Category Archives: History of Midwifery in the Western World

1900-1550 BC: In ancient Egypt, midwifery was a recognized female occupation, described in the Ebers papyrus from this time.

300 BC – A young Athenian maiden called Agnodike (or Hagnodike, which translates as ‘ Chaste in Justice’), wishing to resolve the problem, cut off her hair, dressed up as a man and went to Alexandria, in 300 BC, where she studied medicine and midwifery under Herophilus, a famous doctor. On her return to Athens, still disguised as a man, she set up a practice and in order to put her reluctant patients at their ease, would lift up her cloak and reveal her true sex

Biblical Times: The midwife is mentioned in the Book of Genesis, 35:17: “And when she (Rachel) was in her hard labor, the midwife said to her, ‘Fear not, for now you will have another son.'” The book of Exodus, 1:20 states, “Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.”
In ancient times and in primitive societies, the work of the midwife had both a technical or manual aspect and a magical or mystical aspect. Hence, the midwife was sometimes revered, sometimes feared, sometimes acknowledged as a leader of the society, sometimes tortured and killed. The midwife had knowledge and skill in an area of life that was a mystery to most people. Since women had no access to formal education, it was widely assumed that the midwife’s power must come from supernatural sources, such as an alliance with the devil. During the Middle Ages, a frenzy of witch-burning, promoted by both church and civic authorities, was responsible for the killing of up to several million women, many of whom were midwives and healers

Medieval times: women from one village to the next continued to tend the sick and care for women during labor and birth. Eventually, the ruling class and the Medieval Church sanctioned the new male medical profession of physicians, many of whom were priests, had little to no training, and exalted the persecution of lay healers and midwives. Many women were tortured and burned or hung as heretics or witches in an effort to suppress the competition. The transmission of knowledge from Grandmother to Mother to Daughter was interrupted during the burnings when children were coerced by authorities to report their family members as witches if they performed any healing practices.

1558: Forceps first used. Designed and kept private by Peter Chamberlen who charged high fees for his contraption and its use. An aid in a female population increasingly suffering from disease, inactivity, protracted pelvises and generally in poor health and malnutrition largely due to living and working in new urban, industrial environments. Lay midwives were excluded from possessing forceps or learning how to use them.

1560 – A law requiring midwives to be licensed was passed in Paris in 1560. Formal, state -supported education of midwives was started. Midwives studied in the most famous obstetric hospital in France, wrote books, and developed their apprenticeship system into a full-fledged midwifery education program.

1671: ‘The midwives Book’ written by Jane Sharpe, the first English midwifery text written by a woman.

1690: Justine Siegemund, a renowned German midwife creates book: Court Midwife which is the first female-authored German medical text.

Before 1750: births with male attendants were most frequently associated with emergencies. Then a smear campaign began against midwives by male medical professionals which eroded the public confidence in midwives. Medical doctors gradually extended their control by managing a woman’s entire pregnancy in general rather than just in cases of difficulty or emergency.

1750: Forceps and speculum were introduced into practice. The speculum enabled male doctors to circumvent the prohibition of touching female genital organs by men. In a more profound way the forceps represented intervention and manipulation of birth. These instruments greatly marginalized the midwife.

1765: Dr. William Shippen opened the first formal training for midwives in the US. Few women were literate, many could not afford schools, and the Puritan philosophy did not encourage education for women.

End of 1700’s: most people assumed that midwives had no formal training, even though some did, and common existing beliefs held that women were emotionally and intellectually incapable of learning and applying the new obstetric methods

1812: Medical Schools begin to proliferate

1816: René T. H. Laënnec introduced the first crude stethoscope; auscultation allowed the physician to penetrate behind the externally visible to “see” into the living. Doctors had previously observed patients; now they examined them.

1817: Dr. Thomas Ewell of Washington, D.C., proposed to establish a school for midwives connected with a hospital (such as in Europe) and sought federal funding. The funding was denied, and the school never came to be.

1770: upper-class women in American cities started to favor “male midwives,” or physicians. This was a status symbol for the aristocracy while lower class and rural women continued to be served by midwives.

Early 1800s: Birth became increasingly viewed as a medical problem to be managed by physicians. At the same time, because medical training was restricted to men, women lost their positions as assistants at childbirth. Birth began to move to lying-in hospitals. Puerperal (childbed) fever was at epidemic proportions during the 1800s. and Rickets and conditions of poverty lead to 1/200 pregnancies ending in maternal death in England and wales, with 2-8/100 pregnancies ending in maternal death in lying in hospitals.

1840s: Scottish Physician Aberdeen guesses that childbed fever was an infectious disease that spread from one woman to another. In Vienna, Ignaz Semmelweis realizes that mortality fate for women in the hospital division run by doctors and medical students was 3x the mortality rate in the unit run exclusively by midwives and nuns. Some women believed “doctor’s interference was the precursor of death”. Unlike male physicians, midwives tended to do 0 vaginal exams. Childbed fever perhaps first truly iatrogenic disease. Doctors recommend handwashing and are hounded for it by medical peers.

1847: Sir James Young Simpson of Edinburgh discovers anesthetic properties of chloroform. A boon to surgery, lessening patient shock. Considered but rejected as an aid in childbirth. Women believed to be bound by God to suffer when giving birth.

1848: The American Medical Association was founded to enforce standards on medicine as well as its practice.

1853: Sir James convinces Queen Victoria to use chloroform for the birth of her eighth child. Became popular thereafter and called “Anesthesie a la Reine”.

1860’s: Joseph Lister theorizes microorganisms cause infection and develops antiseptic technique, ending hospital reputation as house of death. Still, Childbed fever remain a major cause of maternal death, with 40% of American maternal deaths attributed to uterine fever.

1864: Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell opened a medical college for women in conjunction with the infirmary

1870: Listerian antisepsis, involving carbonic acid spray, was first introduced into obstetrics in Basel, Switzerland, paving the way for obstetric surgery

1873: Three training schools for nurses were established in New York. The professionalization of nursing furthered tendencies toward order and cleanliness.

1880: Adoption of antisepsis in most US and UK hospitals. A showdown regarding homeopathy, the American Medical Association no longer allowed physicians who were homeopaths to remain in orthodox societies.

1894: The first cesarean section was performed in Boston.

End of the 1800s: lying-in hospital gain better reputation. Advertised as safe and sterile, clean and civilized. The advent of antiseptic surgery sharply reduced the mortality from injuries and operations and increased the range of surgical work. Immigration was limited during and after World War I and thus reduced the supply both of foreign-trained midwives and the number of foreign-born women, the most loyal clientele of midwives. Physicians were becoming wealthier and being integrated into middle- and upper-class societies.
Prejudice against the intelligence and capability of women, immigrants, black people and poor people was used to defame midwifery.

1900: midwives attended almost 50% births, primarily those who could not afford otherwise. Only 5% of births take place in hospital. Midwives are not in a position of power; they made relatively little money, were not organized and did not see themselves as professionals.

1914: Twilight sleep introduced into US society. Dr. Eliza Taylor Ransom founds a maternity hospital in Boston and begins the New England Twilight Sleep Association to force hospitals to offer the procedure. Upper-class women formed “Twilight Sleep Societies.” Obstetric anesthesia became a symbol of the progress possible through medicine.

1915: The Association for the Study and Prevention of Infant Mortality published a paper in which Dr. Joseph DeLee described childbirth as a pathologic process. He believed that childbirth was not a normal function and that midwives had no place in childbirth. This pathological condition required a program of routine medical intervention. DeLee’s recommended interventions included anesthesia, episiotomy, and assisted (forceps) delivery, extraction of the placenta, medications for the uterus to contract and repair of the episiotomy. His article was published in the first issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. All of the interventions that DeLee prescribed did become routine.

1916: Margaret Sanger opens the first U.S. birth-control clinic in Brooklyn, N.Y. Although the clinic is shut down 10 days later and Sanger is arrested, she eventually wins support through the courts and opens another clinic in New York City in 1923.

1918: The Maternity Center Association of New York was founded to provide prenatal care in poor neighborhoods and education of mothers.

1920: public health nurses with the Frontier Nursing Service in the mountains of Kentucky and the Maternity Center Association in the medically underserved neighborhoods of New York City acquired additional training in midwifery to provide maternity services to women who were being ignored by the physicians and receiving inadequate maternity care. They called themselves nurse-midwives.

1921: 30%t to 50% of women gave birth in hospitals.

1925: Mary Breckenridge established the Frontier Nursing School as a demonstration project of complete family health care in a remote rural area, and directed it until her death in 1965
Meanwhile, in countries where midwives continue (to this day) to attend the majority of births, better outcomes are reported as well as lower maternal and infant morbidity and mortality.

1933: The White House Conference on Child Health and Protection issued a report stating that maternal mortality had not declined between 1915 and 1930, despite the increase in hospital delivery, the introduction of prenatal care and more use of aseptic techniques. The number of infant deaths from birth injuries actually increased by 40 percent to 50 percent from 1915 to 1929 for one of two reasons: either women received inadequate or no prenatal care or excessive intervention took place and was often improperly performed.

1935: 37% of births occur in hospitals. Midwives attend 12.5% of births. Midwives were portrayed as dirty, illiterate, and ignorant, and women were convinced that they were safer in the hands of doctors and hospitals. Posters were hung all over the public with wart-faced, hook-nosed, evil-witch-looking women with dirty hands and ragged clothing with a medical definition of a midwife: dirty, illiterate and ignorant.

1944: Grantly Dick-Read’s and Michel Odent’s book “Childbirth Without Fear” is first published, considered on of the initiators and aids of the natural birth movement.

Late 1940s: Childbirth Connection brought Grantly Dick-Read to speak to American women, telling women they could have babies without going through the horrors of twilight sleep. He advocated education to help cope with childbirth in natural ways.

1956: Grantly Dick-Read became the first president of the UK’s Natural Childbirth Trust (which later became the National Childbirth Trust), the foundation of which he inspired.

1958: an article headlined “Cruelty in Maternity Wards” ran in Ladies’ Home Journal, and described in detail the “tortures that go on in modern delivery rooms.” A flood of women sent the magazine their own horror stories. “I’ve seen patients with no skin on their wrists from fighting the straps,” a nurse from Canada wrote.

1950s: 85% births in hospitals. Nurse-midwives were well established in several medical institutions, and nurse-midwifery education was moving into institutions of higher learning and becoming standardized. Sister Mary Stella, CNM, introduced the concept of “family-centered maternity care.”

1955: a small group of nurse-midwives founded the American College of Nurse-Midwifery. Columbia-Presbyterian-Sloan Hospital in New York City became the first mainstream medical institution to open its doors to nurse-midwives.

1959: The Lamaze method gained popularity in the United States after Marjorie Karmel wrote about her experiences in the book Thank You, Dr. Lamaze.

1960: 97% births occur in hospitals. Delee’s interventions common in all American hospitals and women were unaware of any other way to give birth. Twilight sleep still widely used. In addition, women were forced to labor without presence or support from partners or family, infants were taken from the mother at delivery and cared for in newborn nurseries, bottlefeeding became the norm, and babies born outside the sterile environment of the operating room were labeled contaminated and kept separately.

1963: Betty Frieden publishes her highly influential book The Feminine Mystique, which describes the dissatisfaction felt by middle-class American housewives with the narrow role imposed on them by society. The book becomes a best-seller and galvanizes the modern women’s rights movement.

1968: American College of Nurse-Midwifery merges with American Association of Nurse-Midwives to become the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM).

1970: the proportion of out-of-hospital births almost doubled, although the overall number was small.

Early 1970s: women’s groups began learning gynecological self-care and encouraging a revival of lay midwifery and maintained that childbirth is not a disease and that normal deliveries do not require hospitalization and the supervision of an obstetrician. While no state forbade homebirth, ACOG actively discouraged it. Doctors who participated in homebirths by offering backups in emergencies were threatened with loss of hospital privileges and even their medical licenses.

1971: The Farm started in Tennessee by Stephen and Ina May Gaskin

1971: The Birth Center of Santa Cruz was started.

1972: The American Hospital Association adopted a Patient’s Bill of Rights.
A movement developed to “deinstitutionalize” the dependent and “demedicalize” critical life events, such as childbirth and dying. The interest in hospices and homebirths developed.

1975: the publication of Ina May Gaskin’s book, “Spiritual Midwifery,” spread the word that childbirth could be an experience of growth, empowerment, and joy. The Birth Collective at Freemont Women’s Clinic in Seattle began. Immaculate Deception by Suzanne Arms published.

1976: The Division of Nursing began to fund nurse-midwifery education programs. The Maternity Center of El Paso opened its doors.

1977: ACOG accuses midwives of “maternal trauma” and “child abuse”

1979: results of a large national study that found lingering behavior and motor deficits in children whose mothers had received anesthesia in large doses of analgesics, including Demerol. This press increased the interest in natural childbirth and boosted the homebirth and midwife movements. ACOG states that homebirth is not a reasonable or safe choice and cites research studies as proof, although those studies group unplanned homebirth with planned attended homebirth in looking at outcomes. Our Bodies, Our Selves is published by the Boston Women’s Health Collective.

Late 1970’s: Janet Balaskas is internationally renowned for pioneering the concept of ‘active birth’ including upright positions. Michel Odent introduces the concept of birthing pools in maternity hospitals and introduces the concept of home-like birthing room in maternity hospitals

1980: The ACNM developed guidelines for establishing “alternative” birthing services and dropped a negative homebirth statement (originally approved in 1971) in favor of a statement that endorsed practice in all settings. Rise of epidurals and electronic fetal monitoring in labor.

1981: With the publication of her historic ‘Active Birth Manifesto’ Janet Balaskas named and inspired the Active Birth Movement to campaign for women’s’ right to adopt upright positions during labour and birth.

1982: the Midwives’ Alliance of North America (MANA) was founded, called together by Sister Angela Murdaugh. The organization embraces all midwives, regardless of training or credentials. The midwives represented by MANA have steadfastly insisted on autonomy and control over their practice, and differentiation of the midwifery model of care from the medical model.
Northern New Mexico Midwifery Center opens in Taos, New Mexico under direction of Elizabeth Gillmore.

1983: The National Association of Childbearing Centers was established.

1985: Casa De Nacimiento begun by Lynn Arnold.

Late 1980s: Congress enacted legislation to make Medicaid available to more women and also required states to make Medicaid-eligible women’s access to obstetric care equal to that of other women. Also, most states began to pay more for maternity care. Physicians who were once disinterested in taking care of poor, pregnant women became more willing to do so as Medicaid increased fees paid for services and made it easier to obtain these fees. Women had more trouble accessing midwifery care as healthcare options might exclude it.

1987: Heart and Hands, by Elizabeth Davis published. Birth of Maternidad La Luz with Deborah Kaley.

1989: Glady’s Milton asked to give up midwifery license in Florida but her fans rallied and she kept her license.

1990: Midwifery reintroduced as a regulated profession in Canada.

1992: Midwives Alliance of Alaska successful in creating a separate board of midwifery allowing direct entry midwifery to practice in homes and independently run birth centers. Birth as an American Rite of Passage by Robbie Davis-Floyd. A study of birth outcomes at the Farm vs. hospital shows that “under certain circumstances homebirths attended by lay midwives can be accomplished as safely as, and with less intervention than, physician attended hospital deliveries” (Durand).

1993: The first randomized, controlled trial to observe the effects of epidural anesthesia was published. The investigators stopped the study after they analyzed the data from the first group and saw the high rate of cesarean section. They determined it would not be ethical to continue the study and reported their findings. Navajo grand midwife Faye Knoki honored with MANA’s Sage Femme Award.

1994: The North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) offered its first written examination to test the knowledge needed for safe, beginning-level, direct-entry midwifery practice to implement a process to certify direct-entry midwives. It expanded the process to include entry-level midwives in 1996.

1995: The number of jurisdictions that grant prescriptive authority to CNMs increased to 31 in 1995 from 14 in 1984.Federal law required all state Medicaid programs to pay for care provided by CNMs. . Holistic Midwifery by Anne Frye first published.

1996: Citizens for Midwifery established: a non-profit, volunteer, grassroots organization. Founded by several mothers it is the only national consumer-based group promoting the Midwives Model of Care.

1998: Birthing From Within published –Pam England & Rob Horowitz

1999: Varney’s Midwifery, by Helen Varney Burst, first nurse-midwifery, midwifery textbook. Birth Into Being: The Russian Waterbirth Experience, video produced by Barbara Harper, brings new interest in water birth.

2005: Certified Professional Midwives become legal in Virginia.

2007: Rates of medical intervention in childbirth in the U.S. found that 93% of mothers used electronic fetal monitoring; 63% used epidurals; 55% had their membranes ruptured; 53% received oxytocin to stimulate labor progress; and 52% received episiotomies. The Business of Being Born by Rikki Lake comes out highlighting hospital intervention and profit system, natural alternatives and the life of the midwife.

2009: The United States provides the world’s most expensive maternity care but has worse pregnancy outcomes than almost every other industrialized country. According to The Times: “About 99% of all births in the U.S. take place in hospitals, yet we rank 29th in the world in infant mortality — below Hungary and tied with Slovakia and Poland — with 6.71 deaths per 1,000 live births. That compares to a rate of about 3.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in Far Eastern and Scandinavian countries such as Singapore, Japan, Norway and Sweden”. MANA sends their recommendations regarding midwifery and a possible new health care system to Obama.

Today: A midwife is defined by some as: a person who, having been regularly admitted to a midwifery educational program that is duly recognized in the country in which it is located, has successfully completed the prescribed course of studies in midwifery and has acquired the requisite qualifications to be registered and/or legally licensed to practice midwifery. Yet, licensing standards, where they exist, vary from state to state, and there are no mandatory national standards for entry into practice, with only 25 states declaring CPM’s legal. CPM’s are deemed Illegal in: Alabama, Connecticut, North Carolina, Kentucky, Deleware, Washington, DC, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, West Virginia.

The national average of babies born into the hands of a midwife is 7.4% and growing, in some states it is as high as 20%. Still, this rate is very low compared to that in European countries which have the best birth outcomes. Home birth continues to gain popularity and recognition with celebrity participation and promotion including. Many religious sects continue to solely receive midwifery care in the home such as Mennonites and Amish. Midwives are still being arrested. “Obama Care” may support the development of health coverage for more clients to attended by midwives at birth centers. Many midwives are still prohibited from carrying controlled substances like pitocin and oxygen.

Now accepting New Doula Clients!

IMGP3389  After taking a precious mothering hiatus, I am now ready to step back into the birth world.  My focus in the meantime has changed I bit.  I now wish to focus my energy, attention and massaging hands on serving clients as an Intrapartum(Birth) and Postpartum Doula.

Please feel free to contact me at anytime if you are looking for home or hospital doula care and live in the NRV area.  I limit my intrapartum doula client numbers to two a month to ensure that each mother gets the care she needs, and to do my best to avoid labors occurring in the same time period (it does happen!).  Although I am a midwife, I do not provide medical care or diagnosis in the doula role.  Instead, I supplement the medical care you receive from your primary provider-whether he/she is a Physician, Nurse Midwife or Home Birth Midwife.  I specialize in providing lots of information, good listening, birth plan preparation, childbirth preparation, massage, aromatherapy, family bonding opportunities, comfort measures, VBAC support, diplomacy with medical providers and holistic postpartum care.

Please peruse my website if you are interested in my services.  You will see how my training as a midwife helps me support laboring mothers, body, mind and spirit.   Of interest, although I trained in a busy birth center and planned for a homebirth, I gave birth in the hospital when my son came at 35.5 weeks.  Due to suspected prematurity, homebirth was decided to be too risky.   I had a good experience birthing my son and plenty of support.  I recognize in the core of my being that a mother that feels empowered, loved, seen, and safe as she births, will walk away from her birth strengthened.  My job as a labor attendant is to facilitate the environment and human connect that a mama needs for her own unfolding, whether she chooses to birth at home or in the hospital, and especially in the case of unforeseen changes!

Birth and parenthood can take many forms: I honor each family in their uniqueness during this sacred transition of bringing new life into the world.

Please contact me if you would like to meet for a free interview, in which we can discuss your desires and feelings about your upcoming birth and what I can offer you as your doula.

Kind Regards

Tara Daystar, CPM


Keeping adrenaline in the birth room low

Knitting Midwives for Drugless Childbirth

I cannot forget the time when a woman could give birth in a small, dimly lit room with nobody around but an experienced and silent midwife, sitting in a corner and knitting. The situation was obviously conducive to easy births (Odent 1996).

It is fruitful to reinterpret such a scene in the scientific context of the twenty-first century. At the April 2004 British Psychological Society conference, Dr. Emily Holmes from Cambridge University presented her studies on the effects of repetitive tasks, such as knitting, in stressful situations. In one study, volunteers were recruited to watch video footage of real car crashes showing dead bodies and a lot of blood. Some participants were given a repetitive task, such as tapping out a complex five-key sequence of numbers on a keypad, to do while they watched. Those who were given such a task experienced fewer flashbacks during the following days than the others. The author concludes from Dr. Holmes’ studies that repetitive tasks are an extremely effective means of reducing tension. Dr. Holmes emphasized that her research was consistent with the actions of notorious French tricoteuses of the French Revolution, such as Madame Defarges, who knitted while watching people being guillotined, apparently never experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder. She also referred to the use of worry beads in many cultures, such as Greece, as a way to cope with stressful situations.

We might translate such findings into physiological language and conclude that when midwives spend hours and hours knitting, their own levels of adrenaline are kept as low as possible. Since high levels of adrenaline are extremely contagious, the progress of labor is to a great extent dependent on the adrenaline levels of those around the laboring woman.

Such considerations are of paramount importance at a time when we must learn to think long-term and to think in terms of civilization. The aim of any futuristic birth strategy should be that as many women as possible give birth vaginally, thanks to an undisturbed flow of love hormones. The future of our civilizations is at stake.

The essential first step is to improve our understanding of birth physiology and to rediscover the basic needs of women in labor. These basic needs are shared by all mammals. All mammals need to feel secure when giving birth: They postpone the delivery if there is a predator around. All mammals need privacy: They have strategies for avoiding observation during the period surrounding birth. After thousands of years of culturally controlled childbirth, decades of industrialized childbirth and a proliferation of methods of natural childbirth (as if the words method and natural were compatible), these basic needs have been forgotten.


— Michel Odent

Our Son Arrives!

We are so blessed  to welcome  Rowan Grove Katznelson into our lives!  He was born in late May and has been a light and joy, a teacher and a love ever since.  We are currently occupied with the important task of new parenthood.  My respect to all parents, new and old!

To honor this important time of bonding and breastfeeding, I will not be taking Doula clients until Spring of 2013.  Thank you for understanding and as always, I am happy to refer you to other trusted birth workers.


Update about Doula & Midwifery Care

Hello all!

I am happy to announce that my husband and I are expecting a little one in our lives this June/July!   In preperation for this life change, I have decided to limit my services for the next year.

I will not be offering midwifery services, but, instead, will be focusing on providing Doula care and creating the volunteer doula service that I dream of.

I am also working on a set of prenatal education classes in the Floyd area, and, possibly, Blacksburg and Roanoke area, geared especially toward women interested in or choosing a home birth.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in prenatal classes, Doula Care in hospital or homebirth, or breastfeeding support.  If you are looking for a midwife, I can happily refer you.

Many Thanks

Tara Daystar, BA, CPM

“There is power that comes to women when they give birth. They don’t ask for it, it simply invades them. Accumulates like clouds on the horizon and passes through, carrying the child with it.”   ~Sheryl Feldman

The Beginnings

Welcome to Ancient Roots Midwifery.  My name is Tara Daystar, and I am a Certified Professional Midwife serving families in Floyd, VA and surrounding counties.  I feel fortunate to be practicing during a period known as the “Midwifery Renaissance”.  Individuals, birth professionals and major media are re-discovering the role midwives play in providing safe, family-centered, affordable care.  Parents, in all birth environments, are learning to engage for better care for themselves and their babies.

Home-birth has a long history in Floyd and indeed, the entire world..  Orlene Puckett, known as the Mountain Midwife, is perhaps the most famous local midwife.  In the 1800’s, she helped birth 1,000 babies in the Floyd, Patrick and Carroll County areas and is well remembered for it.  In ancient times, midwives appear to be the single source of skilled maternity care.  Papyrus from ancient Egypt and the Bible both mention midwives with honor and emphasize their integral role in serving their communities.

In modern times, midwives are known for their struggles to pass midwifery legislation, improve infant and family welfare through holistic care, breastfeeding and postpartum mentorship, and protect mothers’ rights to informed choice and evidence based care, regardless of place of birth.  The work of consumer advocates, midwives and supportive obstetricians has been essential in protecting a woman’s right to birth choice.  Midwifery  is now experiencing a rebirth in America, with increases in homebirth by 20%. United States Home Births Increase 20% from 2004-2008r

One factor encouraging the growth of midwifery and home births, has been the influx of scientific studies revealing planned, attended homebirth to be as safe, if not safer than hospital birth for low risk women.  Previous studies had counted unplanned, accidental out-of-hospital births as ‘homebirths’ even though they were not midwife attended and may even have been pregnancies too risky to qualify for a home birth.  As support for midwives has increased among consumers, doctors, governments, educators and human rights groups, new studies are being initiated to improve women’s access to and choice in midwifery and homebirth care.  Along with other midwives, I envision a future of cooperation between all medical professionals so that we may give optimal, client centered care.  In accord with this vision, I draw upon the services and wisdom of local herbalists, acupuncturists, chiropractors as well as allopathic medicine practitioners and other midwives to ensure that each client has optimal care and choice in her pregnancy.

Outcomes of planned home births with certified professional midwives: large prospective study in North America

My own home birth

My own history of childbirth begins with my mother, who decided to have four homebirths in the 80’s, disregarding current VA law to make it happen. She believed that homebirth would be the most gentle, humane and safest way to welcome her children into the world.  I grew up hearing my own beautiful birth story with all its glorious details, including my parents’ chant of  “I Love You” just before I was born.  Later in life, I have had the opportunity to meet mothers with very different birth stories to share, whether that be trauma they still experienced from twilight sleep in the 50’s to recent experiences in the hospital or at a homebirth.  What I learned from listening to women, is that pregnancy, birth and the postpartum is a vulnerable and powerful time that deserves our full respect and reverence.  Midwifery came naturally as a way to support women in their choices and desire to protect their babies and themselves.  I see gentle, natural birth as an empowering experience that can have significant impact on our society and those we love.  Women actualizing their creative power and strength are creating space in a world for men, women and children to also experience and nourish their own healing growth.  I believe our future will be blessed by the works of women in their power and wisdom and children, born into this world surrounded by an atmosphere of love and trust.