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."
Breakfast favorites served on a bubbly crust pair with a crisp salad
State Rep. Lenar Whitney — one of a handful of Republican candidates vying for Louisiana’s 6th Congressional district — has been described by Cook Political Report analyst David Wasserman as one of the most “frightening or fact-averse candidate[s]” he’s ever met following her reaction to an interview last week.
West coast casual
Mid-August hearing dates have been set for dueling lawsuits over Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards in public schools.
An investigation into the last-minute passage of a pension hike for the state police superintendent continues, despite Col. Mike Edmonson's decision not to accept the increase.
Four bedroom traditional Youngsville home or three bedroom traditional Broussard home
On Tuesday, a three judge panel (voting two to one) of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as unconstitutional Mississippi’s controversial law requiring that physicians who perform abortions maintain admitting privileges in a nearby hospital.
Safety Jairus Byrd practiced with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday for the first time since his signing in March.
Sentencing has been delayed for a businessman who provided key testimony in the corruption case that resulted in the conviction of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
The spectre of priest sex abuse has returned to haunt the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette following the recent release of an investigative report by Minnesota Public Radio, revealing new allegations of another child predator hiding behind the clerical collar.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
A ballpark snack topped with BBQ meat can be found cruising town on a food truck
"Although the administration is moving forward with climate change regulations at home, we don't consider how policy decisions in the United States impact greenhouse gas emissions in other parts of the world," says Roger Martella, the former general counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush.
Louisiana agriculture officials say prices for long-grain rice are projected to drop this year.
First-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending July 19 decreased from the previous week's total.
A judge is getting ready to set a new trial date for a former BP executive charged with obstructing a congressional investigation into the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The sponsor of a Louisiana law that requires doctors that perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges doesn't believe the provision is in jeopardy after a federal appeals court struck down a similar Mississippi law.
Louisiana's state school board has jumped into a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal that accuses the governor of illegally meddling in education policy through his efforts to block Common Core education standards.
Here's how one nationally recognized conservative political pundit reacted upon hearing the news Monday that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was leaning toward an endorsement of Louisiana’s lone Democrat senator.
If President Barack Obama’s poll numbers, and those for his health care law, haven’t yet bottomed out in the Bayou State, then Democrats surely don’t want to know what the statistical floor actually looks like.
Midsouth Bank has released its second quarter earnings report, showing a year-over-year increase for shareholders.
The comeback of the Wayfarer
Two bedroom New Iberia ranch style house or two bedroom Lafayette condo
The deadline to purchase tickets for the 2014 ABiz Top 50 Business Luncheon featuring top-selling author, political activist and Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig is only two weeks away.
With the qualifying deadline for Lafayette Parish School Board elections quickly approaching, a series of candidate forums have been announced by the Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The investigation and potential prosecution of the man charged in the recent hit-and-run death of a Youngsville cyclist won’t happen overnight, according to local law enforcement officials.
Louisiana's state school board is holding a special meeting to consider whether to sue Gov. Bobby Jindal in an ongoing dispute over the Common Core education standards.
A bipartisan congressional deal to help improve veterans' health care access includes approval for new veterans clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles.
Cajun favorites to comfort on Pinhook Road