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Margo Kennedy // A BETTER BIRTH EXPERIENCE // LOS ANGELES BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER

For those of you stumbling on this series for the first time, you can look back to my first post here to get a little more information about the series itself!

I have really enjoyed getting to know local midwife, Margo Kennedy! She has such an extensive knowledge about midwifery and is so easy to talk to – which I think are two very important qualities to have in a midwife!  🙂

Margo has also recently opened a birth center here in South Pasadena (something I’m very excited about)! This is such a wonderful step for the birthing community in the Pasadena area. I’m so glad that expecting moms will now be able to have another option that is nearby!

Here’s a bit from my time with Margo –

Los Angeles Birth Photographer

So, tell me how you became a midwife? And about how long have you been a midwife?

Well, I started off as a nurse because I liked kids. When I was growing up I was like the Pied Piper and the kids in the neighborhood would always hangout with me. So, I thought I could be a nurse and that way I could work with kids. I started working in pediatrics and I began working at a children’s hospital where I worked with kids ages newborn up to 18 months.

During this time you mentioned that as moms visited their children you began noticing a correlation between their birth experience and their relationship with their children

There just seemed to be such a strong correlation between their relationship [mother and child] and their birth experience. The moms would always talk to me about their births, and it wasn’t something I was prompting them to talk about  (I hated OB when I was in nursing school). It seemed that the ones that had a more positive birth experience seemed to have a closer relationship with their kids. And as it was just observational…I thought “well if you really want to help kids you should go back to that moment and help them have the birth that’s good for them – then that would help the child longterm.” So, I switched over to labor & delivery and as I worked there I thought “well, really, it happens much sooner”…so I went to midwifery school!

I’ve been a midwife now for 20 years. I was a nurse for a long time and then became a midwife, so I’ve worked in a hospital predominately and have had a home birth practice for 12 years. I also worked in a birth center for a year.

Los Angeles Birth Photographer

Since you were a nurse first, how does that effect your title as a midwife? You are able to be a midwife for hospital births, right?

Yes, because I’m a nurse midwife (CNM – certified nurse midwife). The ‘certified’ comes from a national credential, and once you pass the national test then you’re certified. Otherwise, there is the state license which is nurse midwife, not certified nurse midwife. Nursing I think brings a broader base as far as education goes, that they [midwifery programs] don’t cover in their program as much…which I’m always grateful for. I like being a nurse midwife, I would encourage anybody that wanted to do midwifery to have more options and to have a stronger foundation to do midwifery.

As a CNM, with patients that have been transferred to the hospital have you been able to continue on as their midwife at the hospital? 

The only time I’ve ever worked at hospitals is through practices. As a nurse midwife doing a home practice, once they go to the hospital I just go as their doula, basically. The physician that has privileges at that hospital delivers the baby. You have to have privileges at the hospital in order to deliver there. There isn’t anyone within this area [Pasadena] that has delivery privileges at a hospital. There is a nurse midwife that delivers at Cedars Sinai or UCLA…one of those two. That and Good Samaritan hospital in Downtown LA. There are only two private practices in all of LA.

[sadly, not many options]

You mentioned earlier that with your practice, your c-section rate is only 5%!  It’s  great hearing such a low percentage when most of the hospitals in LA are at a c-section rate of high 30s-40%. It seems that quite a lot of hospitals are using c-sections as more of a go-to when labors are taking longer that expected, instead of emergency based.

It’s that way with the whole VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) thing as well, a lot of hospitals are saying no you can’t do a VBAC here. It’s really limiting people’s choices overall. And unfortunately what happens is then people lose the skill and then aren’t able to do, say, a breech birth or a twin vaginal birth. And all the doctors who are delivering these types births are older doctors…so what happens when they retire?

[my thoughts exactly]

Los Angeles Birth Photographer

So now, you’re finishing opening up a birthing center in South Pasadena – are you already accepting clients? What is the setup like at the birth center?

Yes, we are! And there are 3 birth rooms, 3 exam rooms, a kitchen, a lobby that we can use for classes and as a family room, and a couple of offices.

I’m sure you’re very excited to finally have the birthing center, you had mentioned that you wanted to open one for 4 years – 

4 years…it’s like a really long labor!  🙂

Los Angeles Birth Photographer

What are some suggestions you can make for moms to have a better birth experience? Here are a couple of scenarios for you…

1) First time mom who is having a hospital birth and is interested in her options within the hospital. She’s considering having an all natural birth but most of her family and friends have gone the medicated route and are not being too supportive of her idea. 

She should probably do some reading about why she wants to do it without medication so that she can be convinced of that, if that’s what she wants. It’s very difficult in the situation of labor to be in an environment that part of their way of checking on you is asking about your pain every time they come in the room, and offering you something for the pain. Every woman I take care of at home (delivering without pain medication) eventually says ‘I can’t stand this I’ve got to go to the hospital for pain medicine’. And I know 90% of them, if given the opportunity in that moment, would take it. So you really have to have a strong resolve not to want it and then you have to take action about the tools available to help with the discomfort of pain without medication. The mom in this example needs to ask questions – will they let me walk around during labor? Will they let me get in the shower?, etc.

It’s about planning with their provider and the institution they’re going to deliver at to see what they allow. If they make that mom stay in the bed with the monitor on the whole time, stick an iv in her arm so that she then can’t move, that’s going to decrease her result.

2) A mom who is having her second child and looking to have a better birthing experience than she did with her first (since first time around she kind of just did as she was told by her doctor/hospital). She is very interested in her options and is considering possibly delivering outside of the hospital whether that be at a birth center or a having a home birth. 

For this mom, again I would stress the importance of picking the right provider that provides the care she is looking for. Instead of trying to make someone fit into what you’re looking for, find somebody who supports what you want. Then you have a better chance of them supporting you through the birth.

Del Mar Birth CenterPINIMAGEA big thank you to Margo for taking the time to be apart of this series! I am very excited for the Del Mar Birth Center to officially be open! I can’t wait to see the wonderful effects it is going to have on the birthing community!

If you are interested in finding out more information about the birth center you can visit their website at delmarbirthcenter.com

Or give them a call!  (626) 577-BABY (2229)

hugs,

Lauren


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