For pregnant Mamas – especially those who are giving this a go for the first time – all the questions surrounding birth can be very overwhelming. (What kind of birth do you want? Have you fully prepared? Where are you going to deliver? Have you taken a tour? Have you written a birth plan? etc). There is no 1 way, or right way, to have a baby and as many of you will come to realize, both in planning and outcome – having a baby is kind of like an art – not a science. Yes, it’s biology – but with all the options out there, you might find yourself picking and choosing as if you’re in a cafeteria.
For the pregnant Mama that has resolved to have an unmedicated birth or if you’re trying to avoid as much medical intervention as possible, here is a list of resources in the Pittsburgh area to help you achieve your birth goals:
1. The Midwife Center for Birth & Women’s Health – if you’ve ever thought about having a home birth, then this location might just be for you. The Midwife Center is southwestern Pennsylvania’s only licensed and accredited freestanding birth center offering well-woman gynecological care, prenatal care and childbirth in a warm and supportive birth center. Their staff is guided by the philosophy that a woman should be in control of her own health care, including her birth experience and they have a “Birth Center Birth Option” that you will not find anywhere else.
2. Midwives at Magee – The centuries-old word “midwife” describes a woman who is “with women” at birth. Today, the term means a philosophy that focuses on the specific needs of women, offering a variety of care options to minimize unnecessary interventions. I have talked to many women and doctors, as I’ve navigated the birthing options myself here in Pittsburgh, and everyone I talk to has said nothing but good things about the Midwives at Magee.
Now, if you’re a healthy expectant mother, having a normal pregnancy, and you have no medical or obstetrical risk factors, then I think the first two resources will put you off to a great start. And of course, they can give you more resources from there. But in case you’ve by-passed the midwife option because you really love your obstetrician and you’re thinking “I can do this without drugs” I would recommend that you increase your chances of obtaining that goal by adding in an extra layer of preparation in the form of a birthing class – perhaps The Bradley Method® kind.
The Bradley Method® teaches natural childbirth and views birth as a natural process … mothers are encouraged to trust their body and focus on diet and exercise throughout pregnancy; and it teaches couples to manage labor through deep breathing and the support of a partner or labor coach. Dr. Bradley believed that women, like the non-human animals he had observed growing up (Dr. Bradley grew up on a farm), could give birth without drugs or distress. Based on observations of perspiring mammals during labor and birth, he developed a childbirth method to teach women to do the things that animal mothers do instinctively.
Wikipedia has a great summary of Dr. Bradley (and some of the concepts behind this method) which you can find by clicking here.
3. If you think the Bradley Method may be for you, I have personal experience with the following instructors (who serve Allegheny County) and highly recommend them: Samantha & Brett Booth.
4. The Bradley Method® will give you all the tools and preparation that you need leading up to game day (it’s kind of like hiring a personal trainer for your birth), but after that you’re on your own. If the thought of that scares you or leaves you still feeling a little unprepared, then you might also consider hiring a doula.
Now you’re probably wondering what the heck is a doula? The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period. I have highlighted and italicized the word “continuous” because that is what will separate a doula from a midwife (not necessarily always – you may find a midwife who acts as a doula; but for the most part, a doula is someone who will be by your side, potentially rubbing your back and more, while in labor).
5. If you’re looking for a doula in Pittsburgh, the greatest collection of them can be found here: Blessed Arrivals.
6. For those of you who enjoy reading, the book “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” is a great find. The book starts off with the experiences of women who have had natural, at home, childbirths and then continues on to talk about medicine, maternal care in the United States and more. Everything discussed or suggested in the book might not be for you, but the information is interesting, easy to read, and perhaps you’ll find a thing or two to help you on your baby’s birthday (for example, did you know that stimulating your nipples during labor can help progress a ‘stalled labor?’) The Amazon reviews for this book speak for themselves; at the time of this writing, 579 people, out of 675, give the book 5 stars.
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that giving birth can be overwhelming. So this list of resources is going to stop here because I’m trying to be comprehensive and not overwhelming (there’s a fine line). If you have any questions or need more information, please feel free to click on the little envelope to the right and send me an email (or find me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MaternityGirl and send me a message). As I tell all my clients: I’m sending you warm wishes for a fast and healthy delivery!