All About Birth in Inwood
Last night, Choices in Childbirth hosted its first All About Birth workshop in Inwood. A packed room gathered at Dichter Pharmacy & Soda Shoppe for the topic, “Comfort & Coping Options in Birth”, facilitated by Laure Sinnhuber-Giles. We welcomed a tremendous panel of speakers, including doula, Rebozo artist, prenatal yoga instructor and certified lactation counselor Alicia Suarez, and three new sets of parents to talk about what worked for them during labor. The primary concern from our expecting parents last night was, “How do I manage in the hospital to not feel pressured into accepting interventions I don’t want?”
Jacqueline shared her hilarious account of her birth last year to baby Peter. Her induction one week after her due date, with midwives, was not her Plan A, but she accepted the risks and realities of this change in plans and with the support of her husband, her midwife, and during the final pushes, her doula, Jacqueline had a natural birth. She used movement, a hot shower, and lion-like vocalizations to get her through the labor and urged women in the room last night to go into their labor confident in their abilities to birth.
Janet had planned on a free standing birthing center birth with midwives for her first baby, but it ended in a cesarean section at a hospital. She had a very supportive team including midwives and doulas and her husband, but feels that the lack of privacy from having almost “too much” support kept her from being able to cope well. For her second birth, she hired a home birth midwife who could support her in a VBAC. Her second labor was a much faster, much more private affair. Although she did not like the tub of hot water that she hoped to use, she had the freedom to use any coping tools she wanted without feeling self-conscious. Vocalization was key for Janet. Her 4 year old son sat in the corner quietly playing with the iPad as her newborn daughter let out her first cries.
Funnya and her husband Peter worked with an OBGYN throughout the pregnancy. Funnya had had this provider as her gynecologist for years and felt very close to her, despite the fact that the hospital in which she worked did not have particularly inspiring statistics in terms of pain medication, cesarean rates, or induction rates. However, she felt 100% supported in her desire to have a natural birth. Funnya’s labor was a class “prodromal” labor, one that lasted for days. Her labor would kick up at night, and slow down or disappear completely during the day. After several days with barely any sleep, Funnya’s labor finally started to feel more real. Her doula joined them at their home and supported her in ways that Funnya felt her husband no longer could – touch, encouraging words. They traveled to the hospital and Funnya had a completely unmedicated labor.
Alicia wrapped up our evening by demonstrating a variety of coping techniques, such as hip compression, belly lifts, and Rebozo work. Rebozos are traditional Mexican shawls that can be positioned on and around a woman’s body during labor (or prenatally) to aid in repositioning babies and relieving discomfort. All of the parents in the audience got to try these shawls and physical techniques.
In answer to the initial question about not feeling pressured into accepting interventions that aren’t desired, Choices in Childbirth’s common thread in all of our workshops is that the provider one chooses for their birth is one of the most important factors to consider. Women need to feel that they can trust and be trusted. With so many coping techniques available at home, in birthing centers, and in labor & delivery wards, there is every reason to feel confident about birth: massage, darkness, privacy, cool spaces, hydrotherapy, eating and drinking as needed, using pillows, having a doula, deep breathing exercises, mantras, singing, music, and yoga balls, to name just a few.
We look forward to bringing more workshops uptown and elsewhere!