Birthing Is All In Family

Midwifery: The Warmer, More Informal Atmosphere Of Annapolis Center Offers A Laboring Mom-to-be Many Of The Comforts Of Home Including Relatives.

April 25, 1997|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

Jennifer Ingbretson, on her back in a queen-sized bed, gave a final push at 7: 50 Tuesday night and brought into the world 7-pound, 14-ounce Richard Lee Milton Jr. -- the first baby born in one of Anne Arundel County's two birthing centers.

"Oh, man, oh!" Ingbretson, 25, of Edgewater exclaimed when her first baby was born, on his due date -- like only 7 percent of newborns. "Hi, sweetie!" she said.

Baby Richard was born after 15 hours of labor spent mainly in a Jacuzzi and in a warmly decorated room with a rocking chair, hardwood floors and floral wallpaper. With Ingbretson were her mother, her fiance, two certified nurse midwives and a birthing assistant -- all giving support.

Anne Arundel County recently joined the natural childbirth trend with two birth centers -- one in Arnold and the other the Bay Area Midwifery Center that Richard initiated, next to the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis. Around Maryland, babies are born with the aid of midwives at birthing centers such as the Baltimore Birth Center in Baltimore and others in Bethesda, Greenbelt and Calvert and Frederick counties.

The Bay Area Midwifery Center's first birth came after a long, tense and emotional day for his family.

It was about 5 a.m. when Ingbretson, a bartender, woke up and told her fiance, metalworker Richard Lee Milton Sr., 32, that she was in labor. They were in the birthing center by 8: 30 a.m.

She walked around until late morning, when she got in the whirlpool bathtub. At 3 p.m., midwife Susan Shannon listened to the baby's heartbeat through an underwater Doppler radar device. "Listen to how happy your baby is in there," she said.

"I'm glad somebody is," said Ingbretson, wearing an orange-patterned bikini and a look of intense fatigue.

Meanwhile, her mother, Faith Munnie, 47, her sister, Jessica Johnson, 10, her fiance and other family members and friends popped in and out, sometimes wringing their hands. They spent most of the waiting in a family room across the hall, watching videocassettes of "The Princess Bride" and "Twister" and snacking on potato chips.

"My birth experience was nothing like this," said Munnie, who has six children besides Ingbretson; she gave birth to one of them alone on a hospital gurney. The midwife "is constantly touching, coaching and rubbing."

The nurturing continued as the laboring mother moved from the tub to the bed, where she knelt face-down to help the baby rotate and move down in the pelvis, all the while being encouraged and massaged by the midwives.

Even at the sharpest pains, she remained composed. She said, "Yes, please," when offered a sip of water or juice and never yelled. Only a few times she complained: "I don't know if I can take any more," she said once in the late afternoon, saying the relentless pain prevented her from thinking clearly.

She also said she was nauseated and made three mild requests for drugs.

"It wasn't `I absolutely have to have it,' it was just `This would be nice,' but she quickly responded to encouragement and relaxation," said Judith Parsley, the director of midwifery.

At about 7: 20 p.m., Parsley knew "this is going to be the active time now."

Twenty minutes later, suddenly, everyone except the laboring mother was screaming. "We can see the head," said Sheila Swierczewski, a birthing assistant.

As Ingbretson's face contorted, a dark little head appeared, then retreated. Within moments, his dimpled face, shoulders, arms, torso and legs wiggled out.

"He's all gray and wrinkly," said Milton, a first-time father, who cut the umbilical cord but seemed so overwhelmed he didn't have much else to say.

Shannon weighed and measured the baby -- 19 1/2 inches long.

Then an upbeat and alert Ingbretson received tearful hugs from her family, wondered if her eye make-up was mussed and, holding her newborn, summed it all up: "That was not easy."

She ate the fruit and yogurt her mother had brought and nursed the baby. The new parents and their baby left for home by midnight.

Yesterday, Ingbretson said the baby was deemed healthy by a pediatrician, and alert with his eyes open and looking around.

Parsley said Ingbretson's experience was typical of mothers who deliver without surgery or drugs -- but with lots of support.

She praised Ingbretson for doing such a good job. "A lot of times for first-time moms," she said, "you never know how it's going to go. She just worked so well with her body and the people who were there."

Pub Date: 4/24/97

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