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."
Casual cool for Thanksgiving
Shop Lafayette goes strong
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
A divided 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a Lafayette district judge’s ruling absolving the co-owner of a New Iberia accounting firm of liability in an embezzlement case.
Our View: It’s reasonable, temporary and invests in Lafayette’s future.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
Three bedroom in Port Barre or two bedroom in Opelousas
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
“I am only getting a little nervous about two projects — the proposed Sasol GTL facility [not the new ethylene plant] and the proposed G2X facility — both in Lake Charles. They need a hefty difference between oil and natural gas prices to make sense.”
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Lower oil prices also might slow the growth of oil production in parts of the U.S., Canada and elsewhere because it will no longer be so profitable.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
A Lafayette woman faces up to 20 years in prison for running up more than $1 million in unauthorized charges to her company credit card.
Signs that our state’s banking industry is undergoing a downsizing in 2014 were further confirmed today with the FDIC’s latest figures showing a third straight quarter in which Louisiana lost more banks and earned less money.
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State police say a 47-year-old Lafayette man, who collected more than $83,000 in disability benefits, is accused of operating two businesses out of his home at a time when he claimed he had no income.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
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