Babies Are Born Where They Are Born:
A Conversation with a Midwife about Not Handing Babies to Their Mothers
by Mary Esther Malloy
© 2013 Midwifery Today, Inc. All rights reserved.
[Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of an article which appears in Midwifery Today, Issue 106, Summer 2013. View other great articles and columns in the table of contents. To read the rest of this article, order your copy of Midwifery Today, Issue 106.]
As a doula, one of the questions I ask my pregnant clients is, “How do you envision the moment of birth?” Women respond differently, but something I hear over and over is the clear expectation and hope that doctors or midwives will deliver their babies to their chests for that first, long-awaited hello. With my first two children, I didn’t give it a second thought—I assumed my babies would be handed to me as they were born and, following two hardworking but straightforward labors, this is what happened. When I gave birth to my third child, however, this first hello with my baby went quite differently.
It turns out that some midwives are exploring other ways of facilitating the moment of birth. They are doing less and leaving more to the mothers. Valeriana Pasqua-Masback, a midwife with a thriving homebirth practice in the New York City metropolitan area, is one such midwife. Instead of placing my daughter on my chest as the midwives had done at the births of my sons, Valeriana simply guided my baby down where she emerged and left her there for me to explore on my own time.
On a recent autumn morning, I dropped my sons off at school, wrestled my almost-2-year-old daughter into the car and drove to Valeriana’s home in Rockland County, New York, to chat with her about why she is doing things differently at births these days.
“Let’s talk in the cottage,” she said as we pulled into her driveway. “My little guy is just waking up. I’ll be right out.” Valeriana, a fit, 60-year-old midwife, equestrian and self-described mad gardener, was on babysitting duty for her 6-month-old grandson. She hurried into the house while my daughter and I turned toward her impressive vegetable gardens and the cottage where she sees her midwifery clients.
Mary Esther Malloy, MA, is a New York City-based doula, Bradley childbirth educator and lactation counselor. She facilitates “Inspiring Birth Stories” nights for Choices in Childbirth and runs moms’ talk groups. With the help of her trusty assistants, ages 2, 8 and 10, she is something of a mad gardener herself. For more about Mary Esther, visit www.mindfulbirthny.com. You can read her daughter’s birth story at www.thebirthpause.com.
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