Jessi Mayes, 23, joked she has wanted to be a mother for 20 years.
After 3 1/2 years of marriage, she and her husband, Justin, decided the time was right to add a new member to their family.
Mrs. Mayes has put a lot of thought into her preferences for the birth of her child.
“I really believe in natural birth,” she said. “I know that God designed our bodies to birth naturally, and most of the time, medical intervention isn’t necessary. It’s good that it’s there, but in my opinion, it shouldn’t be the norm.”
Mrs. Mayes was one East Texan celebrating Labor Day with other maternal health advocates in Bergfeld Park as part of Maternity Fair and Rally to Improve Birth. The rallies, held in 115 cities across the country, aimed to inform women about the need to have a positive birth experience.
Mrs. Mayes and other perused through an array of booths displaying information on midwifes, birthing centers, acupuncture and wellness, as wells as homeopathic soaps and oils. She already picked out her midwife, birth photographer and doula, a certified but nonmedical professional who helps provide emotional support for the family before, during and after birth.
Jennifer Mallios, coordinator of the rally and facilitator of Positive Birth Tyler, said the purpose behind the rally was to educate women on their choices going into labor and providing evidence-based care.
“Evidence-based care practices (are) proven by science to be best for moms and babies, (as well as) humanity and childbirth,” she said.
Katherine Stanglin, a certified doula and organizer of the event, said the goal is to inform women of their choices and risks. This includes decisions about tests, procedures, birthing positions, induced labor or a cesarean section.
“Women and families need to be educated first so they can go into discussions with their physician on how they feel about certain things, how the provider feels about certain things,” Ms. Stanglin said.
Organizers said they believe in fewer preventable C-sections, which have been on the rise since the 1990s.
At the center of the national push to have a more positive birth is the overwhelmingly high rates of cesareans and the few vaginal births after a previous C-section, or VBAC. About one-third of all births in the United States are done via a C-section. In Texas, that number is a little higher, at 35.1 percent. Local hospitals’ C-section rates are lower than the state and national figures.
Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler’s total C-section rate is estimated at 26.5 percent, according to figures compiled by the Texas Hospital Association. East Texas Medical Center in Tyler’s rate is 31.3 percent. Some of ETMC’s rural hospitals have higher rates, such as ETMC Jacksonville, at 38.4 percent. In Athens, Crockett and Carthage, hospitals have even higher rates, at 39.8, 40.4 and 46.7 percent, respectively.
The World Health Organization has recommended that C-section rates stay within 10 to 15 percent.
Amanda and David Erickson, of Maydelle, said they opted to use a midwife and doula for the birth of their first baby, Ezra.
The plan changed when Ezra turned in the womb. With their baby breach, the family was taken to Mother Frances Hospital, where he was born via C-section.
“That was a wonderful experience, too,” Mrs. Erickson said. Our doula “came with us, and I wish I could tie her up with a bow and send her to all of my pregnant friends. She made certain that every one of our birth preferences stayed intact as they could under the circumstances.”
Staff writer Coshandra Dillard contributed to this report.