Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 9
Above left: Those who helped out in Florida worked in swampy conditions. Above right:
As the sun sets on another day, Jeff Dimond uses hand signals to communicate with fellow Barton
Left: A group of expectant parents attends a class covering helpful topics. Sessions like this let
parents learn topics such as how to use essential oils to help during pregnancy, ask questions
about newborns or talk to each other about parenthood. Right: Three-year-old Emalyn, who
was born at home, is excited to meet her baby brother and attend his home birth.
This setting also allows midwives to monitor several patients at a time, if the
need arises. "A lot of times you're probably not even aware of what we're doing,
but we are constantly evaluating you and the baby," says Jessica Curl, who
worked as an RN in Kansas City before stepping into midwifery in 2016. "If
there are any red flags, we'll make those interventions, but only if we have to.
"There are risks to home birth, even if they're minimal, but there's also risks
at the hospital that you're not exposed to at home," Jessica adds. "There's no
such thing as a risk-free birth. You have to decide what you're most comfortable with and feel the safest with." That's why midwives stress education.
Midwives believe in home births and natural delivery, but they also understand it's not the right fit for everyone.
"It's important to do your research," says Brenda. "Study and meet with different midwives. Talk to other people who have had home births. It's important
that the husband and wife both be on board with it. You want to make sure the
couple is in unity with their decision."
It's Brenda's hope to see more hospitals, health care providers and midwifery
all coming together in the future to do what's best for women and families. "I
think the focus needs to be safety and support of something that's normal and
natural," she says. "Let's uplift families."
Birthing classes are another thing they highly recommend. Many midwives
work alongside doulas, women who are professionally trained to lend emotional
and educational support to expectant mothers.
"I love my work teaching mommies and watching parents-to-be grow in confidence," says Shelly Burks, who lives in Springfield. She's been a doula for more
than five years, preparing couples for what to expect during labor and beyond.
She's also a busy mom herself, still homeschooling six of her children. "I don't
ever feel that I have learned it all. It is most certainly an ever stretching, growing vocation," she says.
It's only fitting the calling that revolves around hearth and home should also
affect the midwife's family too. Violet Stephens of Rolla, says much of what
she's learned through midwifery also has improved her family's health and
aided her in having nine babies herself. "I'm very blessed how well my work fits
into my family's day-to-day life."
She and her husband moved from Spokane, Washington, drawn to Missouri
mainly because of the freedom in education, midwifery and property rights,
Since completing her doula training in 2002 and becoming a midwife in 2010,
Violet has added fertility education/consultation and lactation support to her
list of services. She and her husband built their birth clinic - Olive Tree Midwifery - in the basement of their home, complete with an office, waiting area
and client room.
"It's comfortable and private and has equipment to perform point of care services such as ultrasound," Violet says. "Children and husbands often accompany mamas during their visits. On summer days, dads will often take little
ones around the farm to see animals, check out the garden and occasionally
take a bike ride during prenatal visits."
When that new baby you've been waiting for enters your life, you are forever
changed. Midwives, too, are impacted by their mission to serve others. Their
job also requires sacrifice. Sometimes, their personal lives also take a backseat.
"We pour a lot of ourselves into our patients. Our work carries a lot of responsibilities and the weight of people's lives are on our shoulders," says Eva Littrell. "And we don't take that lightly." The midwife began her career in her teens
and says she always knew this was what she wanted to do with her life. "It's all
I know," she says.
Even after attending more than 1,500 births, including helping bring some
of her own grandchildren into the world, Brenda is still amazed at the miracle
of birth and loves watching families grow. "Before you know it, another one
comes along. And then another," she laughs. "I've had some couples where I've
delivered six or seven of their babies at this point. And now those babies are
in their teens."
A midwife really does become a part of the family. New beginnings - of life,
motherhood and fatherhood - surround her daily work.
"I want to help make that event as positive as possible because it affects the
rest of our lives," says Brenda. "You can talk to women - whether they're in
their '80s or even if they have dementia - and they will still remember the birth
of their children. We all do. It really is a life-changing moment, every single
time. And I'm so glad to be a part of that."
For more information visit www.missourimidwivesassociation.org.
Kaiser is a freelance writer from Hartville.
Midwife Brenda Abercrombie listens to a baby's heartbeat during a first check-up following birth.
DECEMBER 2017 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - December 2017
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Intro
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Contents
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 4
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 5
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 6
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 7
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 8
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 9
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Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Cover4