Category Archives: Parenting

Early C Section in Arkansas

What’s a Doula? You have Options.

When it came to birthing babies, I knew I didn’t want to do it in the hospital.  I had all 4 of my sons at home with my dear midwife who is still one of my best friends almost 20 years after the birth of my first son.

Pregnant with Ben 2005
Pregnant with Ben 2005

Now I can’t remember how I knew that I could have a midwife assisted birth.  It seems to have been something I knew about all my life.  I realize that many people don’t even realize that birth doesn’t have to be done in a hospital setting, and probably even less realize that you can hire a Doula to help you with your birth whether you choose a hospital or a home birth.  I didn’t know what a doula was until I was in my late 20s, early 30s.

Before we go any further I want to say that I am grateful that we have hospitals in the event of complications in the birth process.  It is tremendous to know that if something goes wrong there is a place where people are trained to handle those emergencies.

The midwife assisted c-section rate in Arkansas is 3%.  Nationwide the midwife assisted c-section rate is between 3 to 4.4%.

That means 4 women out of 100 have major cesarean section surgery with a midwife.  Nationwide.  Pretty good odds.

Here in Arkansas in hospitals, the rate of c-sections (in 2012) was 35.7%.  That’s 11,486 general anesthesia, cesarean sections in one state in one year.

That means 36 women out of 100 (or more than 1 in 3) have major cesarean section surgery if they give birth in a hospital.  Wow. 

Zach holding Baby Ben just before he was born.
Zach holding Baby Ben just before he was born.

There are lots of reasons for that that I won’t go into right now.  Suffice it to say that just with those numbers if you are in your child bearing years, you might want to weigh your options.  Or maybe you didn’t know you had options.

In Europe, midwives attend over 70% of births.  In the U.S. 7.9% of births are attended by midwives.

The United States is 36th in the world for infant mortality rate among developed countries.

What are we doing wrong?

Well, it’s complicated.  I won’t go into depth about the complexities right now, but I will say that our babies are coming too early.  Whether it is a planned cesarean, or a poverty stricken mother unable to carry her baby to term.  We need to care for our mothers better and stop treating birth like an emergency (unless it is one), and more like a process.

Newborn Ben, born at home
Newborn Ben, born at home

I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax in the cold white, cement block walls of an institution with people I didn’t know running in and out of my birth room on their own agenda, peeking up under my carriage and feeling around whether I was ready or not, telling me I had to lay down so they could monitor my progress from the nurses station.  Giving birth was the most primal thing I have ever done in my life.  I wanted to do it at home, moving around at will, standing, squatting, pacing, surrounded by people I love (my mom, husband, kids, friends, midwife), while my mom baked cinnamon rolls.

That’s how we do birth at the Finn house.

And I’m loud when that baby is coming out.  There is a sound that comes out of a woman when she is giving birth that is like the portal between two worlds.  If I hear that sound now it makes me cry.  I’ve heard a similar sound in the wailing after the passing of loved ones.  It’s uncanny, and I could never imitate or recreate that sound again.  It’s like something opens up inside of you that is not of this world.

I can’t imagine doing that in a hospital.

I can imagine that if I were in a setting where I didn’t feel free to open up my body and turn completely inward, supported by the people I love, that I would be more susceptible to needing a c-section.  If I couldn’t move about the way my body wanted me to, if I had to submit to timed cervical examinations, if I were self conscious about what was happening, I know I would have been more susceptible to having a c-section.

Some people just feel more comfortable with the idea of giving birth in a hospital where all the emergency equipment is (midwives also carry emergency equipment, but not for major surgery).  And we’re lucky now to have more options with the Birth Center that just opened up in Northwest Arkansas.  That way you get the best of both worlds, a medical facility with mama and baby centered care in a comfortable setting.

Early C Section in Arkansas
Early C Section in Arkansas

On April 28, 2014, Arkansas Medicaid Director William Golden said “nearly half of the babies born in the hospital statewide in 2009 were born prior to 39 weeks because of elective delivery. Frankly, the data was pretty bad,” Golden said.

All of these things just to say that you have options.  Just because the majority of births happen in the hospital in the United States doesn’t mean that it’s been good for our mortality rates.  More information is better.  And we are fortunate to live in an area with a thriving community of midwives, doulas, and educators about birth.  (But we also live in an area where the medical school UAMS has a 39% c-section rate, and one of the main birthing hospitals has a 35% c-section rate).

Which brings me back to what I really wanted to talk to you about in the first place.  I love Jessica Crass.  She has worked with us at I.M. Spa for 3 and a half years and we are so lucky to have her.  She is a talented massage therapist, ex-social worker, traveler, and farmer.  Last year after helping a good friend through her birth process, the attending midwife, Jennifer Creel (from Terra Tots) mentioned that Jessica should consider training as a Doula.

Jessica is a member of DONA International and Northwest Arkansas Doula Connection.  She has one more birth to attend to be a certified Doula, trained to offer physical, educational, and emotional support during the months leading up to birth, as well as during the birth process.

If I were ever going to have a hospital birth I would definitely want a Doula, somebody who knows my birth plan, who knows what I want and don’t want, somebody whose sole job is to help me make it through the marathon that is birth.  I would want somebody who knew the ropes sticking up for me when I’m not in the best position to stick up for myself.

And if I were to have another home birth(which ain’t ever gonna happen again praise the lord.  I love the birth process, but enough is enough), having a Doula would be icing on the cake in the supportive atmosphere of my home.

If you are examining your birthing options, don’t rule out a midwife assisted birth, because it is by the numbers the most reliable, best track record kind of birth you can have.  But also, consider hiring a Doula.  There is so much to learn about birth, and there are so many decisions to make.

Giving birth is like running a marathon.  You need a support crew on the way.  You can do it!  Go team!  Go team go!

Our whole family after the birth at home
Our whole family after the birth at home

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

10 Things Every Boy Needs

Every year in July my sons go to Arkansas Interfaith Choir Camp at Subiaco Abbey in Subiaco, Arkansas (close to Paris, AR).  From a mother’s perspective, singing in the choir is one of the most awesome things my boys can do.  Choir Camp is an amazing thing for them to experience.  It gives them life skills that every boy needs.

Church singing Saturday Morning at Choir Camp
Church singing Saturday Morning at Choir Camp

 

 

  1. For my sons to have strong men singing in the choir as role models is priceless.  I couldn’t hope for a better image for my boys to have of what good men do in our community.  There are so many outlets and celebrations of the violent, domineering, aggressive way of being male in our culture that choir culture has given our family a fabulous balance.  Yes son, there are other ways to be masculine that don’t involve guns.

    The Church at Subiaco
    The Church at Subiaco
  2. Having a commitment to our church choir gives them a sense of being valued in our community.  They have a job to do.  The church needs them.  Their voice is important.
  3. Choir Camp gives my sons abilities to perform in leadership roles, to learn interpersonal relationships, and practice those skills with their peers, guided by loving adults from their community who care about them.
  4. Choir camp gets my crazy boys all up on stage, in front of people in a way that is not invasive or scary.  They perform a broadway production every year with opportunities to have leading or supportive roles.

    Sean Goofing around with Friends at Choir Camp
    Sean Goofing around with Friends at Choir Camp
  5. Gives my sons a sense of belonging.
  6. Gives them the experience of being a part of the team.  Yes you are important and yes the team is important.  Gives them a purpose bigger than self.
  7. Gives my boys the opportunity to flex their creativity, explore their voice, and express themselves.
  8. Choir (and Charlie-our choir guru) teaches my sons that singing is a great way to express joy and gratitude.  How awesome is that?  I know, right?

    Beloved Charlie the Choir Guru at St. Paul's
    Beloved Charlie the Choir Guru at St. Paul’s
  9. Choir in church can lead to choir in high school, which every boy knows is where the girls are.  And there is nothing more sexy to young women than strong young men who can sing and dance.
  10. Choir is helping to turn my sweet boys into more well rounded young men.

 

Final Broadway Number
Final Broadway Number
Zachs Group Having Fun
Zachs Group Having Fun
The Pool at Subiaco
The Pool at Subiaco
Zach practices hand bells
Zach practices hand bells
Shenanigans on the Waterslide at Choir Camp
Shenanigans on the Waterslide at Choir Camp

 

 

 

 

 

Me and My Boys after Choir Camp 2014
Me and My Boys after Choir Camp 2014

 

I am so grateful for this community that provides a safe haven for my boys, guidance, a sense of responsibility, and belonging that seem so absent in our culture right now.  Our family is fortunate to be surrounded by such great, loving people.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.