Meet Laurie Fremgen, Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). Laurie has been providing midwifery services in the Austin and surrounding area since 1996. She’s passionate about home birth, parents and babies, and we are excited to bring her perspective to Baby Proofed Parents, where we want to create a safe environment in which all viewpoints about birth and parenting can be openly discussed. I am proud to introduce Laurie for many reasons – the biggest being that she attended the births of both my children. Her strong, soulful, capable presence helped make both of their births the most powerfully alive moments of my life to date. Check out her beautiful website, HoneyDue Homebirth, for more information on her services and information on midwifery/homebirth. ♥ – Cheryl
BPP: What drew you to become a midwife?
LF: I think it was in my blood from a very young age. I used to pretend play when I was very little that my barbies would be pregnant and give birth. When I was a preteen, my Dad was in the hospital a lot and I had a cousin who work in Labor and Delivery. When I entered college, I was a pre-med student hoping to focus on either pediatrics or obstetrics. I very quickly realized I didn’t like the competitive nature. Just a few short years later, I became pregnant. This was before the days of the internet and I really wanted to have a homebirth, but had absolutely no idea how to go about it. I ended up with a very traditional hospital birth – induction, epidural, episiotomy – even though I had expressed my desire for a natural birth to my doctor, and I was not happy. Thus began my serious quest to discover a different way to have a baby.
BPP: If you could correct one common misperception about midwifery, what would it be?
LF: Midwives are highly skilled and highly educated people. We work very hard to become midwives and we work very hard in our job. I think many people in the medical profession don’t believe there is standardized training for midwives. Having a CPM certification – Certified Professional Midwife – is the equivalent to an advanced degree like a masters or a PhD.
BPP: Since there are many, would you correct another misperception?
LF: I also don’t think people realize that being a midwife is a specific lifestyle. We are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If we want to take a vacation, it requires planning a year in advance. This is a life of service and devotion. We get up at all hours of the night, in any weather, no matter how we feel to attend our clients. We miss birthdays, anniversaries, concerts, plays, games, recitals and quiet time with our families. We live with our phones, we are always accessible – we live and breathe midwifery. When a woman is a midwife, her entire family participates. We don’t complain because we all feel called to this profession.
BPP: In your opinion, what are a few top advantages to having a home birth instead of a hospital birth?
LF: I think the biggest advantage is that the woman gets to experience birth in the way Nature or God intended. Labor begins spontaneously, travels the course that is best for both mom and baby, and both are given the space to greet each other in a quiet, loving way. This sounds simple, but it is profoundly huge. If a woman is willing to face her fear, willing to face the pain, willing to face the uncertainty, she will be greatly and richly rewarded.
BPP: There seems to be a big divide between proponents of hospital births and home births. What do you believe could help close that gap?
LF: I believe that it is very important to respect each other’s approach. I always learn when I am in the
hospital – I learn from the nurses and the doctors. But the nurses and the doctors could learn so much from us too. Midwives are experts in birth. Nurses and doctors know managed birth, but many of them have never sat with a woman through the whole process, letting labor unfold without ANY intervention – from beginning to end.
BPP: How can parenting partners best support moms during the birth process?
LF: One of the most important things a partner can do is to tune into the needs of the laboring mom. The mom will intuitively know the position to be in, how to breathe and what she needs to do to get the baby out. If the partner can help her to tune into that intuition, that is the best support she can have. Supporting the mom isn’t about breathing techniques or positions of labor – although knowledge of those things can be helpful. Giving birth and supporting the mom is about being with the process and letting the process unfold.
BPP: What part of witnessing the birth process moves you every time?
LF: There is always a palpable moment of surrender where the woman goes from some degree of resisting the force of labor to just acceptance. It is profoundly moving to witness this.
BPP: What are the best resources (videos, books, etc) that expectant parents could reference for education on having a home birth?
LF: One of my favorite videos is called Birth Day. It is a short video of a midwife in Mexico giving birth to her third baby. You can see that she is working hard and she is so real about it. She noticed that when she was moving towards her husband during a contraction she felt less pain, but when she was moving away from him during a contraction she felt more pain. The labor process is an oxytocin experience. Oxytocin is the hormone of love and bonding, so this video clearly shows how important love is during a birth.
BPP: If you had to give one sanity-saving tip to new parents, what would it be?
LF: A baby is going to cry. If you are at the end of your rope, give the baby to your partner – trust that your partner can totally take of it – and go for a walk around the block. You will feel like a new person, ready to face the crying baby. The other thing I think is so important is sleeping with the baby. You can nurse and sleep at the same time.
BPP: Of all the births you’ve attended, which mom was the most amazing? (don’t answer that) :+)
LF: It is hard to say which ones are the most amazing. Each woman’s journey is so different, even though the framework of giving birth is the same. A woman who comes out the other end, seeing herself a little more deeply and who can take her experience and transform it into a force of love in this world is amazing. Each birth has that potential.
More about Laurie, midwifery and homebirth at HoneyDue Homebirth. ♥