Frequently Asked Questions
Almeda (Alma) Moon, Laura Erickson’s great Aunt, was a midwife who influenced Laura’s decision to become a midwife. The Birth Center is named for her. After naming the center, more interesting facts about Alma have been discovered: alma in Spanish means soul, and alma in Latin means to nurture.
According to the article “Sufi Healing” by Kamil Nash in the April 2005 “Natural Awakenings” magazine, the Arabic language gives meaning to sounds. The “A” sound is the primary sound. It has an energetic action of opening. How perfect for a birth center! There are two acupuncture meridians which are called the Ren (or conception vessel) and the Du (governor vessel). These meridians run up the midline of the body, and the gap between the upper and lower lips. The “L” sound, which is made by applying the tongue to the roof of the mouth, connects these meridians.
We do, and we love VBACs! In Oregon, it is legal to do these at home or in the birth center as long as there is eighteen months between the surgery and the new baby’s due date. Our VBAC success rate is close to 90% (but varies by year). When you compare this to a national average of less than 10% of women having successful VBACs, it is pretty obvious that something in that system isn’t right.
If you are interested in having a VBAC, we ask that we have the records for your previous surgery to help make sure you are an appropriate candidate. We may also ask you to have more ultrasounds to determine if your placenta is anywhere near your scar, and to check scar integrity.
This varies from midwife to midwife, and from month to month. The average is four, though some of us take as few as two and as many as six.
No, we don’t. We refer to several different imaging places and are glad to refer you for an ultrasound if needed or desired.
We offer all the same genetic screening options as you would have if you were seeing a hospital-based practitioner.
Thank you for your desire to be involved! Midwifery needs consumers who are dedicated to helping maintain their right to birth where and with whom they choose. We work tirelessly to uphold those rights, but we need your voices too—and they are received even better than ours.
Ways to be involved:
Contact your senator. Click here to find the contact information for your senator and ask that they uphold your right to birth where you choose. Stories about your births, or how you are personally affected by this are always helpful.
Contact the Health Licensing Board. As our regulatory agency they need to keep hearing from consumers to know what you want.
The Oregon Midwifery Council (OMC) is the most important midwife organization in the state. It pays for our lobbyist who fights to maintain midwifery the way we hope it will be. This includes things like ensuring we are autonomous practitioners, maintaining our right to attend VBAC, twins, breeches, post-dates and so many other types of births. The OMC is glad to receive donations to help pay for the lobbyist and further the cause of midwifery in this state.
Alma is green! Medical waste can make a serious environmental impact. Look here for more information. With that in mind, Alma continues to make an effort to minimize our environmental impact. Currently, the ways we are doing that are:
- Reducing, reusing, and recycling!
- Active recycling program, including composting paper towels
- Reusable underpads used at birth as much as possible
- Earth-friendly cleaning products
- High-efficiency washers and dryers
- Changing our lighting to be more up-to-date and earth friendly
- Battery recycling program
- Using recycled paper products as much as possible
Good question! The short answer is that midwives care for low-risk women, both in and out of the hospital. Obstetricians do that too, but they also take care of high-risk women, and can use forceps, vacuums, and do surgical deliveries (Cesarean sections) when necessary. For more information about what our particular care is like, please see our midwifery care, home birth, and birth center pages.
Labor & Birth
As midwives, we plan our vacations far in advance, usually before people even get pregnant for the month in question. If we are on vacation for a particular month, we will not even take interviews or accept clients for that month. If the vacation is a shorter one and it is anywhere near your due date your midwife will let you know at the interview or as soon as she knows herself. If it is the junior midwife or apprentice, you will be informed very early in your care as well. One of the benefits of working in a group practice is that we are available to cover for each other if something comes up. If your midwife has a vacation planned near your due date, you will meet the person covering for her and get to know them a bit as well.
Because we take so few births a month, it is a rare occurrence for us to have more than one client in labor at the same time. If that does happen, we again can call on the resources of our group to cover for each other.
You may have whomever you choose at your birth. Our advice on choosing guests to invite is to limit it to people who you want there for a specific reason. Do they have anything in particular to offer? Will they give you good labor support, acupuncture, massage? Try not to ask people to be at the birth for them and ensure you are asking them to be there for you. Having people there who you don’t really want, don’t feel comfortable with, or who are negative or scared about out-of-hospital birth is a recipe for a more challenging experience.
As for children, we are glad to have children of all ages at your birth! We ask that your child have an adult there who is responsible for them. That person should be unattached to witnessing the birth so that they may leave with the older child if necessary.
Sadly, pets are not allowed in the birth center.
Having a birth is an intense and challenging life event. While it can definitely be interpreted as painful, most women’s interpretation of pain can be greatly affected by their environment, their relationship with their care provider, their level of feeling safe or scared, and so many other factors. We have lots of tools for pain management, including our relationship of trust that we’ve built up throughout your pregnancy, and things like: water, herbs, homeopathics, and massage. We also have relationships with local chiropractors and acupuncturists who are on call to help with various challenges (including pain management) if we think they may be helpful.
So, no, we don’t have pharmaceutical pain relief: no epidurals or narcotics.
What happens in an emergency? What if I need a Cesarean section?
Depending on the year, somewhere around 90% of women who choose to birth at Alma or at home with the Alma midwives do so. If something comes up in your pregnancy, labor, birth, or postpartum that indicates it would be safer to be in a hospital setting, we don’t hesitate to go there. Our relationship with local hospitals is such that your midwife is able to join you in the hospital and continue to provide labor support there. If there is an actual emergency where time is of the essence (about 1% of births that we attend), we may choose to transport there by ambulance. Your midwives will discuss this possibility with you as your due time approaches.
In the case of a transport during labor, upon discharge from the hospital you will continue your postpartum care at the birth center as planned.
Like all of our care, this varies from person to person. Most people to choose to stay for two nights, though some have chosen to leave a few hours after the birth. Take a look at the birth center to get more information about benefits of being at the birth center.
Your midwives will care for you and your baby for the first 6 weeks of life. Most people choose to make their first appointment with a pediatrician when their baby is 8 weeks old. It’s helpful to decide on a pediatrician in late pregnancy because it’s a lot easier to meet and get to know their philosophies on different issues when your baby is on the inside!
We do not. New research has deemed it medically unnecessary, and we’re glad to provide you with more information if you have questions.
We think childbirth education is important, especially for first-time parents or parents having a natural birth for the first time. We offer a discounted childbirth education series HERE, and we’ve worked to develop this basic class to be appealing to most people. We also recommend The Yoga Way to Birth Series, Birthing from Within, or Hypnobirthing classes. Each of these has a slightly different approach, and you can get more information about each of them by checking out their websites. Feel free to ask your midwives which classes they have found to be the most beneficial.
There are lots of pregnancy books that we love, and some we love a lot less. One of the ones we would not recommend is the ever-popular “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. That book is pretty fear-based and not the most appropriate for those planning out-of-hospital births.
Some we love are listed below.
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth – Henci Goer
Gentle Birth Choices – Barbara Harper
The Birth Partner – Penny Simkin
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – Ina May Gaskin
Special Delivery – Rahima Baldwin
Immaculate Deception – Suzanne Arms
Birthingway College has a great list that can be found here
We always recommend a good-quality prenatal vitamin, though one you take is always better than one you can’t stand. Starting them when you are thinking about getting pregnant is even better!
During pregnancy, we may advise using any number of different herbs, minerals, or supplements (including things like Vitamin D or fatty acids) depending on your individual needs and on the current research.
We do, and as individuals we all have different levels of training and comfort with them.What happens if my baby is early (or late)?
As licensed midwives in the state of Oregon, we can serve attend births anywhere between 36 and 43 weeks gestation. Most births occur between 38 and 42 weeks, and in our experience births before or after those dates (though legally permitted) require further discussion with your individual midwives.