By Ifetayo White
I am grateful that the name of my business, CHOICES Birthing and Wellness Support, is a daily reminder for me of the gift of choice in my life. One of my most powerful memories is how a choice to learn and try something different changed my life and the lives of my children in ways unimaginable.
In 1970 right after the birth of my first daughter, I was dismayed to realize that I was clueless how to raise the curious, creative, intelligent and compassionate human being that I wished my child to grow into. Soon after expressing my desire to know a different way of raising children, I met my neighbor who just happened to be a specialist in early childhood development and education. Wow, did she not rock my world! My life and the growth of my baby fully bloomed as a result of the fundamentals of child development she taught and the choices for parenting that she offered me. The choice to seek and to learn a different way at this critical and vulnerable time in my life has empowered me to live by and to teach the wisdom of complementary and wholistic wellness and birthing support tools.
I had my first asthma attack and had my first shot of adrenaline and received my first inhaler at the age of 30 in 1975. The attending physician assured me that adult-onset asthma is usually a result of stress. Again, I had no idea what to do about the amount of stress that I had created in myself that had resulted in an inability to breathe. My tried and true stress relievers at that time had been smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, numbing my emotional pain by overdrinking, “fixing” everyone else, making an even more “perfect” home, family and body. You get the picture.
So in 1981 when a high school friend who had been practicing meditation for some years suggested meditation to me for the umpteenth time in 10 years, I finally heard her say that there was a way to reduce my stress that I had not accepted. Once again my life was changed forever by the choice to investigate something different. Beginning a daily meditation practice opened to me a world of people who were wise in ways of wellness and health and spirituality that was unconceivable. I can wholeheartedly share my true conviction that the choices that we make everyday — large and small — determine the quality of our lives.
It is my passion to teach and share wholistic and complementary choices in birthing, raising children, taking care of ourselves and others. So many times in speaking with pregnant mothers in Beaufort, I am amazed at the lack of information about the choices for birth available to them. Today, in our community, birthing moms and their families are being offered many more choices for safe and person-centered prenatal, labor and postpartum experiences. Out-of-hospital prenatal and birth education/preparation classes are available in our community and taught by qualified women with many years of experience. There are prenatal and other yoga classes in town that support expectant moms and there are a number of massage therapists and other bodywork practitioners who work with pregnant mamas. We have a hypnotherapist who will provide individual hypno-birthing preparation with expectant mothers in order to reduce the anxiety of childbirth, which contributes to a reduction of pain during labor.
Two OBGYN practices and Beaufort Jasper Comprehensive Health all employ the services of CNMs or Nurse Midwives who can support hospital births and often can provide the support needed for non-medicated births. With thoughtful choice of birthing primary care, a pregnant mother can experience a birth with a minimum of medical interventions and can have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.
Yes, it is possible to have a home birth and even a water birth in Beaufort! A licensed community midwife moved to our community this Spring who has many years of experience with home births. She is also licensed to provide home prenatal visits. Although the choice of birthing at a free-standing birthing center is not yet available in the Beaufort area, many mothers choose to give birth with the Nurse Midwives at the Birth Center in Savannah which provides the comfort of a homelike environment with a minimum of medical interventions.
Prenatal, labor and postpartum support is provided in our community by a number of certified doulas. The role of the doula is to provide consistent emotional and physical support to the mom before, during and after childbirth.
Never forget that everyday you have the power to choose — in birth and in life.
Ifetayo White is a certified doula (to Labor/ALACE), Reiki Master Teacher and well-life coach. She is the founder of CHOICES Birthing and Wellness Support (www.choicesbirthing.com) and The Lowcountry School of Reiki and Energy Healing Wisdom on Lady’s Island. Ifetayo can be contacted at 843-271-1923, firstname.lastname@example.org.