Our Midwifery Practice
We provide personalized, nurturing care that respects the individual wishes of our clients. As midwives, we spend considerable time discussing each family's unique needs during the exciting and sometimes challenging transitions of pregnancy and birth. We strive for informed choice, which means we will discuss the benefits, risks, and alternatives for each procedure we offer with ample time for questions. We explore what our clients' hopes and fears are for their upcoming birth, and we wonder together what will help them feel most secure.
Gentle Hands Midwifery hopes to cultivate a joyful anticipation of birth. To that end, we offer comprehensive maternity care, including punctual, unhurried prenatal, birth, and postpartum care. We are available 24 hours a day to address any urgent concerns.
We offer a free consultation visit to meet one of the midwives, ask questions, discuss if midwifery care is right for you, and have a few laughs while chatting informally.
The next step is a comprehensive initial prenatal visit during the first trimester. This initial visit, which takes a little more than an hour, involves taking a complete medical and obstetrical history; a physical exam; a pelvic exam, if needed; a blood draw for prenatal lab work; and the opportunity for clients more than 10 weeks pregnant to listen to the baby's heartbeat.
We schedule prenatal visits monthly until about 30 weeks, every two weeks until about 36 weeks, and weekly until the baby is born. Visits are conducted in the comfortable birth suites at Bellingham Birth Center, allowing clients planning to deliver there many opportunities to become familiar with that environment.
Visits are typically 45 minutes long and rotate between midwives, giving us all a chance to get to know one another. We offer ample time for discussing your health needs and options during pregnancy, including:
Labwork and ultrasound
Screening and diagnostic testing for pregnancy-related conditions
Birthing options and preferences
Labor and Birth
Once labor has begun, the midwives either meet you at the birth center (if you're planning a birth center birth) or come to your home (if you're planning a home birth) when you are in active labor. From that point forward, until the baby is born, the midwives are unobtrusively monitoring the well-being of client and baby, including listening to baby's heart rate, checking vital signs, and making suggestions to help labor progress.
Clients are encouraged to move around freely, change positions, eat and drink as desired, and bring their support team, including their doula, close family or friends.
Postpartum and Newborn Care
Families typically stay at the birth center for about 3 hours after the birth. During this time, the midwives perform a complete assessment of the baby, monitor your health status, ensure that the baby is feeding well, and tidy up. Assistance with breastfeeding, help solving any problems, and referral to a lactation consultant, if desired, is standard.
We visit the family at their home the day after the birth. During this visit, we check on the health of the parent-baby dyad and answer any questions.
Postpartum visits are conducted at the birth center at 1 week and 6 weeks after delivery; more visits are offered as needed. We provide newborn care for the first 2 weeks, then care is taken over by the family's pediatrician.