Orange County has the luxury of having a wide variety of birthing options. Based on your health & criteria you can have a hospital birth with an OB or a Midwife, a homebirth with an OB or a Midwife or a birth center birth with a Midwife. As Doulas, we don't take these options for granted and our team has the distinct privilege to be able to learn and support families at any number of these birthing locations with any number of care providers.
Call us biased, but one of our favorites in this group of esteemed care providers is Lauren Slak, owner of Wholistic Women's Healthcare and Licensed Midwife. Lauren sees her homebirth midwifery clients at our office in Costa Mesa, so we have the honor to collaborate with her and learn from her quite often. She provides compassionate midwifery care, pre-conception counseling, and nurturing support to families throughout Orange, San Diego, & Riverside counties. Her calm yet confident presence is so refreshing and her knowledge and passion for birth is inspiring.
We chatted with Lauren recently about her life's work, her passions and her top tips for new parents:
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to find a passion for Midwifery.
When I was an undergraduate at the University of Southern California I lived in Mombasa, Kenya for a semester while I was conducting research for an honors thesis in political science. My research was on maternal and infant healthcare on the Swahili coast, specifically if programs (or lack thereof) working towards UN Millennium Development Goal V (reducing maternal mortality) were working (or not). I was fortunate enough to interview and eventually work with a Swahili midwife who let me catch a few babies while I was there. It was like a light went off in my head and I knew without a doubt that this is how I wanted to spend my life; kneeling on floors, sometimes covered in amniotic fluid, placing wet, squishy babies into mama’s waiting arms.
What is your birth philosophy?
My initial reaction to this question is that MY birth philosophy is significantly less important than the philosophy of the person birthing the baby. Birth is raw, and beautiful, and intense, and pushes women past what they ever thought was possible. This is true regardless of birth setting or the mode by which the baby leaves her mother’s body. Homebirth simply highlights these qualities because, for the most part, midwives don’t interfere with the mother, the baby, or the birth process. Is that a philosophy? I don’t know.
Where do you see your path in birth work heading?
For the immediate future, I am quite happy to tend my small practice in Orange County. I hope that wherever my path takes me, I am able to continue to serve women and babies.
As a Midwife what are your top 3 tips for new parents?
Enlist the help of family, a Postpartum Doula or close friends. No one needs to come over to hold your new baby. You won’t need help holding your new baby. You will need help with meal prep, house cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and caring for older children. People really do want to be helpful, so take them up on it.
Find a community of like-minded parents. I promise, they’re out there. (check out our parenting groups that meet regularly in Costa Mesa!)
Trust your instincts above all else. Google doesn’t know what’s best for your child. Neither do your well-meaning friends, pediatrician, or mother-in-law. Take in all the information you can from wise, informed sources but at the end of the day, make choices that make sense for your family.
What is your favorite part about homebirth?
The benefits of midwifery care go above and beyond the location of birth. In an ideal world, mothers would be informed and empowered throughout the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum regardless of which care provider they choose. I love homebirth because mothers and babies are subjected to fewer unnecessary interventions with comparable outcomes to hospital deliveries. For more information about the safety of homebirth, check out this recent study of 16,000 planned home births. At home, mother’s have more control over their experience. They are free to get into whatever position is comfortable, eat and drink throughout labor, and include their partner in the experience. Homebirth is wonderful for babies because they are not routinely taken from their mother, which allows for an undisturbed initiation of breastfeeding and bonding.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Like most birth professionals probably, the first thing I do every morning is look at my phone to make sure no one is in labor.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Who would you bring along?
I think I’d like my next trip to be somewhere in South America… Maybe Argentina or Uruguay. I would bring Patrick, my husband. (side note: Lauren just got married in April and had THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ceremony in Hawaii. Congratulations to her & Patrick!)
What else inspires you in life?
I like to think I see inspiration everywhere. But things I find particularly life-affirming and spiritually soothing? The ocean. The smell of plumeria. Sunshine. Driving home after tucking a new family into their bed. And probably guacamole.
Lauren Slak is currently taking new clients looking for homebirth midwifery services in the OC and surrounding areas. Visit her website to schedule a consultation with her!