Dec 20, 2008

Interview: Crystal teaches natural birth

Next person to be interviewed in our Living Naturally in Louisiana series is Crystal Garcia, 22 Ruston, LA. She is a natural birth instructor, mom, photographer and Tech graduate from Child Development.

Sirpa: Crystal, how did you become interested in the natural child birth?

Crystal: I first became interested in natural childbirth a couple years ago, while I was working on my degree in Child Development. It came up in my Infant Development class and I knew two of my professors that gave birth naturally and spoke highly of it. Soon after that my husband and I became pregnant with our first child I began looking into different methods of natural childbirth and felt that The Bradley Method was the best fit for us because it was focused on husband coaching, relaxation, healthy eating and preparation.

When my husband and I started the classes he did not really want to go and felt uneasy about even being in the room when our son was born. At the end of the class series he was confident and calm about the birth process. He was amazing during my labor and knew what was going on with my body. We grew so much closer through our birth experience and I wanted my friends, family and everyone to have that same experience that takes away fear and replaces it with education and empowerment. That is why I decided to become a Bradley teacher.

Sirpa: So your children were born naturally? How was it? Didn't it hurt?

Crystal: Haha, yes, both my children were born naturally. Josiah was born in August of 2007, he came 10 days past my due date and after around 32 hours of labor, 12 of which were at the hospital. His birth was difficult because I saw the on call doctor who was not in agreement with my plans to deliver naturally. He put a lot of pressure on me to deliver within a certain time frame and constantly gave me exams and pressured me to get an epidural. Autumn was born last month and came only a day past her due date and her birth was so much better. I still labored over 24 hours, but was only at the hospital for 2 and a half hours before she was born. This time I knew both my nurses and my Doctor and I had a birth plan in my chart so that I knew we were all on the same page. My birth team was very supportive and wonderful.

It did hurt, but the pain was manageable and by the time you think you may not be able to withstand the pressure it is almost over. Surprisingly to most people the most painful part of labor is pushing the baby out, and it is actually a time of renewed energy for most women!

Sirpa: Tell me about the Bradley method!

Crystal: The Bradley Method is a method of husband coached childbirth that emphasizes relaxation, preparation, healthy eating and physical activity. The class series is very extensive. It is usually 12 weeks long and covers all three stages of labor, coaching, nutrition, pregnancy exercises, birth plans, c-sections, newborn procedures, post-partumn, breastfeeding, emergency childborth (like what to do if your child is born in the car), choosing your birth team and more.

Like I said the classes are geared towards couples planning on having a natural birth but many couples take the classes when they think they may try natural or just to prepare in case it is not possible to get an epidural and to be informed patients.

Sirpa: What are the benefits of having your baby naturally (or with the Bradley method)?

Crystal: There are so many and they vary with each birth and woman. With interventions there is something known as the domino effect where one intervention leads to another and another. For instance, when a woman gets an epidural it often slows her labor so she needs Pitocin to make her contractions harder, which may put the baby at distress, which may lead to an emergency cesarean. When you labor naturaly you are at less risk of complications and the need for a cesarean.

Women how give birth naturally always have less problems establishing breastfeeding. Babies who get drugs via their mother's epidurals have shown decreased suckling reflexes up to the third month of life in one study.

For me my favorite part is that I stay in the comfort of my home with my husband at my side comforting me in any way I need. Then when the baby is born I breastfeed her and walk out of the room to my postpartum room, where I shower and have a meal. The recovery is just amazing with a natural birth and the feeling of empowerment as a new parents was amazing.

Sirpa: That sounds great. You must be concerned about how medicalized the birth has become these days?

I am because I know how beautiful and intimate birth can be for a woman and for a family. I also know that many of the "necessary c-sections" that put women and babies at risk are caused my interventions and women who didn't have the information they needed to make the right choices.

Sirpa: How could the situation be improved?

Crystal: One of the biggest ways for things to improve is for women to become informed consumers of obstetric services. This means that you should interview your OB before choosing one. Also avoid inductions unless medically necessary. Women are at a much higher rate of cesarean when they go in for inductions, and I feel like if more women knew this thety would avoid it. You must understand that birth is a business and if lots of women changed doctors and hospitals to find mother friendly maternity care, eventually things would change.

And lastly, go to The Birth Survey website fill out the information regarding your birth experience and join the Coalition for Improving Maternity Care in making information about providers and birth places available to women everywhere so that they can make informed choices. There is also an organization called The Birth Network that just opened a chapter in the Bossier area that people can get involved with to support birthing options locally.

Sirpa: What can parents interested in natural child birth do to prepare for their birth in Louisiana?

Crystal: Take a QUALITY birthing preparation class. Not a short class that gives you a hospital tour and shows a video, but a good informative class that will really make you prepared. There is a Bradley teacher in Shreveport, I teach in Ruston, and there is a new teacher that just started teaching in Monroe. If you are interested there also doulas around our area. Get a good physician. If you are in the southern part of the start you also have the option of using midwives in a birth center or at home. Look into all your options and do not settle for a practitioner who is nice that your coworker sees.

Sirpa: What kind of response have you received from your students so far?

Crystal: Well I have taught three 12 weeks class series so far and the response has been great. 80% of the couples from my classes who have given birth vaginally did so without pain medications and all students reported having learned so much from the classes. Most tell their friends what a great class it is whther or not your plan to give birth naturally. I have had the priviledge to attend some of the births, and they were all beautiful and even got to I photograph a couple of them. That is the great part about attending a Bradley birth; I can be there for support and to give the coach a break if he needs one, but mostly I watch the couple do what they were trained to do, which is work together to give birth to their babies. In the process I have captured some beautiful moments.

Sirpa: I had a possibly unnecessary c-section with my baby. What if you have already had a c-section, can you have another one naturally with the Bradley method?

Crystal: Ah yes! That would be called a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) and yes you can. I actually have had one couple in my classes planning a VBAC and on of my previous students is pregnant with her second planning a VBAC as well. The Bradley Method classes can help you find the right practitioner and birth place for you special circumstances, teach you poses and pregnancy exercises to help your baby get into the optimal birthing position and all of the other natural techiniques for labor.

Sirpa: So when will you teach your next class series now that your baby has arrived?

Crystal: My next class series starts the first week in January and I take only 5 or 6 couples per class so that everyone gets the individual attention they need. You can visit my website for more information on my classes and for my contact info!

If you know someone who you think should be interviewed for this series (or if you think YOU should be!), send e-mail to livingnaturallyinla @


justme27 said...

Very cool interview.

Anonymous said...

Oikein hyvä myös tämä haastattelu!
Odotan mielenkiinnolla myös jo seuraavaa haastattelua.
t. Sirpan äiti

JenPB said...

Though my second was entirely natural (I had a double subdural hematoma, so the induced after I'd begun dilating just to get me into brain surgery sooner) the anesthesiologist never arrived, so it was done without pain killer. And it was FANTASTIC!

The BEST words of wisdom that came to mind toward the end of delivery was the coach telling us, "Pain is about fear. Most people aren't in pain. They fear being in pain."

So I thought, "Does this REALLY hurt or am I afraid it's going to hurt?"

I thought about various broken bones and stitches and pulled muscles and pinched nerves I'd had (not to mention the three week headache I'd been experiencing most recently) and I thought, "Hmmm...this really isn't that bad!"

It was UNCOMFORTABLE, and, yes, painful, but it wasn't as bad as some of the traumatic injuries my body has faced. But for the rest of labor and delivery I was able to focus on the work at hand, the reward at the end. WONDERFUL!

Amanda said...

Love it, thanks! I've had two almost 10lb babies with back labor. No meds. Very empowering. But not something I could have just magically learned and done on my own. It took learning from others and labor support.