Hello, my name is Gloria Cunningham. I have three grown daughters and eight grandchildren. I hope by sharing a little about my birth journey, you may better understand what is unique about my approach to birth.
My first experience with birth was as a Labor Coach for a friend planning a homebirth. She couldn’t find a midwife, but a group of women, very active in the women’s self-help movement, but no birth experience, agreed to attend her. We ended up transporting shortly before the birth (mostly do to lack of experience) and though not as planned, had a positive experience.
My own three births where all hospital births, all with childbirth education classes, all pain meds free. I trusted my doctor which determined my place of birth (I didn’t think it mattered). Intellectually I believed that Birth Worked, emotionally I wasn’t sure that applied to me.
To sum up my births:
My first – I was surprised by my body’s ability to birth.
I was blessed to have a "holiday staff;" rather than being “messed with,” I was basically left alone so I was able to do what my body needed. I thought that was what hospital birth was like!
My second – I was surprised by routine hospital protocol.
I could not believe what they wanted to do while I was busy laboring!! (fetal monitoring, IV, bloodwork, dilation checks) I was incensed! I also had a 3+ perineal tear.
My third – A surprise pregnancy, with many ups and downs - a lesson in acceptance - same doctor, different hospital. I was terrified of tearing again, had a visualization tape made. My water broke (surprise!) – no labor, Pitocin induction. I believed in my body's ability to birth. I advocated for myself, insisting that I remain upright, which shortened my labor and gave me the ability to birth on Pitocin without pain meds. Even with more interventions, I felt empowered by my birth!
When my youngest started to wean I began training to teach childbirth classes through Informed Homebirth/Informed Birth & Parenting (ALACE as it is now known). Since I had not had a homebirth I needed more birth experiences, so I joined a volunteer program through Oakland Family Services which trained labor assistants (the term Doula was not in common use yet) as part of a teen grant/study on perinatal outcomes.
A year later, I began practicing professionally as a Doula and Certified Childbirth Instructor. I taught privately and in hospitals, specializing in visualization, and attended births throughout Metro Detroit.
I became active in ICAN and had a lot of clients choosing VBACs; they wanted and needed to stay home longer so they weren’t “messed with” by protocol. I decided that I needed more training to do that safely, so I apprenticed with a Homebirth Midwife/Bradley Instructor and went to Casa de Naciemiento in El Paso, Texas for an internship, was in study groups, advanced trainings, and attended many workshops to complete my training.
Birth is so powerful.
When a mother is empowered in her birth,
life changes for the better, for everyone she touches!
At that time my practice included homebirths but my primary focus had become giving women who, for whatever reason, did not want a homebirth, an option other than needlessly turning their entire birth over to hospital protocol.
I have honed those skills of that “in between” woman, to provide a safe option for empowering my clients, drawing on my extensive training and experience, including my midwifery skills.
I'm grateful to work with families in this most special and powerful event and look forward to supporting, guiding and nurturing you to your Empowering Birth!
Call or drop me a note to discuss YOUR journey.
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