As a childbirth assistant, she most often works alongside a midwife, and is a professional support person experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support before, during, and just after childbirth. She also serves as a liaison between the mother and her health care providers, and is an advocate, educator and guide.
Thompson received training in both Childbirth Education and Labor/Birth Assisting, with certification through the Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators (ALACE). She has assisted care providers and families since 1990.
One of her goals is to put women back in control of their own childbirth experience. Women who have continuous support from women experienced in birth, report more positive birth experiences. Thompson points out that no two births are the same, so she helps each woman find the best way for her situation.
In five nations with the world's lowest infant mortality and lowest rates of technological intervention, midwives attend 70 percent of all births without a physician present.
This does not mean she is against interventions such as induced labor, cesarean, epidurals, episiotomys, and others. She said these are very important in the care of a woman, when needed; but these options have become overused and are sometimes used when they are not in the best interest of the mother and child.
According to the World Health Organization, no geographic region should have rates of induced labor over 10 percent. Routine administration of analgesic or anesthetic drugs should be avoided in normal delivery, and no region should have more than 10-15 percent cesarean births. Even after a cesarean birth, says WHO, vaginal births are often possible and should be encouraged. WHO also stated there is no justification for the systematic use of episiotomy, pubic shaving, or predelivery enema.
Thompson talked about other more natural options that have proven just as effective. She teaches women different ways of dealing with pain. "When women know what to expect," she said, "they can be better prepared." She encourages women to walk and move around during labor, and herbal teas can often help reduce pain.
Medications should not be used unless there is a danger, because with any medication there is always some effect to the child. Sometimes a woman is given a medication during birth, then given another for the baby to counter the first one. "Interventions lead to interventions," Thompson said.
A woman can have an easier delivery when in a squatting position or on hands and knees. Thompson, who has two boys, referred to the birth of her first son. She is small framed, but with the right methods, her body was able to stretch without the aid of an episiotomy, and she gave birth to a 10 lb. boy.
Another effective and positive option is water birth. This is an especially gentle option for both baby and mother. Warm water can actually act as a natural epidural, making the pain less intense for mom, and since the baby has never breathed air, it creates less shock when the baby gradually progresses from breathing through the umbilical cord to breathing air.
In all births, once the child is born it is placed on the mother's chest and they are both wrapped up. This is referred to as "Kangaroo Care." There is 1-2 hours immediately after birth that the child is the most alert. Eye drops and shots can be postponed until after the mother and child have had this bonding time.
Lights and noises are always kept low during a birth. This is soothing for not only mom, but also for baby. For nine months the child has had complete darkness and silence. It can be a frightening experience when it comes into the world for the first time and its first images are bright lights and loud noises.
Thompson said that she and a midwife only deliver healthy births. If there is ever a question of the mother's health or the safety of the child, the birth will take palce in the hospital.
Even if delivery must take place in the hospital, Laura Thompson is an indispensible source of care, during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. She recalled staying with a woman while in labor continuously for two days. "I almost missed my son's birthday party!" she laughed.
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