If you’re expecting, you’ve probably learned that just the sight of your baby bump makes other women want to share their own stories of pregnancy, labor and delivery.
I think it’s because pregnancy is such a life-changing journey, no matter how many children you have. What am I most proud of in the entire world? My kids. When I’m in a situation that requires strength or courage, I pump myself up by thinking about how I delivered my last baby without an epidural – which means I can do anything.
Although I loved the doctor who delivered my daughters, I’ve always been curious about what it’s like to use a midwife. I reached out to Lisa Rutledge, LM, CPM, a Woodlands-based midwife who helps mamas with everything from prenatal to postpartum care, including home birth.
One thing about Lisa that stood out to me right away is her passion for serving mamas-to-be. In fact, she says her own home birth helped her feel stronger and more confident as a mother, which I could totally relate to. I picked up a camera and decided to celebrate motherhood with other women because being a mama changed me from the inside, out.
I loved that serving women in this way is Lisa’s calling. It’s about more than prenatal care and helping a couple through labor and delivery; Lisa is passionate about educating and supporting parents-to-be.
In between her practice as a midwife and being a wife and a mama, Lisa graciously took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about midwife care. Here are a few of my key takeaways, followed by Lisa’s responses:
– Trust and relationship-building is a huge part of the midwife-patient experience.
– Some mothers may find that there is more flexibility during labor with a midwife vs. an OB-Gyn. For example, in a hospital setting, your physician may have guidelines regarding what/when you and eat or drink during labor. Lisa’s patients are invited to do what feels most comfortable.
– Unmedicated birth is totally possible!
01. What inspired you to become a midwife?
I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a midwife. In fact, 10 years ago, I didn’t even know midwives existed or that home birth was an option that women actually chose. But in 2010, the home birth of my first daughter was such an amazing experience that I felt stronger and was more confident as a mother. I wanted everyone to know that home birth is an option for low-risk women, and that with the right birth team and great support, unmedicated birth is achievable.
With a newly discovered passion for educating others about birth options, combined with my background as a teacher, I began teaching childbirth education classes in my home. That then grew into a doula business as I began offering labor support to couples in my classes. From there, God called me to the ministry and vocation of midwifery.
02. What are a few key benefits of using a midwife during pregnancy?
When a mother hires a midwife for her pregnancy, she becomes an individual with unique needs and desires. In the midwife-led model of care, the midwife is the primary care provider from the very first prenatal visit, to the labor and birth, and on into the first few weeks postpartum.
This continuity of care provides an opportunity for the mother and midwife to establish trust and build their relationship. According to a 2016 Cochrane review of midwife-led continuity models of care compared with other models of care for women during pregnancy, birth, and early parenting, women who receive midwife-led care are less likely to receive epidurals, episiotomies or other interventions, are less likely to birth pre-term, have a lower risk of losing their babies, have increased chances of spontaneous vaginal birth, and report more satisfaction with their birth outcome.
03. What is a typical checkup like?
For my clients, a typical prenatal checkup involves parking in my driveway and walking right into my office at the scheduled appointment time. From the moment a mother walks in the door to the time she leaves, all care and interaction is with me.
We begin with a review of history and any changes since the last prenatal visit, followed by a discussion of natural care options. Then we assess vital signs, weight gain, diet, and exercise. Finally, we measure growth and check position of the baby by palpating the mother’s abdomen.
During this time we also listen to the baby’s heartbeat with a doppler. The findings from the appointment are reviewed and the mother is given time to have any questions answered. At the initial visit and 28 week visit, we also do lab work. The whole prenatal appointment can take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes.
04. What is labor and delivery like for your patients?
Every labor and birth are different. I’ve been to births where the mother had been in labor less than an hour and to others where the mother had been laboring on and off for days. Each woman handles the labor differently – some labor quietly and some are more vocal. Some women choose to birth in water while others prefer to birth in bed or squatting on the floor.
The birth team for some women can fill the whole birth room, whereas some mothers prefer to labor with the sole support of her husband or partner. All laboring women are encouraged to eat, drink, move about freely, and to do what feels most comfortable and relaxing.
When the mother is in transition, another licensed midwife is called to assist for the birth. Fathers and partners are encouraged to help catch their babies.
05. What are a few things you wish more couples knew about using a midwife during pregnancy?
I wish couples knew how personalized midwife-led care is and that when they hire an out-of-hospital midwife during pregnancy, they are truly hiring the person who will be at their birth.
Occasionally I am asked about the cleanliness of home birth. My response is that mothers are birthing in the same environment that they are going to be bringing their new baby home to. Also, it’s not as messy as people think!
Once we (the midwives) have cleaned up, packed up our things, and started the laundry, you’d never know a baby was just born there. Also, should the need arise, midwives are trained to suture, are certified in CPR and neonatal resuscitation, and bring oxygen and medications to the birth.
06. What is the most inspiring birth story you’ve been a part of?
I am constantly amazed and inspired by the strength of all the mothers I’m privileged to care for. If you want to read inspiring birth stories, visit the Birth Without Fear Blog (BirthWithoutFearBlog.com) or read any of Ina May Gaskin’s books.