Vicki Taylor is a Florida-licensed midwife and certified professional midwife. She has 38 years of experience helping women deliver their babies at home and in a birth center, as well as water births. You can learn more about Taylor and her services at mamascradle.com.
IN: What is a midwife?
TAYLOR: A midwife is trained to serve women who expect to have a normal course of prenatal care, birth and postpartum, as well as monitor a healthy newborn. Our services are provided mainly in out-of-hospital settings—at home or a birth center. We believe that pregnancy and birth are normal and natural processes, and can almost always be completed at home or in a home-like environment. Although we are trained to use emergency medications and equipment, we rarely have occasion to use them. If a client develops any condition that is outside of our expertise, we transfer care to a higher-level provider at the hospital.
IN: What type of services do you provide?
TAYLOR: I provide prenatal, birth, postpartum and newborn care for those women who are low medical risk. I like to refer to midwifery care as “High Touch, Low Tech,” in that I try very hard to develop a level of trust and caring with my clients during prenatal care so they are able to fulfill their birth plan as closely as possible.
IN: Would you recommend that first-time mothers choose a midwife?
TAYLOR: Absolutely. The empowerment that a new mother gains from birthing her baby on her own terms is immeasurable. During her pregnancy, a first-time mother will have the opportunity to learn about her body, the pregnancy process, nutrition (her own and breastfeeding her newborn) and parenting.
IN: Where can women research to decide what type of birth they want?
TAYLOR: All prospective mothers should thoroughly research their options for prenatal care and birth, including all providers and available locations. On my website there is a discussion of the types of midwife providers serving our area. I offer a free consultation to clients who are considering a home birth. Other providers also offer consultations where you can meet them face-to-face and discuss your preferences for prenatal care and birth.
IN: You were a childbirth education teacher before you had kids. Did the experience scare you when it was your turn to go into labor?
TAYLOR: At that time, I was living on a farm, and birth was a very common occurrence. Still, I was unprepared for the amount of work required in birth. No, I was not scared, but educated and yet, apprehensive. It is called “labor” for a reason.
IN: Since you began midwifing in the mid-1970s what have you learned about the birthing process?
TAYLOR: The process has not changed at all, although the technology certainly has. As a midwife, I have attended over 1500 births at homes, hospitals and in birth centers. I have learned that there are endless variations to how birth proceeds. The process can vary from mother to mother, and even child to child. Each labor dance is unique to the needs of that baby and that mother. If you attempt to control this process, you can endanger the baby. The process of labor demands respect to ensure that the mother and newborn are healthy and happy.
IN: What has changed since then?
TAYLOR: Technology has become much more sophisticated and available during pregnancy, labor and birth, although the actual process remains the same. We have many more tools to image a fetus and sophisticated tests to insure the fetal well-being. There are more midwives and out-of-hospital birth options available than when I began practice. Only 1 percent of all babies born in the US in the 1970s were born at home. Last year, in Florida, almost 4 percent of the babies were born either at home or in a birth center.
IN: In your opinion, what is the benefit of staying fit and being active while pregnant?
TAYLOR: A body that is fit, active and well-nourished has the best chance of growing and birthing a healthy baby. Daily exercise is a vital part of the health of all mothers—walking and swimming are excellent. Those mothers who monitor their daily calorie intake and exercise on a regular basis will be the best prepared for labor and birth and the demands of breastfeeding.
IN: What are the benefits of a home or water birth?
TAYLOR: All mothers in labor benefit from being relaxed and the place where most mothers relax the best is in their own home, surrounded by friends and family. A relaxing bath in warm water allows the uterus to function to its maximum capacity—insuring an efficient labor. The newborns also seem much more relaxed and do not have to deal with the physical demands of both labor and medications, which can depress the respiratory system. So, in general, labors are shorter and the newborns are more alert and active.
IN: What is the number one piece of advice you tell your expecting mothers?
TAYLOR: The process of producing a new life will challenge you in ways you cannot begin to imagine. God is in charge of this process of birthing a new life and is in control. We are all interested and educated observers, but we cannot control everything. Surrender to this new experience, and you will reap great rewards.