Friday, November 7, 2014

Interview with Haille, Birth Boot Camp Instructor

I've had the great privilege to get to know Haille Wolfe through our local group of naturally-minded mommas. She is a wonderful lady with a beautiful family including her husband and five children! Haile teaches a unique type of birth preparation course called Birth Boot Camp. I got to ask her some questions and I'm so glad to share them with you now.

Here's Haille with her latest little one!

"If you don't know your options, you don't have any." - Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer, A Good Birth, A Safe Birth

Amie: Haille, tell me a little about Birth Boot Camp and what made you want to teach these classes.

One of the biggest barriers today’s childbearing women face is not knowing their options when it comes to how they will birth their baby. Sure, there are lots of blogs, books, and articles out there that can give you some ideas for how you’d like things to go. But where can moms go to get the complete, comprehensive information they’ll need to make informed birth decisions?

If you’re thinking you will learn everything you need to know at your OB appointments, then this may come as a huge wake-up call. Obstetricians are not birth educators – they have lots of patients and little time. This means when you go in for an appointment, it is not likely there will much conversation beyond checking on your general wellness. If the hospital offers a birth class, they will likely refer you there.
While a hospital class may be great to get a feel for the location where your baby will be born, they aren’t usually fully comprehensive. Often, a hospital class will give you a tour, an overview of the birth process, and explain hospital protocols. These protocols are not presented as “optional” – they are stated so that you know ahead of time what will be done. Mothers typically do not question the protocols. After all, they must be in place for a reason, right? The truth is that many routine practices at hospitals are simply that – routine. You need to know that you DO have the option to individualize your care based on your specific desires and needs.
So, where in the world can an expecting mother learn ALL her options? I’m so glad you asked!
I became a Birth Boot Camp instructor in July of 2013 so that I could help women in the Big Country prepare for birth. I chose to teach this curriculum because it is not only a thorough presentation of options, but it also provides couples with a whole tool-kit of techniques that can be used to achieve a natural birth. Here is what you can expect to learn in the 10 week series:
Even (or ESPECIALLY) women planning a medicated birth can benefit greatly from classes. Here’s why:
When you take a live class you also have peace of mind knowing that you are learning from a highly trained instructor who has actually birthed naturally herself. Because of my own experiences with natural birth, I can instill couples with authentic confidence that their body is capable of birthing a baby and that they are also strong enough to do it without the use of numbing medications. Mothers need someone to believe in them when society does not!
Another great thing about Birth Boot Camp is that it is easily accessible! I will always recommend taking live classes. However, if you are in an area that does not have an instructor (YET!), you can register for online classes. If you happen to be in my area, but are still too far away to come for class, or if you have a circumstance that prevents you from attending live classes, the online option is a great choice. I encourage anyone in my area who is interested in the online class to get in touch with me. I am passionate about birth education, so even if we aren’t seeing each other for classes, I still want to be available to answer questions and offer support and encouragement through your journey!

“We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” Laura Stavoe Harm

Amie: What do you think is the biggest challenge a mother faces in having a positive birthing experience?

I think the biggest challenge a mother will face during her birth is being rolled through a system of routines in protocols without ever getting the benefit of making her own choices through informed consent. Many procedures are done without a full explanation of the pros and cons of said procedure. Care providers are busy and often have a limited amount of time to sit down and talk about all the different effects a certain procedure may have on labor and the birthing experience. 

Most moms go into birth thinking they'll go to the hospital, go through labor and give birth vaginally. They don't anticipate the possibility of cesarean section. I think that if more moms knew that the cesarean rate in Abilene is more than double the rate recommended by the World Health Organization, they'd be inclined to educate themselves ahead of time in order to avoid an unnecessary c-section.

Amie: Do you think that there is a stigma against natural birth? If so, how do you think that will change?

The other day I read an article with a quote that I felt explains my thoughts on this perfectly:
 "Today's average childbearing woman thinks the notion of an unmedicated birth is the equivalent of suggesting that women should eagerly embrace torture."

So yes, I do believe there is a stigma against natural birth. Instead of our culture viewing birth as a normal and natural process, we view it as always perilous. My hope is that as women begin educating themselves and sharing their birth experiences (both positive and negative), it will encourage women to take back responsibility and ownership of their birth process. 

Amie: How should an expecting father prepare for his child's birth? 

As a birth educator, I FIRMLY believe that husbands benefit tremendously from a comprehensive birth class. If birth seems scary to most women, think about how our partners must feel? Education is the key to eliminating fear. Knowing how to help and when and why an intervention may or may not be needed makes the birth experience better for dad too.

Also, I think it's important for fathers to really listen their wife's wants and needs before the big day. Birth experiences impact our relationships - if your wife has a traumatic birth it directly impacts you, Dad. Hear out your wife's desires. If she feels that hiring a doula will help her have a better outcome, she is probably right. Let's not forget she will be the one birthing your baby. Give her the tools she needs to have a positive birth. 

Amie: What can he expect if his wife births naturally?

First off, he should expect for it to be work. Obviously more work for mama, but many fathers are surprised by how much work there is for him to do too. He should plan on preparing ahead of time so that he will be of use on delivery day. Expect to be there for her physically and emotionally and know ahead of time what that looks like. Most men do not ever attend a birth before the birth of their own child. 

Once she births naturally, and if he has been helpful in the process, he can typically expect for his wife to fall more in love with him than he or she ever thought possible. When left un-tampered, birth produces the highest amount of oxytocin (the love hormone) that a woman will ever experience. This initiates the mother/baby bond and strengthens the husband/wife bond. 

Amie: What has giving birth, five times now, taught you about yourself?

Haille: Having experienced birth both medicated and unmedicated, birth has taught me just how strong and intelligent I really am. That probably comes across as high and mighty, but I'm okay with that. I've been "delivered" by an OB and an epidural and had "okay" birth experiences. On the flip side, nothing left me feeling more powerful than the days I delivered babies through my own strength. And I'm intelligent not only because I researched and gained understanding of researched based care for myself, but I also trusted the knowledge of my own body to know what it needed to do in order to get a baby out.

Amie: If you could give one piece of advice to expecting moms, what would it be?

1. Get educated. Make decisions based on real data. Eliminate fears through knowing what to expect.
2. Find a supportive care provider. This includes knowing the right kinds of questions to ask your provider in order to know if they truly support your birth wishes. And don't be afraid to break up with them, no matter how much you think you love them. This is your birth, not theirs. No one has this baby's best interest at heart more than you. 
2. Get support. Make sure your husband has the tools and knowledge to support you during birth. Get a DOULA! A trained labor support person who stays with you for your whole labor can make the experience so much more enjoyable for both mom and dad. 

Amie: And to expecting dads?

Haille: Basically, the same advice I give the mamas. But also, when your wife asks about budgeting for birth preparations such as hiring a doula or taking birth classes, don't tell her it's a waste of money. I've heard this so much lately and it makes my blood boil. Even if that's what you believe, don't say it. It's hurtful and says to the mother of your child that you don't value her. Sit down and talk about possible ways to make it happen. I have never met a husband who regretting taking the steps to help his wife achieve a positive birth experience. 

Interesting in learning more? Visit Haille's website or visit her on Facebook. She is incredibly open and has such a desire to be of help to moms and families.

You can also find my birth stories here: Alex, Locke
And my own take on the importance of birth plans here, and a commentary on reasons for natural birth here.

Leave me a comment below and let me know: Did you take any formal birthing class? What was most helpful for you in preparing for your baby's birth(s)?

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