Candles flicker around the room, a soothing back rub is administered, words of encouragement are uttered, and somewhere in this idyllic scene a woman becomes a mother.
Such is the case for home delivery as described by a new business called Full Moon Midwifery. The clinic, used for pre- and postnatal checkups, opened May 20th in Chickasaw Oaks Plaza.
Staffed by certified professional midwives Kim Ray and Amy Stewart-Banbury, Full Moon offers an alternative to traditional hospital deliveries by bringing the hospital to the patient.
"We take care of the whole woman, respect the differences in women, and stress safety throughout the entire process," said Ray, who is currently completing a nursing program at Methodist University Hospital.
Perhaps the most important feature of midwife deliveries is the absence of epidural or contraction-enhancing drugs. The owners say their method is less risky.
"Women's bodies are designed to have babies naturally, and because delivery through a midwife has less interventions, it means less problems," said Stewart-Banbury.
Less invasive care also means less cost, with a home delivery costing $2,200, including the pre- and post-checkups. Full Moon accepts insurance, but most insurance typically pays only a portion, if any, of midwifery expenses.
"There has been a stigma attached to midwives for a long time in this country," said Ray. "Our society needs to start pushing this type of delivery."
They admit their service is not for every woman, but the trend throughout the United States is increasing. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the percentage of all births delivered by physicians in hospitals has continued to decline to 91 percent in 2001 compared with almost 99 percent in 1975. Births by midwives have increased from 1 percent to 8 percent in the same period.
Probably the most asked question regarding homebirths: What happens to the mess left after delivery?
"With natural births there's not a lot of blood like you see on television because we do not cut the mother to extract the baby," said Ray. "There's just amniotic fluid and the placenta." Sterile pads collect the waste. The placenta is placed in plastic bags and frozen. "The families usually bury them in their backyards," said Banbury.
Full Moon expects its first homebirth in June. n