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Opening the Doors on Natural Childbirth
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In Italian, dare la luce, a phrase that literally means “to give light,” is used to allude to the act of a woman giving birth. Natural childbirth, a concept that seems so foreign today, has been replaced with a delivery process that takes place behind closed doors in a steely gray, windowless room. The physical labor has been removed from the woman by performing quick, convenient C-sections, often for the doctor’s sake of avoiding liability in the event that something might go wrong. Laura DePreta, a Bradley Method® childbirth educator, is shedding light on childbirth options, which empower pregnant women and their partners in making educated decisions on how they will bring forth a new life into the world.

What’s so green about having a baby naturally? Everything – it’s about taking responsibility and making healthy decisions for yourself and your family. As a society, we’ve become so detached from nature, that we even have lost sight of something so primal as how to give birth – something women’s bodies are made to do naturally.
Pregnant, young, and unwed in the late 80s, DePreta found herself at a maternity/child birthing center on the upper east side of Manhattan; it was here that she fell in love with her independence as a woman. The center was set-up so that the women were involved from every aspect of the birthing process, even before the physical labor began. DePreta recalls measuring her own weight, recording her own urine analysis results, and reading her own charts, under the guidance of trained midwives. The emotional support she received from her boyfriend at the time was peripheral, physically present but also in the dark on what to expect.

A self-proclaimed quitter, DePreta quickly realized you can’t give up when giving birth. “I learned to understand what was happening to my body, what stage I was in, how to surpass the next level of pain, and to keep going until you reach the release of a new life. Giving birth is exhilarating, our bodies heal, and a natural amnesia occurs that allows you to forget the pain,” says DePreta.

Each of her three childbirths differed in time and intensity; every birth has many variations. For her third child, DePreta trained in the Bradley Method, in which she delivered in the comfort of her own home, with her husband coaching her, and a midwife present with oxygen, scale and other equipment. Her daughter was born within three hours.

There are many birth training classes available, Lamaze probably being one of the most well-known. What makes the Bradley Method different from others is the focus on the father as a coach. DePreta emphasizes, “It is imperative to create a safe place to give birth. When you are in such profound pain, you feel anything but safe. You go through the preparation and you work out a birth plan, but in that moment, you want the guidance and reassurance that you will get through this.”

The Bradley Method encompasses a thorough education on enlightening the expecting couple to be the most informed medical consumer – learning the pros and cons of an epidural, knowing when a C-section is a legitimate option, following a protein-rich diet, learning effective exercises for birth, recognizing the stages of labor, and understanding recovery time.

Typically, when a woman gives birth vaginally, she is able get up and walk within an hour after delivery. Some women not only suffer from the labor, but often at least two weeks recovery time with a c-section. She may also experience allergic reactions to the pain relievers and medicines which can result in hives. The thought of an epidural needle being threaded through the spine can be hard to swallow. The baby also absorbs some of these drugs into his blood system, which can make it more difficult to breastfeed.

There is so much in the news about over-testing, over-medication, vaccinations, and how much is needed versus how much is wasted, especially when it comes to healthcare dollars. The U.S. still rates an abysmal 29th in infant mortality, even though we spend the most on care.

Most often, as with many journeys, the road traveled is just as important, if not more than, the destination. Childbirth is a delicate chemical and physical process happening inside the woman’s body. The feel-good hormone oxytocin is released as the baby passes through the birth canal which promotes a love bond between mother and child. When C-sections are performed (currently the rate is 30-40% of U.S. births are cesarean, and in Fairfield County almost 10% more than the national average), the production of oxytocin is not as strong, which has undoubtedly been linked to the increase of women suffering from post-partum depression.

“Our culture has taught us to numb pain, both physical and psychological. When we numb labor contractions, we interfere with the physiological and emotional processes of giving birth. If a woman listens to the messages her body is sending her and she merges with the process instead of fearing it, she will transcend as a human being in a way that has never happened to her before,” says DePreta.

Something is lost when we no longer witness how nature works. Understanding natural birth options restores this innate confidence in our bodies, each other, and nature. This illumination may lead to greener parenting methods as well, especially when it comes to decisions about your child’s health.

Laura DePreta, a certified Bradley Method instructor, offers classes to expectant mothers and their partners in her home in Stamford, CT. She often creates a class when there is a need.

Learning the Bradley Method with Laura DePreta, click here. Contact Laura at (203) 329-8093 or laurer@optonline.net.

Images courtesy of Laura DePreta.

By Michelina Docimo

http://ctgreenscene.typepad.com/ct_green_scene/2010/04/opening-the-doors-on-natural-childbirth-.html#more

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3 Comments to “Opening the Doors on Natural Childbirth”

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