It was a midnight in December, and the intense fog created the perfect backdrop for an intimate walk in the park. The air was so cool that each leaf that weathered through the strange winter climate began to hug each other for warmth. The wind blew quietly, and the atmosphere grew still. I was in labor, and our third child was about to be born…at home.
The Power To Choose
It’s funny how parents often long for adult conversations, but the topic somehow leads back to the joys and challenges of parenting. Mothers talk about their birth experiences, fathers admit their fears… no one talks about options. Where, how, and when babies are born are often discussed between doctors and insurance companies, and not by the mothers and fathers who created and nurtured the tiny lives yet to be born. Most insurance companies will not cover births planned at home or even birthing centers. Why? Could it be that women have forgotten (or was never taught) how to surrender to the God-given power within to bring forth a child naturally, or has giving birth become another financial industry? Today’s patients and insurance companies are being billed an average of $10,000 for an uncomplicated hospital delivery and up to $20,000 or more for cesarean sections, and newborns often receive a separate bill. In a society where greed is shameless, it starts to make sense why the Cesarean rate in the United States is over 30% (World Health Statistics 2009, World Health Organization). Fortunately, you do have the power to choose. Some mothers worry about their baby being hurt under hospital medical care, if this has happened to you and you are afraid to speak up, do not be, you deserve your voice to be heard and to be helped out, you can contact birth injury attorneys to help you with your case and have your situation hopefully not happen to another mother.
Midwifery is an ancient practice that has been used long before the creation of hospitals, and is the preferred choice of mothers who want a non-pathological (study of disease) approach to pre and postnatal care. Midwives are trained experts in providing complete holistic care for mother and baby during the childbearing year. This includes, but is not limited to, pre and postnatal nutrition, routine prenatal visits (these often last longer and are more in depth to address all of the mother’s concerns or questions), allowing the mother the freedom to labor and deliver how and where she desires (as long mother and baby are healthy), innovative and safe solutions in case of mild complications, breastfeeding expertise, etc. They are there to ensure a safe childbearing experience while maintaining the parents’ freedom to choose.
The first step in choosing a midwife is to start within and envision your own birth experience. Where would you like to give birth? What type of lighting and music (if any) would be most soothing? Who do you want to be there during labor or birth? What snacks do you prefer while laboring? Whose arms do you want the baby to be delivered in? Write this vision down in a birth plan. Childbirth.org has a great birth plan that you can fill out online and print. Remember you can always change the details, but it’s good to have a starting point. After centering your preferences, begin searching for a midwife that “fits”. I found my current midwife, Afua Hassan, after frantically searching the Yellow Pages one evening during my second trimester, pregnant with our second son. After dialing several numbers, I called the number she listed, (713) MIDWIFE… she answered, and we had the best conversation! We discussed my ideal birth (birth plan), general health synopsis, immediate and future goals, and what I needed from her. She’s not your typical health care provider. Her company is called The Birthing Place, because you can give birth almost anywhere. Our first meeting was at a local mall with the medical portion done at her office. To date, Afua has delivered two of our three children, and has years of child birthing expertise. (All of her children were born at home!) She also offers well women exams and pre-pregnancy counseling, doula (labor coach) services, teaches breastfeeding classes, is a shoulder to lean on, a great friend, excellent mother, and the best health care professional I have ever had (and I have had many)!
The truth is most births can occur naturally with minimal interference. Sadly, most mothers and fathers aren’t aware that they DO have options. I recommend all moms and dads to view The Business of Being Born, the documentary brainchild of actress/talk show host Rikki Lake. This film chronicles the history, questions, and answers to the current maternity care system, with highlights on the controversy to oust birthing centers and midwifery practices and the effects of the alarming Cesarean rate. This documentary also includes intimate footage of the birth of Lake’s second child born at home.
The Birthing State of Mind
One of the most common questions I’m asked is “How do you prepare for a home birth?” The answer is simple- like any other major life event. Having a home birth (or any birth) is sacred and both parents should prepare for such an event. I watched a video called How to Give Birth to a God (FinallCall.com) by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. This phenomenal lecture series reiterates the importance of thought and peace of mind before, during, and after the prenatal period. It transformed me (and my husband), and reminded me of how important my overall state of being (physical, mental, and spiritual) affects the unborn life inside. I, like many mothers and fathers that choose homebirth, yearned for something different. No bright lights, lab coats, stirrups, medications or fear. Just one rule…let go and let God. Cliché maybe, but true! A loving, comfortable, familiar environment…it amazes me just to even recall that glorious evening…
After our midnight walk, Afua and Ayanna (Afua’s lovely assisting midwife) ran some bath water to ease my contractions…They’re the best! I smiled as my husband took a picture of me and put on some John Coltrane. Ayanna asked, and I agreed, to dim the lights. It would add serenity to the natural pain of bringing forth life. I go from tub to bed, laboring with a room full of love. Five centimeters… the pain more intense, I squeezed my husband’s hand so hard (he later thought it was broken). Eight centimeters….no break in between contractions, I’ve spiritually left my body to call on a Power greater than me (trust me it’s the only real pain relief). I felt the little being inside move with this Power, shifting into position…his debut was near. One push, his head emerges… second push, it’s a boy! He cries as Daddy catches him in his arms, in our home, in our own time. Thank you God…
Alethea C. Muhammad
Alethea Campbell Muhammad is the Co-Founder of Crescent Visions, an organization created to reconnect families, businesses, and communities by providing an avenue of free networking and other unique opportunities. Please visit www.CrescentVisions.com for more info. Her book, The Divine Womb of a Diva, is coming to a store near you!
For more information on midwifery services, please contact Afua Hassan at 713-MIDWIFE.