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Midewife & Birthing Center Recommendations?

uMamas - we have another request for your input, suggestions.  Please post them here!

It sounds like some of you have had homebirths and I was wondering if I could get some referrals for midwives.  I had 2 out-of-hospital births (1st at a Birth Center and 2nd at home – same midwife) in the SF Bay Area and don’t really know anyone in the birth community here.  I have a friend who is about 11 weeks pregnant with her 2nd; her 1st is already 5 ½.  She’s struggling with A LOT of vomiting and nausea, so I want to help her out by doing some homework on her behalf.  Her 1st birth was in a hospital, but she’s open to the idea of a homebirth.  She’s also concerned about their financial situation – she doesn’t have any insurance and is not sure that she will qualify for OHP.  Their income is low enough but they have money in the bank from her partner’s inheritance, which they were planning to sink into a new house.  Of course, the idea of buying a new house at the moment is a bit overwhelming.  Anyway…I’d love to hear about some midwives or Birth Centers that you’ve had experience with.  Please feel free to be as detailed as you like – why you liked her, anything you didn’t like, etc. (I love birth stories!)  And I’d really love to hear from anyone who had a hospital birth 1st and then chose to have a homebirth next.  I don’t feel totally qualified to speak about that since I’ve never actually been to a hospital birth.  If you have any advice or experience with the financial challenge, I’d love to hear about that as well.  I know my midwife worked out a trade agreement with us, so if you know anyone who is open to that, let me know.  Thanks for the opportunity to take advantage of this great community!


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I had my first (and only, so far) baby at home 20 months ago. It was a great experience. I really loved my midwives, Rhonda Ray and Marilyn Milestone. Rhonda is no longer practicing and Marilyn has a new partner, Beth Sagli, who I've heard is also wonderful. They are located on SE Division. Good luck to your friend!

I birthed my baby 5 months ago at Alma Midwifery Birth Center on SE 16th and Ankeny. I loved them! The midwives also follow up with you for 6 weeks after your birth and their is a mothering group that she and her nursling could join later. They really are amazing! I had a lot of fear around birth and they were absolutely amazing. I can't recommend them enough. You can check them out at www.almamidwifery.com

Portland is the best place to homebirth! Many many gifted midwives in our area, very progressive.

I Love Ellie LeGare at http://www.rightathomemidwifery.com/, she delivered my last baby.

I adore Kate McLachlan at http://www.bellyfruit.net/bellyfruit.html who also delivered my last baby and is equally amazing.

I just had a friend who had a great VBAC with Alma as well.

Happy Homebirthing!

I had 2 amazing and spiritual homebirth experiences with Madrona Bordeau...I couldn't say enough about her. Her practice is called "A Woman's Point of View"; I would recommend your friend interview her and see if it's a good fit. What a cool thing to do for your friend!

I've never seen/had a hospital birth, but we had our baby girl (and will be having our next, who I'm 12 wks pregnant with) at Andaluz Waterbirth Center, in Tualatin. The midwives there are all fantastic, and do homebirths as well. Also, OHP open card covered our birth there 100% after we finally got set up with them. Before we were able to get set up with OHP, however, they were awesome about letting us set up a payment plan (only $25 minimum payment each month!). Everyone who works there is helpful, understanding, and compassionate. I just can't say enough good things about our experience there! Feel free to email me with any questions.

Oh, they also have a website, http://www.waterbirth.net/

Hope this helps!

Pregnant women are eligible for the Oregon Health Plan with income up to 185% of the federal poverty level ($2,481 for a family of three). Your friend can go to www.oregonhelps.org to find out if she qualifies for OHP. It has a worksheet-style web-page to work through it.

(this doesn't help with the homebirth part, but if she qualifies it would be nice to have insurance for herself and her child)

We had a powerful homebirth experience with Madrona Bordeau as well. I highly recomend her. For me she was the perfect balance of a loving mother figure and a strong woman who could push me when I needed it. Our little guy was stubbornly tilting his head to one side and not decending, my body got all the way to 9cm and then backed up to 6 (I think so that he didn't decend and get stuck) so I went through transistion twice and had some intense moments of giving up but Madrona coached me through it wonderfully, leaving me feeling empowered and able. We got his head tilted the right way and were able to birth at home. Also she has been catching babies for 28 years, so she knows her way around.

We also did the OHP thing. If you want to be able to do a home birth OHP will cover it as long as you have an open card. To get an open card you have to establish a "routine of care" (basically see your midwife for a certain number of visits). If I remember right you have to wait until you are 28wks pregnant to apply, otherwise they just assign you to someone. We had to put down a small deposit to cover visits until we qualified. We were suprised that we were able to qualify so your friend should definately check it out. I think that Madrona also does the bartering thing if OHP doesn't work out.

I second alma midwifery. We had an great team there with laura, melissa, and laurie. They were great. I too was sick, diagnosied with hyperemisas (sp) and my alma team helped me with anything and everything. Although my insurance finally covered the birth, I know that alma does accept OHP, and Kate there insurance person is totally fab! She helped me so much to take care of the money aspect. Good Luck in your search!!!!

We had a wonderful experience with Nora Tallman and Catherine Schaefer. Their website is www.agentlebeginning.com. They are both Naturopaths and CNMs and have each been practicing for 25 years plus, together for about 10. Our son was big and had shoulder dsytocia - his shoulders got stuck after his head came out. These women were brilliant! Totally calm, soothing and professional. They knew exactly what they were doing and delivered him safely, with no injuries which are common with this complication. C-section is not an option once a baby's head comes out, so the techniques they used at home were the same as an OB or hospital midwife would have used, minus the panic. From what I understand, gauging a baby's size in utero is tricky; studies have shown that the mother tends to be the most accurate. My weight gain was minimal (23 lbs) and I tested negative for gestational diabetes, so we didn't think he'd be more than 8-9 lbs. He was 10+! This is mostly to say that I had a very graceful and successful homebirth with these women, with complications that they knew how to handle. I have no question they would have transferred to the hospital appropriately if it had been called for.

My first birth was in the hospital (the OHSU midwives were awesome!!), though we transferred after working with other midwives at home. My baby was in a very challenging position. In this case, I didn't feel comfortable with my midwives at home; they were passive and very hands-off. After 2 1/2 days of labor, we went to the hospital and had a great birth. BTW, Linda Glenn, who is a nurse midwife at OHSU also does homebirths. She is a fantastic midwife, I understand.

For me, homebirth feels like the most natural choice. At the same time, having had tricky labors with both my sons, I feel strongly about being with midwives who completely know what they're doing and have tons of experience behind them - and who are comfortable in both hospital and home settings. Good luck to your friend!

We also had a lovely experience with Catherine and Nora of A Gentle Beginning. They attended my son's birth at home and saw me through an EXTREMELY long labor. We hired them again during my second pregnancy, but ended up having to deliver by Cesarean at Providence St. Vincent due to placenta previa. I remain a big fan of home birth. Catherine and Nora truly are gentle, but also strong for you when the going gets tough. They were also a great help to me when I was admitted to Providence and learned that a hospital birth was inevitable. Nora helped me to sort out the information I was getting from doctors I did not know or trust.

We are on Kaiser, which does not cover home birth services at all, but just decided to bite the bullet and invest in the extra cost. It ended up being about $3000 for the first birth, which seems to be very reasonable in this market. Nora and Catherine were pretty flexible about payment terms. My daughter was delivered after we had paid in full and had a few prenatal visits; they provided us with a generous refund based on a modest hourly rate, and offered some in-home follow-up.

I also appreciated Nora and Catherine's willingness to schedule prenatal visits at our home, at the weird times that were most convenient for our family.

We used Susan Moray and Carrie Parrish at Northwest Community Midwives for Mila's home birth and are using Susan and Celeste Kersey for the baby joining us in November (Carrie is no longer practicing in Portland) - 503-230-2831

We have also heard a lot of wonderful things from friends about Heather Hack at RoseHip Midwifery - 503-504-0885. She has her office in our building at Milagros.

Most midwives will provide a complimentary interview to give you a chance to get questions answered and see if you "click" with the midwife. Taking advantage of these prescreening opportunities is really a must.

I had a baby in February and Madrona Bordreaux and Maryl Smith were the midwives (I see someone else posted the link above). I heard Maryl is taking a sabbatical, so she's not available, but Madrona was wonderful. I love that lady. My baby was born in Feb 2006 - 13 pounds 3 ounces, posterior. Send me an e-mail at homejewel at gmail dot com and I will send you a link for the birth story with pics.

Oh, this was my 2nd homebirth. I had 5 previous hospital births.

Ooops - I guess the link wasn't posted: http://www.mydwyf.com/

I have had both my children at home with Jen Gibbons and Liz Collins from the Natural Childbirth and Family Center. They have a birthing center and attend home births. Both births were amazing. They are there to guide you not control the experience. My second birth was practically ran by us and simply attended by them when they were needed for the end. Liz is my main caretaker, but I would strongly recommend them both. They are natureopaths and midwife certified, so they can continue with well baby care too if you like. They are located a little far out in NE. (on 102nd and Halsey, but really not far and definitely worth the drive). They know and love our family, and truly feel like they know us well.

We had our son at home with Beth and Marilyn at Helping Hands Midwifery. We were extremely pleased with their care throughout our pregnancy and - even though Beth was on vacation when I went into labor, their back up person (Rhonda) was a natural and easy fit- we didn't even notice that she had come into the house and we had a big, loud dog. They often have interns from Birthingway, so it's definitely worthwhile to interview. The midwifery field is also not competetive the same way that doctors are. Midwives will never pressure you to go with one group or the other. We really believed in our midwives, but if for some reason we wanted to interview others next time, I know that they would be supportive.

We had both of our daughters at home, two peak experiences in my life. Our second daughter weighed 12 lbs. 4 oz. (unexpectedly; no gestational diabetes, 25 lb. weight gain). Marilyn Milestone and Ronda Ray at Helping Hands took care of us. They were profoundly present in a way that few people can ever be for each other, and I am so grateful for their experience, wisdom, and willingness to bring all they knew to help me birth my baby. (She is strong and healthy, though she was stuck for a while; I had some tearing but less than with my first). I live near the clinic and whenever I see Marilyn in passing, I still get tearful, remembering her giving my baby her first breaths of life.

My daughter was born at the Alma birth center with Kori and Corrine. We really loved the whole experience and would definitely recommend Alma!

I had a difficult time choosing a midwife. I found it overwhelming to choose someone that would play such a giant role in my first pregnancy and birth based on a one hour consultation. So my husband and I were 9 weeks pregnant by the time we chose Marilyn Milestone and Beth Sagli. We loved Marilyn's EarthMama energy and Beth's straightforward way of communicating. What I most appreciated about them, though, after meeting with so many midwives, was how truly genuine this pair is. I am so, so glad we chose them. At nearly 10 weeks, I miscarried. Though we had just received the paperwork for our first PreNatal and had not yet paid them a dime, Marilyn talked me through the whole day. She set up an ultrasound for us at the Natural Childbirth and Family Clinic, where the miscarriage was confirmed. The next morning, Marilyn called and left me a message, just checking in and letting me know we were in her thoughts. I will never forget how she helped us through that difficult day. We hope to conceive again soon, when we feel ready again, and we will definitely be calling Marilyn and Beth.

I have to say I would recommend steering clear of Alma. Most of the women who work there are fantastic, but the owner, Laura, can be a bit shall we say "difficult." And if she decides she doesn't like you anymore, she'll ruin the whole thing, even if you love the midwives you are personally working with. She will gripe at you for needing too much attention for complications, blame your "negative thoughts" for causing said complications, and even drop you for non-medical reasons in your third trimester--no referral, no appropriate transfer of care--and then send you a big fat bill.

There are so many other great homebirth practices in Portland, don't bother with this one. Try Andaluz if you want a birth center, otherwise Nest for homebirths.

Don't bother with Andaluz. The level of care they provide, you would be better off at home - seriously. The prenatal care is like going to tea with a stranger. It's difficult to get them onto the subject of the pregnancy, it's all fluff and nonsense. While I agree that clinicians often give you somewhat of the bum's rush out the door, at Andaluz we were the ones looking at the clock and saying "um we actually have to get back to work..."

I asked the midwives at Andaluz what qualifies their trainees to move into being full midwives. Apparently, it's really "just when they feel ready".... well it's like the blind leading the blind over there.

Worst of all, though, the midwives recklessly endangered my life and my baby's life and added virtually no value to the experience. They were completely stumped as to why my labor wasn't progressing after over 48 hours of labor and were adamant about not transferring me, much to my detriment. I ended up being so dehydrated that it became life threatening and finally had to demand that I was transferred, for which the only option given was to ride in the back of my husband's care with a chux pad and try not to tear the stuffing out of the seats as I had contractions.

Avoid, Avoid, Avoid.. Don't risk your life and your babies life with these birth cowboys. Yes, anyone can deliver a baby. Do you want "anyone" delivering yours?

In another post on this site, Jennifer (the owner of Andaluz) accused the medical community of slandering midwives. I have no problem with midwives who are competent. I have a problem with the negligence and arrogance of the midwives at Andaluz.

My experience with Andaluz was almost identical to Tassiegirl's. All fluff and no substance. I was stuck at 7cm dilation for a full 48 hours with excruciating back labor and all the midwives would tell me is "do whatever feels good to you..." No guidance, direction, power, or support during what ended up being a 60-hr+ labor (that ended at the hospital after no recommendations or hope for solutions from the Andaluz midwives). We transferred to Legacy Emanuel and the midwives there are AWESOME - working together with me to try new positions and solutions that would keep labor productive and avoid a c-section (which they did, thankfully)!! I'm now pregnant with #2 and will not be headed to Andaluz!

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