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.
My son, born in April of 1994, was supposed to be born at home. This pregnancy was unplanned...I discovered just nine weeks after my husband and I got married, that I was pregnant. We weren't ready to have a baby! This is what we thought. I was, after a few weeks, able to let go of this hang-up, and get on with planning the kind of birth we wanted. My husband just couldn't get into gear for a baby. Through the entire pregnancy, he found it impossible to even talk about the upcoming baby for more that a few minutes! But he agreed to the homebirth, the midwife, whatever I wanted to do was fine. So I read lots of books, believed I had the whole birth game under control and waited over-eagerly for our baby to come.
eight days after my due date, I began having contractions at about 8pm...about 4 minutes apart. I went to bed and got up to go to the bathroom at midnight and as I hauled myself out of bed, my water broke. I was ecstatic! Contractions stayed steady at 3 or 4 minutes apart and not too difficult until about 7am. At that time, my midwife checked me and said I was about 6cm dilated. When I got up from that internal check, I was in "back labor"...my baby's head was ramming down on my tail bone with every contraction. It was very painful and I began to feel a little afraid. But I didn't know it was back labor and after awhile I began to think, "transition is supposed to be really difficult to manage, maybe this is transition!" Once again, I was ecstatic. But at the next internal check, 9:30am, I was still at 6cm. I just fell apart. I cried. I felt defeated. I wanted someone to rescue me, but didn't know how to ask, or what I even wanted. I continued in this very painful back labor for another eight hours. My husband napped through the day, and I resented every wink of sleep he got. But I didn't ask him to stay with me. I sort of martyred myself, not a good response, I now know....Jon did take me for a few walks on our roof (we lived in a Boston brownstone) then at about 4pm, he went for a walk alone, and during his absence, the midwives and I decided I should go to the hospital. When Jon came home, he was shocked by the news and the sight of all of us scrambling to get me out to the hospital. The short and only necessary part of the story from there, is that after six more hours of the same misery, I was incapable of making a rational decision, and when c-section was offered I said "sure, go ahead". After my beautiful nine and a half pound son was removed from my belly and I saw my sweet husband holding him and crying, I realized that I had been afraid that Jon would reject his baby, and maybe I was holding back for that reason. I also, believe that even with all the reading I did, I was not sufficiently prepared for the intensity of the work that birthing a baby can be.
Eighteen months later when my daughter was born, I came to her delivery a changed woman. I knew that part of my trouble with David's birth was due to the fact that he was in a posterior position...as was Audrey. I spent about two hours a day during the last four weeks of that pregnancy getting her rotated around to a better position by crawling around on my hands and knees, reading books to David on hands and knees...and it did rotate her around so that her spine ran just off center of the front of my belly when I began laboring on her due date. I had walked a total of more than nine miles around our neighborhood over the previous three days. I had taken a tincture of black and blue cohosh and had applied Oil of Evening Primrose to my cervix every evening for ten days. (Check out Susun Weed's Wise Woman's Herbal for the Child Bearing Year) Anyway, I got to the hospital at 7cm dilation...which was a great victory for me...sort of like starting out farther along than I was at the end of the last labor! I was shuffled up to a labor room, and it took me awhile to get out of my clothes at such an advanced stage of labor...this mercifully delayed the nurses from getting their mitts on me. When I got onto the bed, Jon was right there with me, and I pulled and wrestled so hard with him during those contractions, I actually ripped the pocket right off his pants. Now, the nurses knew form my chart that I had had a section before, and they couldn't wait to puncture my vein for the IV insert. I kept putting them off, then finally at the height of a contraction when I was pushing my daughter out, the nurse succeeded in poking that needle into my vein. less than a minute later, i pushed Audrey out after a three hour labor, and not too difficult.... a beautiful little (7lb11oz) girl. What a wonderful moment that was. I got to catch Audrey myself, and I was the one announcing to the room..."A Girl!" Incredible.
So for my third baby...eighteen months later...I had a very young and energetic homebirth midwife named Chris. Chris cannot sit still. This may be an unusual feature in a midwife, but for me it was just perfect. She was bustling around busily while I did the work of my labor... My water broke for this baby three weeks before his due date. Labor cranked right up and I was having heavy duty contractions about 2 minutes apart within an hour. Chris just left me alone in the shower. Jon had just gotten home from a trip overseas and was just awfully jet-lagged, thought he was really giving me his very best energy, he'd been awake for more than 36 hours so I left him napping in a chair and just rode out the contractions on my own in the shower. By this time I knew in my heart that labor was my job, and mine alone to do. Michael was born two hours later...he had been another posterior baby and even at three weeks early, he weighed almost nine pounds. And I didn't have the slightest tear! When I caught Michael, I just laughed uncontrollably for several minutes. That was just a fantastic birth. NO STRESS at all. And, though I think all my babies have been fairly easy babies, Michael has been always the very most happy and loving and affectionate little man I have ever known. I think part of it is because he came into the world to the sound of laughter, not the impersonal tones of a medical staff and the strange smells of a hospital.
I am now pregnant with our fourth. Jon is really excited about
this homebirth coming up. I have seen him come full circle...from
the freewheeling bachelor to the very devoted and INVOLVED parent.
I believe that our increasingly joyous birth experiences have been
a real blessing to him and to us as a couple.
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