'The most powerful experience:' Midwives provide an alternative birthing optionKatelyn Brinkman has given birth to three children, all at home and all with the help of a midwife. The youngest, Jarrik, arrived three weeks ago at her Mayville, N.D., home with her husband, Michael, assisting and sons Wesley, 1, and Matthew, 3, nearby.
By: Pamela Knudson, Grand Forks Herald
Katelyn Brinkman has given birth to three children, all at home and all with the help of a midwife.
The youngest, Jarrik, arrived three weeks ago at her Mayville, N.D., home with her husband, Michael, assisting and sons Wesley, 1, and Matthew, 3, nearby.
She credits an experience with her sister, who had her babies in a hospital, for steering her toward giving birth at home.
“I was there,” she said. “She looked like she was high — like she was on drugs. She was loopy, like she didn’t know what was going on.
“I wanted a different experience.”
She feels that having her babies at home is “more empowering,” she said. She wanted more control over what was happening.
Brinkman is in a low-risk category, in terms of pregnancy, she said.
“I really don’t like hospitals. When you go to the hospital, you’re sick. When you’re having a baby, you’re not sick. There’s nothing wrong with you. You don’t need to be fixed.”
She chose to receive care — prenatal to delivery to postpartum — primarily from a midwife, although she did see a doctor to alleviate a potential concern that may have affected her baby’s health.
Her 15-minute medical appointments did little to build a relationship, she said. “I didn’t feel anything about him one way or the other. I didn’t even get a phone call after I stopped going.”
She felt closer to her midwife, she said.
“The midwife is an advocate for you. And having a support team — people who encourage you — really helps.”
‘Most powerful experience’
When it came time to deliver, she “didn’t want doctors telling you what you can’t do,” she said. “I feel like giving birth is the most powerful experience of your life. You aren’t going to have another experience like it.
“It’s a no-brainer that I’d do it again.”
In her recent delivery, she moved from a tub to the shower and ended up on the floor. Having the option to move to different locations and find where she was most comfortable was “really important,” she said. “I was more comfortable out of the water, mentally, this time.”
The freedom of movement and taking time are important to her, she said.
“At home, you can go for a walk outside if you want to. You can do what you want to do — it’s your decision. Taking the time she needs is an advantage, in her mind that may not be extended in a hospital setting, she said.
She went into labor a week before her last baby was born. Then, “the contractions slowed down,” she said. “He wasn’t ready. My body wasn’t ready.”
Under the care of a midwife, “you’re not going to be induced,” she said. “You’ll have the baby when you’re ready and when the baby’s ready. If you wait until you’re ready, there are less complications.”
She questions the use of pitocin, a drug to induce labor, which, she said, “causes contractions that (are) abnormally strong. Your body would never produce it that high.”
Some problems that lead to C-sections, she said, would not occur if interventions of that nature were not initiated.
Her confidence in the midwife is strengthened by the equipment she brings to the birth, such as oxygen, a stethoscope and fetal monitor.
Did she worry about complications?
“No,” she said. “You have your plans B, C and D in place. Everything is planned out before you go into labor. It’s not a last-minute thing.”
Brinkman appreciates the close relationship she has built with the midwife.
“It’s more personal,” she said. “The midwife is more interactive with your family. They’re more likely to remember your baby’s name, and the time of day they were born.”
She said her family is “very low-income” and, since they have no insurance, the cost of child-birth would be out-of-pocket, she said. “Do we have an extra $200 a month lying around to spend on medical bills? No, we don’t.”
Her midwife, Rebekah Knapp of Fertile, Minn., is paid by donation. She asks only that families cover her gas. She doesn’t carry malpractice insurance and is not required to by the state.
“It’s a huge blessing to us” that care was provided on this basis, said Brinkman.
A home birth is $10,000 cheaper than a natural, vaginal birth at a hospital, she said. “You have to wonder why insurance companies wouldn’t be more supportive of midwifery.”
Peaceful, quiet and calm
The approach Brinkman has taken to bringing her babies into the world — more natural and without the use of drugs — resulted in no post-partum depression and a much stronger bonding effect, she said.
Moms who give birth at home are more likely to be successful with breastfeeding, she said.
“The whole overall atmosphere of a home, natural birth is much more peaceful. The baby is calmed.
“Think about where they’re coming from — it’s dark, quieter, more relaxed, there’s water. In a hospital, it’s loud, bright and cold. Often, they’re not given to the mom right away. No wonder they cry so hard.”
Possible career path
Brinkman feels so strongly about the field of midwifery that, as a student at Mayville State University, she’s considering pursuing a career as a midwife.
“This area has a big need for them,” she said. “I’ll probably get my nursing degree first. Once I have my degree it’s easier to get certification” as a midwife.
Having a baby at home is “transformative,” she said. “It changes how you have babies, how many babies you have and your whole perspective on it.
“Yes, it’s painful, but it’s all worth it in the end.”
Call Knudson at (701) 780-1107; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1107; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.