Welcome to the “Ask Her Anything” Series at The LightHouse Birth Collective!
(Spoiler Alert: It’s the most fantastic Interview Series you’ll ever read. I’m just telling you now.)
“Ask Her Anything” is the fresh, brutally honest cousin of ‘The Boring Old Interview.” In this unprecedented opportunity, The LightHouse is merging nearly three whole centuries of our Members’ combined birth experience with the chance for prospective clients to be brave and ask the questions that are really on their minds.
One by one, our Midwives, Doulas, and Birth Photographer are answering all kinds of questions that were submitted by our followers – real reader questions that deal with pregnancy, partners, childbirth, and beyond. The questions are intimate, they’re vulnerable, and they’re raw – much like the childbearing year itself – but if you know “birth folks,” you’ll know that they love a good challenge, and our Members didn’t hesitate to tackle even the toughest questions.
I’ll come right out and say it – Marilee Pinkleton of HeartSong Midwifery is exactly the type of woman most of us think about when we imagine the home birth midwife of our dreams. She’s a Nationally Certified Professional Midwife, holding a state license in both Delaware and Virginia, but more importantly, she’s calm. She’s gentle. Marilee is soft-spoken, humble, and intimately knowledgable about pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. For two decades she’s been a midwife and an educator, and she’s as client-focused as they come – in fact, she does all of her client care in their homes – prenatal visits and everything*!
(*How awesome is that?!)
The only Home Birth Midwife living in Sussex County, DE, she didn’t hesitate to get to the bottom of these questions – so let’s not hesitate to read them.
- Are there any male midwives? Do you think other midwives would be receptive to that, or would it be a big “no way!”? –PL
There are men who are midwives, although few in number. I feel anyone who is called to serve women and their families wholistically is an asset to our community.
2. How do you feel about breeches at home? Do you have any experience with breeches, or were they a part of your training? I had two breech babies who were both scheduled cesareans, but I’ll always feel that I could have just had them “regularly.” – TG
I was trained to attend breech birth and have done so in my practice. There are different risks to consider when choosing to vaginally birth a baby in the breech position versus a baby in the cephalic (head down) position. In my practice we share information about chiropractic care, pelvic rocks and yoga as ways to help babies move to a head-down presentation prior to labor; however, sometimes they do not. In Delaware, midwives who serve families at home are not allowed to attend breech birth. The challenge then becomes to find a hospital care provider who has the training and skill to attend a mother whose baby is in the breech position.
3. Has your midwifery career had a negative impact on your own family at home? What are some of the ways that your calling in midwifery has affected them? –JN
Serving women and their babies requires one to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This means you miss birthdays, holidays and family activities. What I try to do is to be as present as I can be when I am with my family and plan fun outings when I’m off-call. Meeting the needs of our families and the needs of the families we serve is the balance we all strive to achieve.
4. What was the most shocking moment you’ve ever experienced at a birth? – AB
I don’t know that I’ve experienced a “shocking” moment, but I do experience moments of pure joy. Sometimes it’s after a momma has worked so very hard and is finally holding her baby in her arms and crying, “I did it!”; or when a momma and daddy have worked together from the very beginning of the labor to the end of the birth and his support has been so loving and caring it brings us to tears; and sometimes it’s when circumstances change and a momma needs to shift the plans for her birth and does so without question. I’ve been blessed to hold the space for these women and witness their strength and perseverance.
5. My older sister had an all-the-way tear when she had her baby and called it a “Vaganus”. Does that really happen? Have you ever seen that? Can a home birth midwife fix that? – PG
An “all-the-way” tear is called a 4th degree laceration and is best repaired by a physician, as it is rarely seen by a midwife. This most frequently happens when a woman has been given an episiotomy. In my 20 years of practice I have not had a momma have a 4th degree laceration. To minimize any laceration we encourage mommas to do perineal massage in the last weeks of her pregnancy and, at the time of birth, we use warm compresses to help a mother relax her bottom, Arnica oil to minimize swelling, and we encourage her to gently her breathe her baby out. We also encourage a momma to touch the top of her baby’s head as a way to connect her with the power of her birthing, and to receive the baby into her own hands. This supports a gentler birth for momma and baby.
6. When you were growing up, did you know you’d be a midwife, or did the calling not come until later? What was your “Eureka!” moment?
Growing up, I was always drawn to babies. I loved their sweet-smelling skin and the way they snuggled up in your arms. I was not aware of midwives until I became a birth coach for a friend in my early 30s. During her childbirth classes, I learned about doulas, birth assistants, and midwives. At that time I was working in the Early Childhood/Early Intervention field with families whose young children had special needs, but upon learning about midwives I did, indeed, have a “Eureka” moment and knew it was time to embark on a new journey to serving families. I feel blessed to have served the women and families who have come into my care, helping them create the birthing experience they desire.
A handful of minutes from the DE Beaches, Marilee lives in Sussex County but travels and serves women all over DelMarVa. You can read more about Marilee and her gentle, nurturing style care on her professional profile, Marilee Pinkleton, CPM-DE, VA, where you’ll also find all of her contact information, and links to her midwifery practice website.
She’s a solid midwife, a highly respected preceptor, and one heck of a mother – we’re so grateful to have her with us at The LightHouse Birth Collective, and we know her clients feel that way, too – so give Marilee a call! Set something up. You’ll be so glad that you did.