Midwife humanizes childbirth experience
Suzie Daggett interviews Vanita Lott, a Registered Nurse and Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) serving Auburn, Nevada City, Grass Valley and Yuba City areas. She graduated with honors and began her nursing career specializing in labor, delivery and newborn care. Vanita completed her graduate studies at the Frontier School of Midwifery in Kentucky and opened In Home Birth Center in Grass Valley.
How did you get interested in midwifery?
When I was 16 years old, I was reading an article on midwives – a term I had never heard of before – and I knew that is what I wanted to do. I went to a high school counselor and asked how I became a midwife – they had no idea, but told me to go to school and become a nurse first. So, I did just that. As a nurse, I have worked in hospitals for 14 years until I became a midwife and started my practice here in Nevada County.
What is a midwife?
The word midwife means “with women” – it is a type of care that is very personal – we create an intimate and personal relationship with the mother, child and father. We do many similar things with women as do obstetricians, such as lab and blood pressure tests, monitoring the fetus, yet in a more holistic manner. We spend time listening and personally getting to know the woman. We find out what is going on in her life – how are her relationships, her work scene, her finances, that may affect the pregnancy and birth. One of our mottos is to really listen to women, to really hear what is important to them. The more we understand her value system and terminology, the more her care can be tailored just for her and the more we can help her when she is in labor.
Why do women choose a mid-wife over an obstetrician?
There are many reasons. We have a lot of educated parents here who have studied the statistics of home vs. hospital birth, and prefer home births; we have those who are seeking a more personal and spirit-filled birth that is not found in a hospital environment; we have some whose religious background precludes them from using doctors; and we have some families who prefer a natural non-invasive life style. Nevada County has 10 times more home births compared to the nation. The women who choose a midwife tend to want more personal care and someone who will commit to being at their birth – no matter what time of the day or night! As a midwife, we are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is a lot of on-call time with a midwife and a birth assistant. About one month before the birth, we go on a home visit to determine how to find the house, what room is most comforting for the birth, does Mom want a water birth and many more details to ensure a safe and nurturing delivery.
What do you do to alleviate some of the fears of labor and birth?
I talk to the woman, listen to her, identify what her fears are and then address the fear. I feel that women in today’s society are inundated with negative messages about childbirth and about the female body. I work with the emotional reaction to their impending birth from a rational point of view with lots of information and if needed, relaxation techniques. Mostly it is listening to the woman’s story and supporting her. I feel that trust and relaxation are the keys to a healthy labor along with lots of water and comfort. When women are in labor, they tend to go internal and they will stop drinking. A dehydrated mom can make the birth more difficult. Our goal is to inspire trust in a woman as we support her through labor for an optimal and safe birth.
What is the difference between a hospital birth and home birth?
Birth is so precious and having the mom and the baby bond right away facilitates attachment which is critical to the survival of a child. At home where one is in their comfort level, where drugs and other invasive methods are used minimally, there is a real beauty and humanness that is preserved. In a hospital environment, that can get glossed over and not honored. Studies have shown that technological cultures like ours introduce technical interventions to birth because the culture uses birth (a powerful experience on the subconscious of the mother and the baby) as a way to reinforce the belief systems of that culture. I believe technology can really serve us as humans when needed and used appropriately, but the nature of relationships and connections in the family really needs to be protected at all costs. As needed, I refer patients to an obstetrician if they are a risk or in need of hospital care.
What do you get out of your practice?
I get a deep sense of satisfaction offering women an alternative that really supports them to trust their bodies. I feel I am creating a stronger society because when women trust their bodies and give birth normally and successfully, they are very empowered. I feel we need more empowered women to be strong mothers for their children.
Vanita Lott can be reached her office, In Home Birth Center, 477-7333. More information can be found at her Web site, http://www.midwife.nu
Suzie Daggett is the producer of Healing INsights on NCTV, and the publisher of INSIGHT, the Directory of Healing Arts Practitioners; she can be reached at 265-9255 or http://www.insightdirectory.com
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