We're featuring another Colorado midwife today. We couldn't be more thrilled to share the words and wisdom of Aubre Tompkins, who is a midwife and clinical director at Mountain Midwifery.
Why did you become a midwife?
The simple answer is because I could not do anything else and be happy, fulfilled and productive. I discovered midwifery during the pregnancy of my eldest child, prior to that I don’t really think I had ever consciously heard the word. However, once the seed had been planted with my own experience being supported by midwives, I was hooked for good. The path was long and sometimes difficult but it was always clear to me what that path was; to be with and support women.
What is one thing you wish first time moms knew about birth?
That the birth is only the beginning! It is easy to focus so intently on the labor and birth that the postpartum period can often be overlooked. Plan a birth that will allow undisturbed contact between Mama, Baby and Partner; this is critical. In these first few hours, you will lay down the groundwork for successful breastfeeding, bonding and a peaceful transition for the newborn. When choosing your birth setting, be sure to inquire about postpartum and newborn practices and protocols. Choose a provider and setting that will easily facilitate these critical moments in the immediate postpartum.
If your journey necessitates a cesarean birth, get that baby skin to skin with Mama as soon as possible and keep them there as long as possible. I love the work being done on woman-centered cesarean in the current maternity culture. Discuss this with your provider ahead of time and make plans accordingly.
Finally, do not be afraid to ask tough questions; your provider should be open to discussing all of your concerns and questions. If you feel unsupported, overly rushed through all of your visits or even feel sad or confused every time you leave your appointments do not be afraid to change providers. Remember that you are the consumer and have hired this provider, if the relationship is not working you are under no obligation to remain.
What are some of the more effective pain management techniques you see woman use?
In my opinion, the most effective pain management technique begins with choosing your provider and birth setting. When women feel secure, calm and well supported labor will hurt less and progress more effectively. This is because when in a conducive environment, her natural endorphins (natural pain relievers) will increase and her stress hormones will decrease. So be honest about your desires. If you desire a natural, drug free birth be sure to choose a provider and setting that will truly support you in making that happen.
After that, I am a huge fan of movement and hydrotherapy. It is much easier to work with labor when you have freedom of movement in an undisturbed manner and the use of hydrotherapy, or water immersion, can work wonders! At Mountain Midwifery Center, we have also had success with the use of Nitrous Oxide. It is not for every Mama, but it can be a wonderful tool for some. Nitrous can be used in the birth pool, at the bedside, on the toilet; basically anywhere that the woman feels comfortable. Additionally, it does not interfere with the natural course of labor and is safe for both Mom and Baby.
What is the best thing a doula/birth partner can do for a laboring mom?
To be present. It sounds simple but it is so true. Be there for her, be open to her needs and be flexible. Oftentimes, I have seen women need the exact opposite of what they thought they would want. For example, a Mama who thought she would love lavender and music discovers that silence is perfect and lavender makes her gag. Or, that magic spot to rub on her back all of a sudden becomes the worst place to touch. I tell all of my Mama’s that they do not have to be polite in labor and to be vocal about what they need in each moment. For this, the doula and birth partner need to not take anything personally and be ready to respond accordingly.
Also, laughter can work wonders! Try to keep the mood light and don’t be afraid, when appropriate, to crack some good jokes. Laughing and smiling releases oxytocin and relaxes the jaw and throat which will in turn relax the cervix.
Aubre Tompkins, CNM, is a midwife and the Clinical Director at Mountain Midwifery Center in Englewood. Mountain Midwifery Center is the oldest, accredited free standing birth center in CO and has been open since 2006. Aubre lives in Denver with her husband and three children. She and her husband are happily turning their home into an urban farm of sorts and love spending time in the dirt, both in the garden and on the hiking trail. You can find more information about Mountain Midwifery on their website. Feel free to contact Aubre with additional questions at 303-788-0600 and firstname.lastname@example.org