delivered more than 100 babies. A trained lactation consultant since 1996, Reynolds also helps new mothers with breastfeeding. She’s the first to admit she absolutely loves babies. “Since I was a very young girl, I’ve felt it was my calling to be a mother and then a midwife. When everyone else’s Barbies were dating, mine were having babies,” smiles Reynolds, who’s had six children, the last two born at home with a midwife. “I feel women are much more open to midwifery now,” says Reynolds. “There was a movement in the 1970s that kind of fizzled out, but now there’s a huge movement toward midwives that started about five years ago.” For women who don’t wish to give birth in a hospital but aren’t totally comfortable with doing so at home, another option is the Ocala Birth Center, which Reynolds opened last June. It became a Florida licensed birth center in March 2013. With a home birth, Reynolds brings all of her equipment to the mother’s residence, while the birth center offers a home-like setting with all the necessary equipment in place. Reynolds maintains a relationship with a local physician for consultation, but she’s found it’s not usually necessary to transfer a mother to the hospital. In the case of a true emergency—or if the mother simply chooses—she can quickly be taken to Munroe Regional Medical Center, which is mere minutes from the Ocala Birth Center. “Childbirth is a natural biological function, not an illness or disease,” Reynolds observes. “I’m glad for the training I have, and I’m all for
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interventions when necessary for safety, but birth can be very natural and safe.” Roughly 25 percent of Reynolds’ mothers opt for a “water birth,” in which the latter stages of labor—and even the birth, if desired—take place in a shallow pool of warm water between 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. “Many women use it for pain relief,” notes Reynolds. “We refer to it as an ‘aquadural’ instead of an epidural because the pool helps them get through labor with less pain. If they stay in the pool and deliver there, it’s a smooth transition for the baby, who has been living in a fluid environment for nine months.” In a water birth, the midwife typically lifts the baby out of the water within 10 seconds or less of delivery and places the newborn on his/her mother’s chest with the umbilical cord still attached.
NOT FOR EVERYONE
Not every mother-to-be fits seamlessly into the midwifery model. If a first-time mother in her early 40s approached a midwife practice, she’d probably be referred to an OB/GYN physician, simply because having a first child at that age raises the chance of complications. Using a midwife is best for healthy mothers who have low risk pregnancies. “The state of Florida requires each woman go through a screening process to make sure she’s in a low-risk category before using a midwife,” explains Reynolds. “My husband, James, and I watched the documentary The Business of Being Born, and that really opened our eyes to the thought that home birth was possible,” says Melissa Auten, whose first child, Miles, was delivered at home on March 8 by Reynolds. “I didn’t want to go to the hospital; I just wanted a more natural experience without all the medications and to have more control over our labor and birth,” she adds. “It was wonderful; we couldn’t have asked for a better midwife or experience. I would do home birth with another baby. If a woman is healthy and low risk, home birth is an option.”
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