Special Delivery

Midwives have helped 150 area babies into the world

Heather Ann White/Caller-Times
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
ABC Office (Formall 'Gentle Beginnings')

It’s like a slumber party – joking and laughing with loved ones and the occasional banter about men.

This is how Kasey Garcia describes each of her experiences giving birth at her Corpus Christi home with the help of Beth Overton, founder and owner of Gentle Beginnings Midwifery [Note from CCBC: This was Beth Overton’s first business name], which has served the Coastal Bend since 1998.

“It’s just so amazing,” Garcia said. “I wasn’t ever happy having babies at the hospital. At home it’s just better being in your own space. It’s about being comfortable.”

Making mothers comfortable during natural childbirth is Overton’s goal. The 51-year-old said she has always been fascinated by childbirth. She became a licensed and certified professional midwife to start the business after raising her three children. She and her youngest daughter Jessica Gregory, also a certified professional midwife, work together and have delivered more than 150 babies in nearly 10 years.

The midwives and an apprentice travel as many as 150 miles for home births, Overton said, but during their pregnancies, patients are treated in an office behind Overton’s home.

“People come to me to control their own births,” Overton said. “They don’t want to be delivered by strangers. Plus, they also want drug-free births.”

Overton stresses to her patients that Gentle Beginnings (CCBC) is not anti-hospital but are trained not to interfere with the normal birth process unless medically necessary, she said. The midwife’s job is to provide comfort to the mothers.

Using a midwife is not much different than an obstetrician/gynecologist. They offer prenatal care, seeing patients every four weeks up until the 28th week, every two weeks until the 36th week and weekly until the baby is born. They also offer postpartum care, she said, for the mother and child for as many as six weeks, which is different from most obstetricians. The midwives do not perform circumcisions or vaccinations.

Instead of using drugs, Overton said, the midwives have pain management tools to help mothers cope with the birthing process such as massaging and water therapy. Nearly all clients at some point during labor get in the shower or bath to relieve the pain, she said. Overton and Gregory also bring along a birthing ball, which helps the women loosen up joints and the baby move down the uterus.

Throughout the entire labor, Overton said, the women are doing simple, natural things that are helping and preparing for the baby.

The greatest difference between home and hospital births is freedom, Gregory said. The women aren’t confined to a hospital bed.

“There are no IVs, we use a portable fetal monitor so we just follow mom around,” she said. “A woman in labor rarely wants to lay or sit down. They want to move, sometimes they want to get in the shower or bath. It’s natural pain management which isn’t really allowed for in hospitals.”

One of the main reasons mothers choose midwifery is bonding time with the baby, Gregory said. Gregory speaks from personal experience – the mother of four has birthed all her children at home, all delivered by her mother.

“This is the greatest thing about having your baby at home,” she said. “Your baby’s not taken from you after all the hard work. After all, you brought the baby into the world All our monitoring is done right in front of mom while she’s holding the baby with little interference. This is the greatest bonding time.”

Garcia, mother of seven – soon to be eight – has had four children in the hospital and three at home and said she will never opt for another hospital birth unless it’s an emergency.

“Having a baby at home is like eating potato chips,” she said, laughing and holding her protruding belly. “You can’t just have one.”

Garcia said that although it’s still as painful, she feels more at home, more comfortable and more confident in the midwives’ abilities to deliver.

“I’m not scared of the pain for the complications,” she said. “It’s great to have friends and not strangers there holding your hand and telling you that you can do it. We laugh, joke and cry – you wouldn’t even know that I was giving birth. That’s just how my births are.”

Contact Heather Ann White at 886-3794 or [email protected]