You've likely got a few questions for us. This is a good place to begin, offering you a solid overview of our services and the experience of community-based birth. When you're ready, we encourage you to take the next step and book an initial free consultation with us. This is the best way to discover if a community-based birth with our midwife team is the right choice for you.
Naomi O’Callahan, MSM, LM, CPM & Serenity Quiggle, MSM, LM
A community-based birth is one that takes place in a home setting or a free-standing birth center.
A free standing birth center is a facility, not associated with a hospital, that is managed by Midwives and based off of the Midwifery Model of Care where people give birth. Freestanding birth centers cater to low risk, healthy people who wish to have an unmedicated natural birth. It’s basically a home birth in someone else’s home.
The American Public Health Association has adopted Guidelines for Licensing and Regulating Birth Centers which states that a birth center is: “Any health facility, place or institution which is not a hospital or in a hospital and where births are planned to occur away from the mother's residence following normal, uncomplicated pregnancy”
Freestanding Birth Center
Whom they serve: Low risk healthy people
Philosophy of care: Based off of the Midwifery Model of Care
Type of birth: Supports uninterrupted, physiological natural birth
Pain relief: Women-led intuitive positioning, large birth tubs and showers, nitrous oxide
Cared for by: Licensed Midwives, Birth Assistants, Student Midwives
Surgical birth (vaccuum, forceps, cesarean): No
Hospital-based “Birth Center”
Whom they serve: Low and high risk people
Philosophy of care: Based off of the medical model of care
Type of birth: Supports medicalized birth for high risk people
Pain relief: Pharmacological methods (epidural, pain meds)
Cared for by: Nurses, Certified Nurse Midwives, Doctors
Surgical birth (vaccuum, forceps, cesarean): Yes
People who are generally healthy and who are seeking an unmedicated natural birth in the home or birth center setting.
VCM partners with Quest Diagnostics and Legacy Laboratory for lab services. For ultrasounds, we can send a referral to Legacy Imaging, Peace Health South West or Vancouver Radiology for diagnostic imaging.
If you can make a baby in the space, you can have a baby in the space. We require that there is electricity, running water, the space is sanitary and that there is a heat source in the winter.
For home birth, VCM offers inflatable tubs and all of the fixins. We will provide you with the inflatable tub close to your due date. After the birth, we drain the tub with a sump pump, break it down and take it away. The Bridge Birth Center has permanent tubs in each of its birth suites.
No, generally it is not very messy. If it does get messy, then our team cleans up, leaving you to snuggle in with your new little one.
Generally speaking, home and birth-center are as safe as hospitals for low-risk, healthy people.
Birth safety begins long before the actual birth. Eating a clean diet, moving your body meaningfully, managing stress in healthy ways, coming to all of your prenatal appointments and preparing for childbirth and parenting mindfully are ways that you can stay healthy and safe. VCM midwives will monitor your health and be doing risk assessments at every visit to make sure that you stay healthy and low-risk.
The largest study of planned, midwife-attended home birth suggests that birth in a community setting (home or birth center) is safe for low-risk birthing parents who are attended by a skilled provider.
Outcomes of the study included...
- Most families who plan a community birth have a community birth (89.1%)
- Most families who plan a community birth have a vaginal birth (93.6%)
- Most families planning a community birth are exclusively breastfeeding at 6 weeks (97.7%)
- The primary reason for transfer of care in labor is an arrest of labor progress, and urgent transports for fetal distress are rare.
- About 5.2% of parents planning a community birth ultimately give birth by cesarean in a hospital.
A recent study of planned community-based birth in Washington state found that rates of adverse outcomes with well-established and integrated community midwifery were overall low.
If at anytime during your care with us a complication arises, we consult with a higher level provider and transfer care. We are not “home/birth center birth or bust”, we are “empowered birth or bust”. Safety is our number 1 priority.
Prenatal complications: When complications develop during the prenatal period, we would consult with the CNM group at The Vancouver Clinic to see if we could do a direct midwife-to-midwife transfer of care. If the condition is more complex and needs to be managed by a physician, then we would consult with Legacy Maternal Fetal Medicine and transfer care.
Labor complications: When complications develop during labor, or if the laboring person needs pain management, we would consult with the CNM group at The Vancouver Clinic to see if we could do a direct midwife-to-midwife transfer of care. If the condition is more complex and needs to be managed by a physician, then we would consult with Legacy Salmon Creek/Peace Health Southwest OB Hospitalist and transfer care.
Postpartum/Newborn complications: When complications develop during the postpartum/newborn period, we would consult a Pediatric/OB Hospitalist and transfer care.
Since its' inception, VCM has worked to build bridges between community midwives and the medical community. We have helped successfully launch the Smooth Transitions program at Legacy Salmon Creek and Peace Health Southwest. Smooth Transitions is a quality improvement program designed to help facilitate transfers during labor to improve outcomes. We worked hand in hand with the The Vancouver Clinic Certified Nurse Midwife Group to create a protocol to facilitate direct midwife-to-midwife transfers.
In case of an emergency, we carry:
- Antihemorrhagic medications (Pitocin, Misoprostol, Methergine, TXA)
- Magnesium Sulfate
We are also trained in CPR and Neonatal resuscitation.
Sure, as long as they are COVID symptom-free and masked, they are welcomed. Even in a pandemic, we believe that birth is a natural, family centered event and laboring people need their tribe there to support them.
Yes. VCM believes the best way to learn midwifery is through witnessing it. A skilled and capable student will often accompany one or both midwives as they hone their craft and continue the ancient legacy of midwives in our community and beyond.