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Certified Nurse Midwives in Portland


I know lots of urbanMamas have given birth with midwives, either at home, in the hospital, or at a birthing center, and we've given our feedback on certified nurse midwives before. Jess Bee asks for more of your advice:

I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for Certified Nurse Midwives at a Birthing Center in Portland. My insurance company will only cover this kind of midwife. The only one I have found so far is Michelle at Alma. Anyone have experience with her or anyone else?


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There is a CNM clinic associated with Legacy Emanuel & one with Legacy Good Sam Family Birth Centers.

There is a group of CNM's associated with Providence that you can check out. Not sure about their services but they seemed nice when we visited them. I actually had my baby at Alma before they had a CNM there and it turned out to be problematic since my insurance company (ODS) never made it clear they would only cover a CNM and not a CPM. I am still battling with them (even to get just the birth center facility fee covered!). Anyhow, my word of advice to anyone using a midwife in the area (CPM or CNM) is to get in WRITING from your insurance company that they will cover the fees associated with whomever you choose, before you are too far along with anyone in particular. Make them be specific because we were told everything was covered on the phone and now in my appeals I am being told that information communicated in phone calls (even if it is stated by a Customer Service Rep as a covered service) is not a basis for coverage. Ugh (and on a side note if this sounds familiar to anyone and you had success fighting your insurance company to get coverage, perhaps you can post something in that appropriate spot on the blog for me). Good luck to you!

i just have to chime in and say that alma is fantastic and i had our youngest with pamela and kate from alma. our ins. wasn't going to cover any part of their $5,000 fee at the time (this covered all prenatal, birth and postnatal as well as anything that fell within 2 months of the birth with me and the baby). after all was said and done and ivy was born (ten and a half pounds!) and it was confirmed that she was a healthy baby, they submitted our claim for alma's fees to our ins. company. in the end, our ins. company paid for it ALL and never said "boo" about it. in hinds sight, i would do it all over again even if ins. would never pay.

Nora Tallman and her business partner, Katherine (I don't remember her last name) are both CNM's AND naturopaths who do home births. Their business name is A Gentle Beginning and I can't recommend them enough. They were absolutely wonderful through my pregnancy and then helped me through a most amazing and empowering birth.

I gave birth in the birthing tub with the midwives at OHSU... I was told that one of their CNM's, Linda Glenn, also does home births, or at least works with a birthing center... So you could do all your prenatal at the hospital and give birth at home! Just another option. I also recommend the doulas at mothertreebirth.com Have a great birth experience!

we had a great experience with vivante midwifery; one of their midwives, linda glenn, is a CNM, which is why our insurance (regence blue cross) covered them. I highly recommend them!

Echoing rae--we used Alma and our insurance also required a CNM, and they included one in our birthing team. Her name is Michelle, and she was great. I'd recommend Alma and Laura, Debbie and Michelle to anyone.

I had Noah through the Maternal Care Clinic (Providence). They were fabulous as was our stay with Providence. Providence has great personal care. There are nine midwives and you meet and get to know all of them throughout your pregnancy and then whoever is on call when you go into labor is your midwife. I know several people who had there babies with them and they all had positive things to say.

I also had a GREAT experience with the Portland Maternal Care Clinic. Every mid-wife I met with was wonderful. I had my favorite (Linda) end up delivering my little one, although I felt like any of them would've done a great job. They didn't pressure anything and just let my body do it's job. I delivered at Providence Portland and didn't have time to use the birth tubs or anything. It was 4 hours start to delivery! Wowza!!! Anywho, for it not being a typical "birthing center" it WAS 100% covered and it was exactly what I wanted. I'm so glad I moved here from the Mid-West....I wouldn't have gotten this kind of experience there.....

Just FYI, you cannot actually see Linda Glenn through OHSU and then deliver at home with her through Vivante - I had that exact idea (OHSU falls into my coverage) - but Vivante won't do it. Hover, I saw Linda for the first part of my pregnancy at OHSU, and I think the midwife program there is terrific.

I am now switching to Michelle at Alma, and just eating the extra cost (for a home birth, about a thousand dollars in my case).

I second Nora and Catherine from A Gentle Beginning. A great mix of the spiritual and the practical, of the medical and the natural. We were doing a home birth with them, but I am pretty sure that a woman in our class delivered with them at a birthing center. I ended up in the hospital due to pre-eclampsia, but kept them as doulas.

Linda from Providence Maternal Care also delivered my youngest baby. For whatever scheduling reasons, the first appointment I had with Linda was at 41 weeks, when my baby decided to turn fully breech and I had to be induced. Linda was really great throughout the whole thing, and I was completely comfortable with her.

This was my third baby, all of whom were born with midwife assistance. My first two were born in NY, with a different set-up, as far as getting to know all of the midwives in the practice.

I did find my visits to the Providence clinic a bit frustrating--I was constantly repeating my pregnancy history (cmon, I've seen the other midwives write it down, take the time to read the notes). I also received some minor conflicting advice, regarding weight gain and pregnancy nutrition. Nothing major, nothing relating to the health of the baby--I just chalked it up to different women having different opinions. Had this been my first baby, when I took everything the midwives said as gospel, I would have been confused. But this was my third, and I was a lot more relaxed/experienced about this whole baby thing, so I just went with what I knew.

I understand you're looking for a CNA at a birthing center, but for others reading this I will just say that I loved the midwifery clinic associated with Emanuel. Everyone was wonderful there--very supportive, encouraging, knowledgeable, etc. This was after a less-than-stellar experience with Providence Maternal Care Clinic for my first birth. I had good prenatal care there, but during the birth and post-natal? Not so much. I definitely recommend the Emanuel midwives.

Vivante Midwifery ( http://www.vivantemidwifery.com/ ) is another set of CNMs who deliver in hospitals as well as homes. May be worth checking into whether they are also connected to a local birth center. What I especially love about choosing birth with a midwife who attends homebirths is that you know that the people you have connected to during your visit will be the person present for your birth. No 1 in 7 chance that is typical with OB's in a hospital. Have a beautiful birth and happy snuggling wherever it may be!

Alam midwifery now has a nurse midwife on staff. I used Laura Erikson for both of my son's homebirths and HIGHLY recommend her and her birth center.

I can't say enough good about OHSU Midwives clinic. Linda was the one in the room with us when we actually had Leo, but both Ellen Tilden and Penny Harmon were with us and wonderfully supportive at various moments during the 5 month's along emergency appendectomy and all the prenatal visits. Another benefit, if things happen differently than planned, your at OHSU.

Seconding Rae's comment: We had Iris at Alma--the same day Ivy was born!--and had a great experience. We didn't use the CNM but the entire experience was calming and supportive and wonderful. I went through a bigtime withdrawel after our birthing experience was over and still miss my midwives!

Linda Glenn was my midwife - I gave birth at OHSU - and I cannot say enough wonderful things about her. I went to the Womens Health Center at OHSU and saw almost all the midwives there during my pregnancy. Ellen Tilden, Maggie Shaw, Michelle LacChance - they are all fantastic. Here is the link (www.ohsuwomenshealth.com/index.asp) for the health center and a link to a pdf giving all the CNM's bios (www.ohsuwomenshealth.com/services/doctors/pdfs/OHSU_nurse_midwives.pdf). I have had a lot of experience being in the hospital/dealing with doctors, etc and I have never felt so comfortable, secure and respected. I knew that myself and my baby were in good hands with these women. I had to have my baby in the hospital because I am an epileptic so I don't know if this helps - it sounds like you may be seeking a home birth? Even so, Linda is with Vivante like other people have already posted and she is great! After a long, complicated labor I ended up having to have a c-section, but Linda was there with me even during my surgery and supported me throughout. I don't know if I would feel as good about everything that happened if I had not been with the midwifery service. I hope this helps!
Sarah Case Gilbert

I went to Alma and had Michele as one of my midwives (along with Laura and Mirra). She is absolutely wonderful, Alma is fantastic, and I wholeheartedly recommend both Michele and Alma to anyone.

My baby was born in April and after laboring for more than a day at Alma, I transferred to Emmanuel and labored all through another night. Michele was there by my side the whole time, gave me so so much support, helped convince me that I didn't need a c-section (after about 47 hours of labor I was begging at one point), and then she promptly went to work at her other job (she works in the NICU at Emmanuel too) after being up for so long with me. I never thought I would be transfered to the hospital and wasn't prepared for that in a way but she stayed with me the whole time acting as my advocate, explaining all the hospital/doctor protocol sort of things, talking with the doctors and nurses, etc. I don't think I would of had such a great experience with the hospital if she wasn't there.

I know I wouldn't have had such an amazing birth without her help and expertise (she has quite a few kids herself). And the care I received throughout my pregnancy was fantastic, and she always had lots of good ideas, remedies, and advice. Go Alma and Michele!

I wasn't clear if you are interested in delivering in a hospital... If you are, the OHSU midwives are terrific. Ellen Tilden delivered my daughter and she is great. The nurse I had at OHSU on labor and delivery was completely on board with my plan for a natural birth. My husband says that we had a home birth at the hospital! That said, we weren't in L&D long, I was 9 cm when we arrived at OHSU. Very best of luck for a joyous birth with a provider that gives you confidence!

We also highly recommend Alma.

Alma is great!! My sister used them, and had Michelle as one of her mw's because her insurance required a cnm too. I am using them now and I love Alma! All their midwives are fantastic. I have Laura, Mirra, and Debbie, and I think my sister used Laura, Michelle, and Debbie.

I had both of my children at OHSU with the Midwive's practice and I loved them. Linda told me when I had my son that she did not deliver babies, she just catches them. Very supportive, very matter-of-fact. I had an epidural the first time, didn't the second but got to stay in the tub the whole time and my duaghter was actually born underwater (Ellen and Penny were there for that one).

So I love the midwives at OHSU, and their maternity ward is OK, but try to NEVER get put in the shared room (they have two). It can be uncomfortable - I didn't mind until they started prepping the room for a new roommate a third time... good luck!

I haven't given birth yet, but am using the midwives at Andaluz (www.waterbirth.net). They have been fantastic so far. My insurance also requires a certified nurse midwife, and while the midwives at Andaluz are not certified nurses, they have a relationship with one who will be present (i.e. in the building) during the birth, for the purposes of satisfying my insurance company. It doesn't cost me anything extra to have the extra midwife around and she won't actually be an extra body in the room, she'll just be present in the building.

I guess I left out the part that Andaluz has two birthing centers - a brand new one that just opened in Portland, and one in Tualatin.

If you are interested in a free-standing birth center, they are primarily staffed by Licensed Midwives. Also, there is a free-standing birth center where Naturopathic Physicians attend the births. For a well CNM-staffed environment, the hospital is their domain.

The scope of practices are different for all three types of providers so you might ask, when inquiring, about the differences.

I also highly recommend Catherine Schaefer and Nora Tallman and their practice a Gentle beginning. They have both been Naturopaths and midwives for many years and about 4-5 years ago aquired CNM credentials as well. So they are very experienced and very well rounded. I went to nursing school with Catherine and was very impressed and then sought them out when I was having my baby and wanted a homebirth with people I trusted. It was a good decision. They also run a great natural birth class. I can't speak to birth center births with them.

My insurance (ODS) did not balk at them as providers but was difficult over a few issues. They didn't like the global fee and thought they did too many well baby visits after the birth (although we were saving them the hospital fee, and still would have been there for the day 2 visit grr, sigh). It eventually worked out.

Incidentally I have also heard good things about Linda Glenn mentioned before and know someone from my birth class who had a very good experience with the midwives at OHSU. Good luck with your decision.

If you are truly looking for a birth center, not a so-called "family birth center" in the hospital, Alma is great! I have had both of my sons with the midwives there, as well as working there first as an apprentice and now as a CPM (midwife). Best of luck!

I haven't had a midwife birth, but have been on the other end as a coordinator for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, and would add that there's a reason that insurance companies are wary of utilizing a non-certified midwife. Everyone has a different skill set and it's important to use someone who knows all of the potentials-- and the precautions that should be undertaken.

Hi guys!
Thanks so much for all the feedback! I am going with Michelle at Alma. I'm very excited to hear so many good things about her and about Alma. I have my first appointment tomorrow at 11 weeks! Maybe we can hear the heartbeat? I can't wait to begin classes and meet other new mamas too. (This is my first!)

Baby Portland resource guide has a list of Birth Options in Portland, including all midwives, birth centers (we've heard great things about alma!), and hospitals we've heard good things about. http://babyportland.com

This comment is coming very late as it is March and your last note was in November. For the future there is a group of 9 midwives at the Women's Health Center of Oregon in Oregon City that are incredible. They deliver at Willamette Falls Birth Place where they have large birthing rooms with jaquzzi tubs, birthing balls, rocking chairs, and one on one CNM and nurse care. My daughter delivered there with one of the midwives last year and another daughter will deliver with them this summer.

I used this thread when researching midwives, so I thought I'd pass on some thoughts for future moms. We chose the Legacy Emanuel Midwifery Clinic and we were really happy with our decision. We had the philosophy of midwives (less interventions during pregnancy and labor) and all the medical tools of a hospital. I wanted to have an entirely natural labor, but 14 days after my due date, after trying all the natural induction methods, I reluctantly decided to be induced at the hospital. When I first got to there, I was disappointed and fearful, but I soon felt very safe. I didn't feel like we were rushed to have the baby within a certain number of hours of starting the induction, and we felt like we were always presented with our options and the risks and benefits of each choice. Betsy Hayford was the midwife who delivered our baby, and she delivered four other babies that night at the hospital. Even with all the other births going on at the same time, she was very present when she was in the room with us. Her suggestions for pushing positions really helped, and she was a calming influence on us all. The nurses at the hospital were also really encouraging and supportive. I posted comments in the thread on legacy midwives and the thread on pitocin induction with more details.

Has anyone had a vaginal breech birth? I'm currently at OHSU with Ellen Tilden (love her!) and know they perform them, but haven't found much information about it. This is my second birth. My son was sunnyside up and aspirated merconium/in NICU for 3 days after, so I appreciate being in a hospital with a NICU.

My husband and I are very close to going with Vivante. I was hoping to hear more feedback from other mama's about this practice. We are deciding between them and A gentle Beginning. Any thoughts? Just found out I am pregnant and needing to decide.

We used A Gentle Beginning in 2010 with the birth of our first (9lb 8 oz) and they were wonderful and covered by our BCBS insurance as out of network providers. Both Catherine and Regina attended the birth, and it was not without excitement as I bled a lot post delivery. They administered pitocin, sutured and cathed me with ease and completely professionalism, all while I held my baby in the comfort of my bedroom. The after visits at home were marvelous too; and I called after hours upon several occasions with concerns about breastfeeding and was cheerfully assisted each time. Absolutely great pre and post natal care. They *do* tend to push supplements and vitamins, but not too bad. I had terrible joint pain (SPD) for the final 20 weeks and they were trying to figure out how to help with that.

The best thing about using A Gentle Beginning for both my hubby and I was the birth class. It met every week (spouses and partners came every other week). Our cohort has remained friends and still get together for playdates regularly. This community has been so fabulous.

I'm just discovering that I'm pregnant with a 2nd child and will go with A Gentle Beginning again unless Vivante can lure me away with more local prenatal appointments (I'm in Vancouver) or better insurance coverage. We'll see. Its great to have so many local options for natural birth!

I would not reccomend Providence midwives - they missed major warning signs for preclampsia which resulted in a 28 week preemie.

I would like to know: has anyone used the CNMs from Women's Healthcare Associates through Providence St. Vincent's? I am fearful that although they are midwives, that they would have to abide by the 'have the baby in a certain timeline' rule set by the hospital.
Also, I'd like to hear from anyone who has had a COMPLETELY natural birth from beginning to end using these two 'organizations' and would love to hear about your overall experience.

I'm only now seeing this so really late, but I had my two children at Providence St Vincent with the midwives (well, only one during birth) from WHA. They were all wonderful midwives! Helen Welch delivered my first (Helen retired though. she was the best) and Jabke Buesseler delivered my second. I had doulas with each labor-- the nurses and midwives were happy and accommodating with my doulas each time. I had an epidural with my first-- not pushed on me at all, I decided I needed it when I was laboring at home. So I asked for it immediately upon arrival at st. v. My plan had been to have natural. My second was natural. He came very quick. 40 minutes after we got to the hospital.

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