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How to Prepare for your Central Arkansas Homebirth

Updated: Nov 23, 2020

Little Rock Midwife performs prenatal checkup in home

This week is National Midwifery Week. You can learn more about midwifery as a birth choice here, here and here. While the natural state no longer boasts a single birth center, you do have a couple of options when choosing a midwife for your care in Central Arkansas: UAMS and homebirth. I recently sat down with midwife Paula Ross to chat about how a midwife attended pregnancy and birth might look here in our area.

On her website, Paula says "I received my RN license in January 1997, began working in Women & Children in 2004, and I’ve been caring for new and growing families ever since. I began occasionally assisting midwives at home births in 2008, became a doula in 2013 and an  International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in 2015. I finally began a midwifery apprenticeship with Deb Phillips, CPM, LLM in 2016 and certified in 2020.

On the subject of preparing for a homebirth in Central Arkansas (and beyond) Paula says there are some important steps to take and things to remember.

Midwife checks baby's heartbeat during a prenatal checkup at home on mom's bed

Firstly, she says you must pick your midwife. "Licensed midwives follow health department protocols, which include 2 risk assessments, so also decide who you want to see for those risk assessments. Depending where you live in Arkansas, there may be an obstetrician or CNM you can see, but many homebirth clients go to the local health unit." And once you've chosen there is still some research to do: "if your midwife is a CPM with a MBC, there are procedures and tests you can decline after discussing it with your midwife and signing an informed refusal." Get studying!

Next up: "Eat well. Diet is so so so important for a healthy pregnancy and delivery! We recommend getting at least 80g of protein, lots of vegetables, berries, some fruit, healthy fats (like avocados and nuts), and a few grains. We recommend avoiding sugar (including overdoing it on starches that turn to sugar) and fast food, and will discuss healthier alternatives for less healthy cravings."

Equally important:

"Daily sunshine and fresh air. [And] exercise: discuss with your midwife which ones are appropriate. We generally encourage continuing whatever exercise you have been doing, adding modifications as needed. If you haven’t been exercising already, walking, swimming, and pregnancy yoga are good choices. I recommend adding Spinning Babies daily essentials. We’ll also discuss relaxation and meditation exercises. We have herbal teas/supplements we recommend to our clients." Yes, please.

And this next one I certainly can get behind: "Get plenty of sleep, including working in a daily nap! Deb has actually written a “prescription” for a busy mom who didn’t think she could work in a nap. “Show this to your husband and tell him midwife’s orders.” I think I'm in love!

"Childbirth education classes." There are quite a few options in Central Arkansas including classes with Deb and Paula themselves. "Pick a chiropractor and get regular adjustments." Also a lot of really good local options - reach out if you need recommendations!

"Read books." Deb and Paula have lending libraries and of course there is always the public library system if you aren't interested in adding to your own book collection.

Homebirth Midwife runs over details with birth team

"Consider who you else you want to be at your birth. A doula? Photographer? Your mother? Invite your birth support people to childbirth class or a prenatal visit, especially if they have any concerns about birthing at home. Make sure everyone you invite into your birth space is completely supportive of your plans. That’s a big one."

And as for the practical hands on prep:

"Some midwives have a home birth kit that can be ordered from a birth supply company. Deb has a list of birth supplies that clients gather themselves. Since licensed midwives can attend a home delivery after 37 weeks, we recommend gathering birth supplies after your 36-week risk assessment."

And last but not least:

"Enjoy your pregnancy."

That one I can wholeheartedly get behind <3 Thank you so much, Paula, for sitting down and walking me through your process! I look forward to seeing/working with you again soon.


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