BIRTHFIT Podcast Episode 97 Featuring Cathy Rude
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Hello, BIRTHFIT. This is your founder, Dr. Lindsey Mathews. I’ve got a special episode of the podcast up today with a lovely Cathy Rude of Katy Birth Center just outside of Houston, Texas. But before we start, a few announcements, a few things. If you were at the BIRTHFIT Coach Seminar in Houston, Texas, then you experienced all kinds of weather. We had it about 70 degrees on Saturday, and then Sunday was down into like the 30s. It was crazy. So I just want to thank everyone that showed up and was in attendance that day. Nobody missed the seminar which is crazy but we were all bundled up in blankets and could not wait to circle up and hug on each other to get some body heat. But thank you all. That was an awesome seminar, a lot of fun, a lot of super rad humans in the Houston, Texas area. So connect if you’re in Houston, Texas with your regional director, Leah Barto and Whitley of BIRTHFIT Bay Area, Houston. I won’t say Whitley’s last name because I butcher it every time, but those are your two regional directors.
All right, before we start, a little bit about Cathy. She’s a midwife. She has been a practicing midwife for over 30 years in the great state of Texas. She ended up having six children after doctors told her that she would not be able to conceive or bear children of her own at all. But you may know Cathy from Instagram where you may have seen her riding an inflatable white swan raft. Yes, she did. She rode an inflatable white swan raft to go meet a mama in labor during one of the Houston floods. So I think this was about two floods ago, not the last flood, Harvey. But you can find this picture on Instagram. It’s awesome. You will see basically through our conversation with Cathy and through some of the social media images just how dedicated she is and the midwives that she has on her staff, how dedicated they are to their families and the women that they serve. So I really hope you enjoy this episode. And if you’re in the Houston area, I’d encourage you to connect with Katy Birth Center, and at least go check them out. I think they have open house Mondays or sometime once a week, and that’s free. So you can just go show up, check it out just to see if the idea of a birth center birth is for you. So enjoy.
Welcome to The BIRTHFIT Podcast. I will let you introduce yourself because I will probably butcher everything. But I have with me Cathy who’s the owner of Katy Birth Center, correct?
Cathy: That’s right. I have two co-owners. So we have three midwives that own Katy Birth Center.
Lindsey: Three owners.
Cathy: We have three owners, yes.
Lindsey: Do you all like her accent? I do. All right. So you are a midwife and you are practicing in the great state of Texas. So tell us all about how this got started because I know, growing up in Texas, I hadn’t even heard of a midwife until I got to California. So how did you start your journey?
Cathy: Well, actually my journey started by my own infertility. I got married really young, I was only 18, and I got pregnant probably six or seven months after we got married but I didn’t know that I was pregnant. I just had a horrific, horrific miscarriage, but I didn’t know that it was a miscarriage. And I went to the doctor to find out what was wrong. And this was in 1972, so this was before abortions were legal. And so I went in and saw this older male doctor, and he goes, “Oh, you’re in the middle of a missed abortion.” And I didn’t know what that was except I knew I certainly did not have an abortion. I mean I didn’t even know I was pregnant. And he explained that meant that I was losing a pregnancy but that the baby hadn’t passed yet because I said, “Wait a minute. No, I didn’t have an abortion,” but that’s just the term that was used.
Lindsey: So that was the term used for miscarriage then?
Cathy: It still is.
Lindsey: Missed abortion. Wow.
Cathy: If you haven’t passed the baby. There’s a threatened abortion and there’s all different kinds of terms depending on what’s happening. So he didn’t really explain much but all of a sudden at the same moment I realized I was pregnant but I wasn’t pregnant or that I had lost the baby. So I started crying. And I don’t know if he was uncomfortable, but he kind of chastised me and said, “I don’t know why you’re upset. You’re way too young to have a baby anyway. You ought to be glad.” And I was just horrified, but I was also really shut down from being able to express how I felt and like there was something wrong with me, a bit feeling grief. So I just kind of stuffed all those feelings for a really long time.
Within a few months I was diagnosed with endometriosis, and the doctor that did that surgery told me that I had a really bad case, and I would probably never have children. I was only 19.
Lindsey: So this happened before you were even 20. Oh, my goodness.
Cathy: So we were not planning on having babies any time soon. That certainly wasn’t our plan. We were hippies. That was just not in the cards at that point in our lives. But when you’re told you probably will never have a baby and you want to have a baby someday, then that makes you want to try really hard. So we did. We started really pursuing trying to get pregnant for the next six years. During that time I read a lot. This was before the internet.
Lindsey: So what did you grab to read?
Cathy: Just anything I could find. Go to the library. Go to the bookstore. Our Bodies Ourselves was the first book that I really read about anything that kind of said anything about midwives. I was very intrigued by that. I was always interested in birth and women having babies ever since I was a child, but I never considered it. I was in college. I was taking Child Development and I hadn’t really thought about becoming a — I didn’t even know about becoming a midwife. I didn’t know anybody that had ever used a midwife, but I thought I want to be a midwife. That’s really what I want to do.
So after six years of trying unsuccessfully to have a baby, which was very stressful on our marriage, and everything was timed and it was really hard, I finally decided — in the process I had been going to school and taking all the pre-nursing classes. So I went ahead and applied to UT Nursing School, got accepted into the next class that was starting in January, this was in the summer before. And then decided okay, I’m just putting this having-a-baby stuff on the back shelf, and I’ll help other people have their babies. And within a couple of months I was pregnant.
Lindsey: Oh, my goodness. Before you started nursing school?
Lindsey: Wow, okay.
Cathy: Again, I didn’t know anybody that delivered babies, I mean that delivered babies at home or in a birth center. In fact, I don’t even think they had birth centers then. So I went to three different OBs, trying to find somebody that would give me a really natural birth experience. This was in Dallas. And finally with the third one he promised, “Oh, yes, we can do this, we can do that,” a lot of things that people don’t even know about now like the Leboyer method which was real quiet, peaceful, have the lights turned down, give the baby a bath right after the delivery, keep everything really soft-spoken, things like that. He was like, “Sure, sure, we’ll do all that. We’re not going to induce you. We’re not going to give you an episiotomy,” all the things that were important to me to have a natural birth.
I did have a natural birth, but when I was ready to start pushing he gave me a fourth degree episiotomy without my permission or even asking. A fourth degree episiotomy is the biggest one you can have. The first degree is skin, second degree is skin and muscle, third is skin, muscle, anal, sphincter, fourth is skin, muscle, anal, sphincter and rectal wall. So that was rough. It took me a long time to recover from that. At that time, episiotomies were very routine, most everybody got them especially on a first baby, but he had assured me we wouldn’t be doing that. So that was my first experience with doctors not telling you the truth.
Lindsey: Yes, and kind of false expectations. It’s kind of heartbreaking.
Cathy: But I did have my baby, everything went well, she was healthy. I did eventually recover after about six months but it was rough, it was rough.
Lindsey: So did they tell you anything about recovery?
Cathy: Very little, very little. That’s one thing that is so much better with midwifery care is that your midwife is with you, and her whole goal is to educate you so that you can make informed decisions. And it’s not just telling you this is the way it is, this is the way you have to do, but saying, “Here are your options. Here are some different things that could happen. What do you want?” And just being there for you. My clients can call me or text me any time. I don’t have an answering service.
Lindsey: You are the answering service. So did you ever go to nursing school?
Cathy: I never finished, no, I didn’t. So I had my first baby and didn’t know if we’d ever have another after all of that. And I weaned her when she was a year old, and I got pregnant two weeks later.
Cathy: So my first two were 19 months apart. And then we didn’t get pregnant again for a number of years. And finally had another one when the oldest was six and a half and the youngest was almost five. And then I had another one. All three of these were hospital births. Each one was a little better because I knew more and I knew what to ask and I was very outspoken about what I wanted and what I wasn’t going to do. So after my third baby I got to have my baby in a birthing room, got to go home within six hours of birth. And it was just as close as I’ve ever been able to get to to have a natural out-of-hospital birth, but it was in the hospital.
Lindsey: Where was that at?
Cathy: That was at Cy Fair Hospital here in Houston. And they only had that service for maybe a year. And I was one of the very first ones who used that room. Bud I don’t think they made enough money.
Lindsey: So that’s why it disappeared.
Cathy: Anyway, and then I had three more babies after that.
Lindsey: Oh, my goodness.
Cathy: So God gave me a baby for every year my infertility.
Lindsey: For every year of my infertility, that’s great.
Cathy: He did. So we were surprised with my last baby because I was already a midwife, and I had five children we’d homeschooled. We then had a really, really busy life for a really long time. And I was 42 and had my last one.
Lindsey: Oh, my goodness. So you have six kids total after they told you how you’re not going to. Wow.
Lindsey: That’s a miracle.
Cathy: It is.
Lindsey: So when did you decide to start midwifery school?
Cathy: Well, I always wanted to after my first baby, and then I would have another baby.
Lindsey: [0:18:44] [Unintelligible]
Cathy: So I kept putting it off and putting it off for my children. And we were committed to homeschooling. So it just wasn’t happening, but I always had that desire and that goal at some point. I’m really glad that it worked out the way it did because I truly believe that midwifery is a job for an older woman. I’ve known younger midwives, and they’re some wonderful younger midwives, but I feel like older women have all the life experience, plus they don’t have little kids.
Lindsey: Yes, they’re grown.
Cathy: You need to be available to your children when they’re growing up. I feel really, really strongly about that. I did have a baby after I was a midwife, but I had a lot of older children that were home and I had a husband that worked out of our home, and he was very supportive and helpful. He’d bring the baby to me to nurse out of birth and things like that.
Lindsey: Oh, my gosh, well, that’s just giving me chills. That’s awesome. So tell me about maybe the first couple of years being a midwife. Was that exactly what you thought it would be or was there anything surprising? Was this like in the ’80s? I’m trying to put the timeline together.
Cathy: No, this was in the early ’90s.
Lindsey: Early ’90s, okay, so before the internet.
Cathy: My first daughter was born in ’78, and then from then on it was —
Lindsey: Got it.
Cathy: Until the last one was born in ’95, and I was already a midwife. So the first two years I had an opportunity to take a class that the Department of State Health Services offered. And it was literally a week long class, 9:00 to 5:00. I went down to Pasadena to a midwife’s birth center, and I went through a course. And it wasn’t really anything hands on. It was all pretty much book work and lecture. And at the end of that I got a certificate that said I was a documented midwife in the state of Texas. And I was like, “I am not a midwife.”
Lindsey: I need more experience.
Cathy: I’m not quite ready for this. And at the same time God sent a lovely woman named Debbie Perry to live in Houston, and she moved not far from me. And I heard about her from somebody else. And she had been a midwife in Virginia, and she was moving here, and she wanted to start practicing here. And we were very involved in the homeschool community and in our church. And I knew a lot of people and a lot of people that were interested in natural birth. So we just hooked up together and I basically did an apprenticeship with her and helped her get clients. And actually I probably did all those births because she was a great teacher and she just had me do all the catches right from the very beginning.
Then I chose on my own to take a course through the Association of Texas Midwives that I didn’t have to but I wanted to to learn as much as I could because I wanted to be a good midwife. So I did that, and it was a correspondence course, and it has changed. I’ve been on the board of the Association of Texas Midwives for many years. We have a really wonderful, wonderful school, and I’m very much an advocate of it. I don’t like to take apprentices that are not going through that school. And it’s excellent. It’s about a three, thee-and-a-half year program, and it’s very different than my one week.
Lindsey: I bet. So let’s go off on that fork in the road for a minute. If somebody wants to be a midwife in Texas, what would they go through now?
Cathy: That is my recommendation, is to take the Association of Texas Midwives midwifery course, and do an apprenticeship with a practicing midwife.
Cathy: You also have the option of doing what I was originally going to do which was to go to nursing school, get your BSN and then go to midwifery school which was my plan. And then I was going to have to go out of state back in the ’70s when I was planning on doing this because there were no midwifery schools in Texas. And so I was going to go to Mississippi which they don’t have a school there now anymore.
Lindsey: I was thinking about that. I don’t think Mississippi or Alabama —
Cathy: But they did then. So that’s where I was going to go, but then those plans changed. But we do have several options for people that want to go that route. I think there are a lot of benefits of being a nurse first, but you can learn those skills without going to nursing school. But I know with having my own apprentices over the years, having that nursing background is helpful, it really is.
Lindsey: The experience and stuff like that. Like you said, maybe being a midwife is for an older woman because of the experience.
Cathy: I’ll have really young girls that will come interview with me, that are unmarried. And I’ll say, “Okay, you’re going to have a mom that’s coming in talking to you, and she’s depending on you because you’re her care provider. And she’s having trouble in her sex life, in her pregnancy. What are you going to tell her?”
Lindsey: She’s like, “I don’t know. I’ve never been down that road.”
Cathy: They’re going to be asking you, “What do I do with this baby that’s crying all night? How do I deal with that? What do I do? My nipples are hurting. How do I deal with that? You can learn things, absolutely, to help people with those things, but having experienced it yourself gives you such a different level of empathy and support.
Lindsey: The empathy is huge and a little credibility. That’s awesome. I’m glad Texas has midwives now.
Cathy: I’m very glad. Actually Texas is one of the best states.
Lindsey: So I was interviewing somebody from Austin last year or Dallas, it was actually Dallas. And they were telling me that Texas is one of the best places to give birth now.
Cathy: If it’s out-of-hospital.
Lindsey: So women can give birth at home or birth center in Texas now.
Lindsey: Does insurance or anything cover that?
Lindsey: What? That’s way better than California.
Cathy: Oh, yes. California was good and California has gone down as far as availability. My daughter had her first baby in California. I was planning to go out there and deliver her once she was close to due date time because they had insurance, and the only insurance that would pay was going through a doctor. So she was going to a doctor just for her prenatals. But she went into labor early before I was there.
But in the meantime, I had contacted several midwives in the area because I was going to be coming on the plane. This was not long. This was 2003. So it was not very long after 9/11. I couldn’t take oxygen on the plane. I couldn’t even take my instruments. Everything was really locked down about things like that for flying. So I was looking for a midwife that would help me out, be a backup for me if I was late getting there or something, and I couldn’t find one that would really help me. They were so nervous about the climate and how much things had changed for them and the things they had to give up. And they were kind of in the forefront in the ’70s and ’80s, but things have not going to well for them.
Lindsey: I think in the last 10 years, maybe 12 years, was when they did away with twin births and vaginal breeches. Is that still in Texas?
Cathy: We still have that here.
Lindsey: That’s good.
Cathy: It’s getting harder and harder. I’ve done a number of breech births, and I don’t feel like they’re very much different than a regular vaginal birth.
Lindsey: You just need some experience.
Cathy: And we don’t have tons of twins, but we have some, but those are more complicated typically than a regular singleton birth. If we had to, I wouldn’t mind giving those up, but the one I don’t want to give up is VBACs.
Lindsey: Oh, yes.
Cathy: I love helping VBAC moms.
Lindsey: Tell me what you love about because I’ve interviewed three moms that have done VBAC, and their stories, you’re crying by the end of it.
Cathy: Oh, yes, yes. Definitely, there are women that have C-sections that needed a C-section, but there’s a lot of women that do not need that C-section. It was a time thing or the baby was just in a little bit of funky position, and they didn’t even know that there were things they could do to help and change that. Many women with C-sections feel like failures or feel like their body is broken or they can’t do this, and being able to help them have a successful vaginal birth is so wonderfully healing and empowering for them. I love it. I love it. When you look at the risk factors, and you need to look at their particular history, I don’t say, “Yes, we do a VBAC for everybody.”
Lindsey: What do you look for when you’re taking in a VBAC client?
Cathy: We have a whole list of criteria. I just want to hear their birth story, everything, what happened, why they had the C-section, what was the timing, were they in support of it, was it done against their will. There are just so many variables. I do have a list of risk factors, but it’s her, it’s her experience.
Cathy: It is. It’s very unique. But I really want to be able to give that to the women that want it, and I would really fight hard to not give that up.
Lindsey: So in Texas right now it’s getting harder to deliver?
Cathy: Well, there’s a lot of pushback from the Texas Medical Board.
Lindsey: Got it, okay.
Cathy: We have a paid lobbyist in our organization that we spend a lot of money to keep our laws safe for birthing women to be able to have choice.
Lindsey: It is the money that talks. We learned that. I’m a chiropractor, so I spent two years lobbying in DC, but you realize, “Oh, I need to spend more money if I’m going to go up and get my voice heard.” I could imagine here in Texas.
So we got the question yesterday, and I always get this question, what do you look for — just a regular mom, first time birth, if they are considering an out-of-hospital birth, their criteria or things that you look for, yellow flags, red flags.
Cathy: Well, there’s also a lot of different things. You got to look at their history, their physical medical history. Are they a diabetic? Do they have a heart condition? There are some really serious things that would not be wise for them to consider an out-of-hospital birth. I have two pages list of things that we go through. If you have diabetes or a heart defect, then —
Lindsey: It would be wiser to go to the hospital.
Cathy: That’s going to risk you out automatically. But we have other things that if you had three or four of those things that would probably risk you out. One thing we look at is obesity. It increases your risk for a lot of different things. That doesn’t mean that I don’t deliver obese women, I do, but I also feel like I’m going to spend that next nine months helping them to make wiser choices about what they’re eating and how they’re moving and exercising. I have a lot of overweight women that will deliver healthy eight, nine-pound babies and weighed less the day they deliver than when they got pregnant.
Lindsey: Isn’t that wild, huh?
Cathy: But it’s doable, you can do it. It’s also what they want. You have to listen. You have to hear what are their expectations, what do they want out of this, where are their fears. Fear is a huge factor in birth. And just from people hearing horror stories and maybe some things their mothers tell them, I always ask them, “What did your mother say about birth? How did she feel about birth?” because that stuff is imprinted on you from such a young age. And it’s not that you can’t overcome it but you need to be aware of it so that you can deal with it.
Lindsey: Little mindset work. So how many births do you take on a month?
Cathy: It varies. My goal is about four a month. I’ve had 10 or 12 before. And I’ve had two or three. There’s a big range but I’d say the average is four to six is pretty much what I’ve done. When I was first starting out, I had five kids at home, my youngest was two and a half, and we were homeschooling. I just made a commitment right from the very beginning that I would only do a maximum of two births a month. And God didn’t give me more than that most of the time, and it was really awesome. And then as my kids got bigger and some of them started going to school — my oldest daughter homeschooled until she went to college, and my next one homeschooled until he was a sophomore in high school, and then the next one homeschooled until she was a freshman, and she wanted to go to school to play sports, then my next one went I think in seventh grade, and the next one went in fourth grade, and then my baby that was born, she was in school from the beginning, and she’s graduating from Texas State in May with a degree in Nutrition and Exercise Science.
Lindsey: Oh, my gosh. So is she going to come back and help you or do her own thing?
Cathy: No, she’s not interested in midwifery.
Lindsey: Is there anybody?
Cathy: I had three girls and none of them really. I thought my oldest daughter might. She became a massage therapist. She got married. She’s mostly a stay-at-home mom and a model and does some acting.
Lindsey: Oh, my goodness.
Cathy: And then my other daughter is a jewelry designer. She lives in Austin.
Lindsey: So they’re all creative.
Cathy: They are.
Lindsey: So what have you seen as the biggest changes in the birth world in Texas? You’ve been doing it for 20 years.
Cathy: Well, the thing that I kind of used to judge is — I’ve been speaking in the high schools for about 22 years, and I go to the different high schools in Katy, either a child development class or life skills or some kind of usually upper level junior/senior kind of class where they have a unit on birth. So right from the beginning, somebody asked me if I would go speak at a school, and I went, “Oh, that’s a great idea.” So I’ve done ever since and I love it. To be able to go in and speak to these young people that back then when I first started doing it I would go in and say, “Have you ever heard of anybody having a baby outside the hospital?” and they would always say no, nobody had ever heard of that. Now, when I go in, every class, “Oh, yes, my aunt had her baby at home or my big sister had a baby at a birth center or yes, I’ve heard about that or we’ve seen something on a documentary.” There’s something, they know, they’re aware so it’s not a totally foreign idea. But being able to go in and tell them what it’s like to have an out-of-hospital birth and what the differences are between a hospital birth and an out-of-hospital birth and how you have so many more options and choices and it’s about what you want instead of the rules that you have to follow at the hospital. And then I get thank you letters from them. I saved all of them. And I’ve had some of those people that have come back after they’ve grown up and graduated and gone to college and moved back to Katy and said, “Hey, I’m pregnant with my first baby, and I heard about this as an option in high school.”
Lindsey: Oh, that’s awesome.
Cathy: So that’s been a really awesome experience.
Lindsey: Full circle.
Lindsey: What do you think needs to change in the future or would you like to see?
Cathy: Well, we have gone backward in many ways since I have been a midwife in what is happening in the hospitals. When I had my baby, that was just the beginning of starting to have ultrasounds. I didn’t have an ultrasound with my first two babies.
Lindsey: Now it’s routine.
Cathy: Several times. And it was totally normal for you to plan to have a natural birth.
Lindsey: In the hospital.
Cathy: In the hospital, it was totally normal. In fact, we didn’t even have epidurals then. They did have other kinds of localized pudendal block and paracervical and things but they’re really not used much anymore. But now, people’s attitude, because it’s been happening for such a long time, is, “Well, of course, I’m going to go to the hospital and have an epidural. Why would I want to feel anything?” But people that have had a negative experience doing that and decide they want something different and come to us, they are so empowered by the process of birth and being able to experience that it’s just the magnitude of what your body can do and learning how to work with it to allow this miraculous event to come about is so wonderfully empowering. That’s what grows a mother. You need to go through pregnancy, you need to go through labor, you need to go through birth to become the mother that God intended you to be. You can’t do that if you’re numb to all of it as well. I’m not saying you can’t, but it’s a harder process. I think it enables you to realize this is hard, this is a hard job, but I’m strong and I can do this, and I can be a mother as well.
Lindsey: It’s like a rite of passage.
Cathy: Oh, very much so.
Lindsey: I always say much of our society has become numb to a lot of things. In California — I live, like I said earlier, in Los Angeles — and what you said earlier about why would I want to feel that? But we’re constantly battling how do we explore the idea of a natural birth or not even a natural birth, but the idea that your body is capable of whatever you want it to be capable of. I think that’s the hardest question. It’s hard to give women those tools and allow them to see what they’re actually capable of because I feel like society has kind of taken away their power.
Cathy: And their belief in their abilities that this is too hard, you can’t do this. And it is hard, it’s hard, it’s hard work, but you are able, you can do it, you can do it. And having a midwife and having a supportive partner and having people around you that believe in you and know that you can do it, it is amazing what hearing that over and over, “You can do it, you are doing it, you’re strong.”
Lindsey: You are doing it.
Cathy: You are doing it. Somebody will say, “I can’t do it.” Yes, you are, you’re already doing it.
Lindsey: You’re in it. I love that.
Cathy: I always say if somebody says, “I can’t,” I say, “No, no. Say I can, I can. Call out for Lord to give you the strength that you need to keep moving forward.”
Lindsey: Have some faith. So I’ve heard the story of you riding a swan into birth. And for those of you that are listening, reminder, you’re in Houston, Texas, and it flooded her last year, and I hear it floods quite often. So tell me a little bit about that story.
Cathy: It was actually two years ago.
Lindsey: Two years, not that long ago.
Cathy: It was 2016, April. It was the Tax Day Flood.
Lindsey: Tax Day Flood.
Cathy: We had a huge, huge flood. I had a mom that was due any minute. I had delivered her. She had a previous C-section with her first baby, and then she had a VBAC with her second and had a wonderful experience. And she knew she was starting have signs and it was time, and she was very worried that I wasn’t going to be able to get out because my street was flooded. I could not get off of my street unless I wanted to walk in —
Lindsey: Waist deep.
Cathy: Which I’ve done before for a birth long time ago but I’m getting older and I’m not really wanting to do that. I had all my stuff too that I needed to carry. So her husband had a big pickup truck. He was going to find a way to get me. It had stopped raining. It was a beautiful day. It was sun shiny outside. And she was starting to have some contractions. He was able to get through maneuvering a lot of different little side streets and things. He was able to get to the end of my street which is a cul-de-sac but he couldn’t drive down the street. And one of my neighbors was on this inflatable swan just enjoying the —
Lindsey: The flood.
Cathy: Yes. Actually, Andrea, the mom, saw her floating and yelled out at her and said, “Hey, would you help my midwife get off the street?” And she goes, “Cathy? Yes, sure.” So she called me, Andrea, the mom called me, and she said, “A swan is coming to take you to us.” And I was like, “What?” And so I go open my front door, and this swan floated out to my front door. So I got on and we floated to the end of the street, got in the car, went to the birth center, and had a baby.
Lindsey: Oh, my gosh, do you have that picture up in your office?
Cathy: I don’t.
Lindsey: You should. That’s awesome. So she had the baby that day?
Lindsey: Oh, my God. What about any babies last flood? Was it Harvey?
Cathy: Harvey, yes. My street was also flooded. In fact, I was flooded for four days. I couldn’t get off for four days. But I did not have any babies due. One of the other midwives did. She couldn’t get to her and the client couldn’t get to Connie because there was too much water in between the two of them. She lived very closet our West Houston Hospital off of Richmond. So she said, “Just go to the hospital. I’m sorry but it’s just an emergency.” So she did, she went to the hospital, and they said, “I’m sorry. We can’t take care of you.”
Lindsey: Because she was planning an out-of-hospital birth?
Cathy: No, because they said it was an emergency time and they might have to evacuate. They weren’t flooded then but they might. So Connie was talking to them on the phone. “What do you mean? You can’t just turn away a laboring woman.” And they said, “Yes, we can.” “Well, what is she going to do? Have the baby in the parking lot?” “Well, I guess.” We have filed a formal complaint about that.
Anyway, she then remembered there was a birth center in the area as well. I didn’t know if there was anybody that could get there or what their status was. But there was a midwife that was really close to the birth center, and she met the client there and delivered her at that birth center. So that worked out good.
Lindsey: Oh, that was awesome.
Cathy: But I was shocked.
Lindsey: Wow. So in Houston, how’s the relationship with hospitals, OB-GYNs? Do you all have backups?
Cathy: We have a wonderful backup. The hospital that we back up to is Memorial Hermann Memorial City which is down I-10 to Gessner, just past the Beltway, so you kind of know where that is.
Lindsey: Kind of, yeah.
Cathy: But it’s about 20-25 minutes from our birth center. But there’s another hospital closer that’s also a Memorial Hermann, Katy, and we use that if we need to do something very quickly. But most of the time most transport situations are not time-sensitive, and so most of the time we can go to Memorial City. And our backup doctor, we’ve had him for three and a half years, I think. He moved here from Laredo. He had worked with midwives before. He’s been helpful, super supportive. Our clients like him. We feel very blessed. We know a lot of nurses there at the hospital, and they’re supportive. It gives us a positive experience. That is not the case in every hospital in Houston.
Lindsey: Nor Los Angeles. I wish the relationships could be better.
Cathy: I feel like there are pockets that are good, but I feel like, overall, there’s very, very much distrust, hostility on both sides. That’s why we’re very thankful we have the situation we do. But there are a lot of places in Texas that they don’t have backup. We have one of our board members who live in Big Spring, kind of in West Texas, and there’s not any option. She doesn’t have backup.
Lindsey: Yeah, you’re limited by what you have in your city or your town. It’s unfortunate. I think somebody at the seminar was talking about that this weekend. They’re like, “I wanted a home birth but there’s nobody around.”
Cathy: We need more midwives. We need more midwives everywhere. I think there’s only maybe 250 midwives in Texas.
Lindsey: In Texas. I don’t know if you all know how big this state is. That’s not going to cut it. Wow. Okay. So do you have any students or apprentices under you right now?
Cathy: I do.
Lindsey: How many do you have?
Cathy: Right now I have one, and then I have another one that’s going to be starting. The apprentice I have now is an elder mom. All of her kids are grown. She’s been with me a little over a year and a half. She has about another year to go. She’s starting to do more hands-on care and things like that. I think she’s going to be a great midwife.
Lindsey: Do you keep them on or do you send them off?
Cathy: It just depends. One of the midwives we have at the birth center is one of our previous apprentices. In fact, Natalie, one of the other co-owners, was my apprentice. And Connie, the other co-owner, was my birth assistant before. She was a nurse but worked in neonatal and was a lactation consultant and all that. And then she went back to school after we started talking about opening a birth center, and got her CNM.
Lindsey: Got it. That’s awesome. So before we get off, a few questions I’d like to ask, one or two depending on how much time we have. What kind of advice, maybe one piece of wisdom or three tips, whatever you got, for women that are about to give birth?
Cathy: That’s hard because it depends on where they’re coming from. If they have not availed themselves of taking childbirth classes — I mean, what, they’re going to have a baby next week?
Lindsey: Let’s talk about childbirth classes because this is the most obvious totally because so many people don’t take childbirth classes or they depend on their doctor. I see it more on the OB-GYN side, like when women are, “I’m just going to trust what my doctor has to say.” Don’t you think women should take childbirth ed classes?
Cathy: We require it. It’s required. Even though the amount of time that we spend with our clients and we do tons of teaching, it’s still not the same. You need that concentrated time. We offer three different childbirth classes at our birth center. For first time moms, they’re absolutely, adamantly required. If it’s a first time for an out-of-hospital birth but you’ve had a previous hospital birth, they’re still strongly encouraged.
Cathy: Because you’re going to have a better experience the more you know. Have you ever heard of the fear-tension-pain cycle?
Lindsey: Yeah, Grantly Dick-Read, yeah.
Cathy: And if people understood that you can break that with education and you won’t have that, because if you’re not afraid because you’re educated, you’re not going to be tense, and if you’re to tense you’re not going to have as much pain. And it’s just a huge, huge thing. That’s why people have so much pain in labor usually is because they’re tense. You hurt so much more when you’re tightened up than when you’re relaxed. And I’ll also give you a little bit of plug. We also encourage all of our clients to get chiropractic care.
Cathy: We do.
Lindsey: Brilliant. Do you all work with local chiros here?
Cathy: We do, and we’re very picky.
Lindsey: You got to be because they’re all not the same.
Cathy: Well, they don’t all have the same training. And we want ICPA chiros. We feel like it makes a huge difference in the success of the birth.
Lindsey: It totally does. And they’re doing a lot of studies, ICPA, about — I don’t know when they’ll come out — labor times, position, stuff like that, and even on the other side, pediatric side.
Cathy: That’s right. And we also love our new babies regardless of what their birth experience was like to get adjusted.
Lindsey: Because it helps.
Cathy: Sometimes we have the chiros come to the birth center and adjust the babies before they even go home or just the mamas in labor.
Lindsey: I worked at two birth centers in Los Angeles. It was long hours but so thrilling.
Cathy: Did you ever adjust anybody in labor in the water?
Lindsey: In the water? No but I did do stuff like their head and neck more massage, soft tissue stuff like cranial work.
Cathy: I had a first-time mom in labor, and the baby was a little bit asynclitic and she was having some back labor. And I called one of our chiros. She was in the birth pool. Megan came over, and she’s feeling her back as she’s floating in the water. I said, “Can you adjust her in the water?” She goes, “I’ve never done it but we’ll try.” She did it. Had the baby.
Lindsey: That’s awesome.
Cathy: It was awesome.
Lindsey: I love that. Anywhere, anytime. That’s amazing. So let’s look at pregnancy as a whole, maybe they’re not 35 weeks about to have a baby. But what pieces of advice would you give moms about to embark on this journey?
Cathy: I think the most important thing is education. Understand what your options are, what you need to know to be healthy. It’s so important to have a really good diet, pay attention to the quality of the food that you’re eating as well as what food you’re eating, staying active, and using your body during pregnancy is going to build your endurance and help you do better in labor. So those two things are huge, huge, huge. But I think dealing with your belief system and understanding that God made you to do this, and believing that, embracing it, and allowing God to walk alongside you and help you because there’s a point in every single laboring mom’s life where she has to surrender, she has to get go, and she has to say, “Whatever it takes, I’m going to do it.” Sometimes that’s in pregnancy, they have to let that go. Sometimes it’s in labor. Sometimes it’s in transition, probably more often. Sometimes it’s in pushing. But there’s a point, every single woman has it. I don’t care how many babies you’ve had, you just reach that point. And to be able to have somebody that recognizes that and walks alongside you and help you and support you and believes in you is just huge.
Lindsey: Yeah, I love that. All right, postpartum, what kind of advice do you have for let’s say like the first six weeks postpartum?
Cathy: Postpartum is such a huge, huge time in your life, and it’s hard. If you thought labor was hard, often postpartum is almost harder because you’re so sleep deprived, you’re so tired, you just do not get very much sleep, you just don’t. But you’ve got to figure out how to make that happen because it’s so important. And having somebody that is available to you 24/7 is one of best things about midwifery care. You can call her at 3:00 a.m. and say, “I don’t know what to do,” and we answer and we’ll help you and we’ll walk you through what’s going on. And having help with lactation support is huge. Midwives are experts at that. But if it’s bigger than something we typically deal with, we don’t hesitate to send you to a lactation consultant or a suck therapist or whatever that situation is going to need.
Lindsey: Support, tribe.
Cathy: Huge, huge, huge support. Breastfeeding isn’t just, okay, stick your baby up on your nipple, and it happens.
Lindsey: It’s magic.
Cathy: It’s usually not magic. It’s pretty awesome, maybe the first time for the first ten minutes, but then it gets harder usually because then you get sore nipples and then you get engorged, and then just all different kinds of things. You just need help. You need help. You can do it, and it’s wonderfully rewarding. It’s the best thing ever for the baby and the best thing ever for you to breastfeed. It’s great, but it isn’t just an automatic intuitive, “Oh, well, I can do this.” There are a few very lucky people that that’s the case but probably not the most.
Lindsey: Not that common.
Lindsey: We need more lactation consultants too.
Cathy: We do.
Lindsey: So where can people find you if they’re listening to this and they’re thinking, “Oh, my gosh, I need to find her website, come meet her, have a baby with her”?
Cathy: Our website is katybirthcenter.com. So it’s real easy. We offer a meet the midwives every Monday afternoon from 4:00 to 5:00 where anybody that wants to can call in and fill out a consultation form, come in and meet us, tour our birth center, ask questions, meet our biller, our office manager if you have any questions about insurance. We do offer an early cash pay for people that either have a really high deductible or they have an HMO kind of thing because we’re out of network. So those are not options. And over the last couple of years with the Affordable Care Act, Houston changed for all the independent policies. They were all HMOS in Houston. You could not get one that was a PPO to be able to have an out of network. So that was difficult.
Lindsey: Heck, yeah. It’s awesome though, the meet the midwife, ask questions about billing, because I don’t know of maybe one birth center in Los Angeles that offers something like that, which is pretty nice.
Cathy: I just think it’s important to be able to see where you’re talking about going before you make your first appointment. We’ve always offered free consultations, but this was a little bit easier way to do it than to have every single person that’s interested to come in and just the time too that that takes, not only us but them too. So this works really well.
Lindsey: Awesome. Did I miss anything about your journey or who you are in this world? I think it’s amazing who you are.
Cathy: Thank you. I have loved, loved, love the journey that God has had me on with midwifery, and I feel very honored that I can walk alongside these super wonderful, strong women to encourage and help them, respect them, empower them, help them to become the mother that they were meant to be, and to love them along the way.
Lindsey: That’s beautiful. We’re going to stop there. Thank you for giving us your time.
Cathy: You’re welcome. Thank you.
Lindsey: This has been wonderful.
All right, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, all ages that are listening. I hope you enjoyed that episode with Cathy of Katy Birth Center. Reminder, she has been a midwife in practice for over 30 years. She basically, in my point of view, started midwifery in Texas for what it is today. So if you have questions at all concerning anything, I would strongly encourage you to reach out to the Katy Birth Center. I know lots of women and families that have used them for their births, for birth education and so on. Great resource there.
Cathy touched on birth education as one thing that women in their pregnancy should do. This is huge. She mentioned that their first time moms are required to take a birth education course, and I would agree with her. I know this s a bold statement. I’m also in the belief that our bodies know innately what to do but this is taking an Anatomy and Physiology class 101 in college. This is your Birth Education class 101. Every single one of our BIRTHFIT regional directors offers a BIRTHFIT prenatal series which this is our version of a birth education class. So if you don’t take it with us, take a birth education course somewhere especially, especially, especially if this is your first pregnancy. You will learn a ton in there. The more you’re exposed to the information, the more you become just that much more comfortable with it. So sign up for a birth education course today.
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