Lastrapes, along with Kathy Acree, is part of the state's first freestanding birth center in Lafayette on St. John Street. Gentle Choices, an alternative to a hospital birth, aims to direct women toward a natural birth, with no drugs or epidural.
"Women have developed a lot of fear about childbirth, and they need to be given their confidence back," says Lastrapes. "I think that's what appeals to them so much is that they have choices of how they're going to labor and of course with whom and who's present at their birth," she says. "We are with them from the beginning of their prenatal time to their postpartum time. We don't have a lot of people that come into a hospital, from the housekeeping people to the dietary people. It's us. We're all that."
The first baby, Isabelle Forestier, was born June 29 to parents Tricia and Brian before the center was even officially open. Six more babies are on the books, arriving August-November, and the center has received inquiries from as far as Shreveport. This was Tricia's third child, and she says she was determined to have a natural, water birth. "Personal attention makes me feel at ease and gives me the confidence that I can do a natural childbirth," she says. "A birth is your experience; it's not the hospital's experience."
Lastrapes and Acree are both licensed midwife practitioners by the state Board of Medical Examiners and have been practicing as midwives in home births for more than 20 years. Lastrapes is also a registered nurse and trained under Acree to become a midwife. The two women were approached by farmer and former state senator E. Edward Barham, who had been researching midwives and birth centers all over the south and wanted to open one in Lafayette. Barham owns the Gentle Choices facility, and the two midwives and office administrator Donna Romero are contract employees.
Barham, who now lives in Oak Ridge, says the practice of midwifery has never died out in south Louisiana. According to the Board of Medical Examiners, there are 15 midwives licensed to practice in the state, 10 of those with Louisiana addresses. "It seemed to us it was something that ought to be done," says Barham. "Lafayette was the place where home birth never went away. All the pieces were in place there."
Located in an old home at 1424 St. John St. across from Our Lady of Lourdes, Gentle Choices looks more like someone's house than a medical facility. The front porch is lined with hanging ferns, and the waiting area is decorated like a living room, with a deep sofa and fireplace. Two birth suites contain antique beds and flowered curtains. "We wanted it quaint and personal," says Lastrapes.
While each room contains a queen-size bed, Lastrapes says most women don't give birth in the bed. The first suite includes a double soaking tub for water births and a birthing ball in the corner. "Every other woman has a water birth in my home practice," she says. "Most women hate the bed," she continues, "and they hate to deliver in the bed. The way you would probably see a woman delivering in here is she would get down in a squat, and she would give birth in this position. And we'd be right down there on the floor with her." (Lastrapes' husband is building her a birthing stool to make the squatting process more comfortable.)
Though the midwives would not discuss costs ' most insurance companies cover the cost of services provided by licensed midwives and birth centers and the center accepts most hospital plans ' they say a birth at Gentle Choices is less than one in a traditional hospital setting.
Women interested in having their baby at the center must first go through an extensive interview process to rule out high-risk. "The birth center is for healthy, low-risk women who choose a birth that is unmedicated," explains Lastrapes. But the center does have a plan for emergencies and hospital transport. Maternal fetal medicine specialist Whitney Gonsoulin serves as backup physician, and the center is stocked with supplies, like sutures, IVs, resuscitation equipment and medication for bleeding.
The center also offers a range of prenatal and postpartum care. The midwives see their patients throughout their pregnancy, just as an OB GYN would, and conduct follow-up appointments after the baby is born. "Usually when you're on call for a birth, you usually give it a whole month, because women can go two weeks before their due date to two weeks after," says Lastrapes. "We're always ready for them. We have an answering service that picks up, and they know who's on call."
Gentle Choices is considering adding other services, like Pap Smears and birth control. "There's some other avenues of women's care that we may look into in the future, maybe a well-woman GYN care by a woman's health nurse practitioner and a certified nurse midwife, to allow women if they want annual exams," says Lastrapes. "I think that women would be very pleased to be able to continue on where they started."
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
"I have never seen anyone who worked harder for our people than Sen. Mary Landrieu, so I would like to share a synopsis of a few of the many things she has done to help Louisiana."
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
Corporations spending in state elections; Kenny G and Hong Kong; states resist gay marriage and more national and international news for Thursday, October 23, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
Three bedroom Acadian or a two bedroom town home
Ready to geaux in purple and gold
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
The recently established Downtown Lafayette Restaurant & Bar Association will host a special viewing of the upcoming New Orleans Saints taking on the Carolina Panthers in the open air of Parc Sans Souci on Thursday, Oct. 30.
Belief in a national outbreak of the Ebola zombie virus is becoming more of a threat every day, and The Hayride — Louisiana’s one true bastion for unrelentingly conservative political commentaries — thought it wise to share a certain special someone's “important message” with readers Tuesday on what to do when, not if, it comes.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
JPMorgan Chase is giving $1 million to Louisiana's community and technical colleges, to help with workforce training efforts to match students to available jobs.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
Law firm unveils newly renovated 200-year-old building.
UL grad named web developer at BBR Creative
Lafayette-based emergency department staffing and management company raises $120 million in senior credit facilities through GE Capital, Healthcare Financial Services.
High-rise apartment building, parking garage, hotel and retail part of new development.
A common thread runs through many of those we oppose: Enshrining in the Constitution protections on programs and their funding sources has had a disastrous effect on Louisiana’s most important economic development engine.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
The number of Louisianans with jobs continued to set records in September, but the state's unemployment rate kept rising.