. I was velcroed into stirrups in lithotomy position, nurses announced when to push while shouting "10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-breathe!" I was given oxygen (No wonder baby needed it-I had to hold my breath to push--where does that idea come from anyway?). They brought in, at my request, a large mirror and I watched this hairy little head crown after about 30min. With my "no episiotomy, no drugs" birth plan, reviewed weeks ago with my OB (and apparently ignored), taped prominently behind my head on the wall, I was given an episiotomy without my consent. With his cord wrapped around his neck, instead of somersaulting him through it she chose to cut it while his body was still inside. A few more pushes later and ripping the remainder of the way--end to end--Eli Harrison was born gray and floppy. They took him to a warming table, delee'd him and after about 90seconds let out a faint, weak cry. They wrapped him and whisked him away for the next four hours for observation. (Why they couldn't observe him as he laid on my bare, 98.6 degree chest to be warmed, I don't understand. He developed colic which persists to this day, at 22mo.)
The doc stitched up the skid marks in the birth canal and gave me back two holes instead of one for the next 50minutes. I was high--I had VBAC'ed!! Looking back on it, I was thrilled then but appalled now. It was horrible, but still better than my c/sec.
Fast-forward about 2 years: 9/26/97: After 9mo of unexplainable infertility, blood test confirms my third pregnancy, due June 10, 1998. This time, I have learned TONS. #1: I have chosen a direct-entry midwife. #2: I am laboring and delivering at home. #3: I have the love and support of ICAN.
due 6/10/98 with #3, first homebirth
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