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Bethany Gates of Shiphrah Birth Services

If you missed part one of our Home Birth series, click here.

Today we want to introduce you to a professional in our community who offers services that are growing in popularity throughout the nation.

Bethany Gates, of Shiphrah Birth Services, is a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) who provides prenatal, birth, and postpartum care to women who are planning a home birth.

Bethany completed her training and became a CPM in April of 2017. We asked Bethany what led to her interest in becoming a midwife who specifically serves women at home and here's what she had to say:

"My first baby was born in the hospital, with a Nurse Midwife in attendance. We had a generally good experience but I was left feeling frustrated that as soon as I arrived at the hospital I was put on what felt like the conveyor belt of all the protocols based on how far I was dilated. Until my midwife arrived and set them straight, I was told that my birth plan basically didn't matter because 'this is what we always do when you're this far along in labor.' When we were pregnant the second time, we decided to look into home birth as an option. I was considered low-risk, which is an important consideration for being able to have a home birth, and after much searching, we finally connected with and interviewed several midwives. We had a home birth with our second baby and it was amazing. I had personal care with my midwife throughout pregnancy, and I loved giving birth at home. The environment was so different, and the informed consent discussions looked a lot different. Instead of 'we're going to do this because we always do it this way and we know best', the conversations included actual dialogue about options, benefits, risks, and my midwives always had time to address my questions. We went on to have our 3rd and 4th babies at home as well. Admittedly, one of my favorite parts about having a baby at home is not having to manage a 45 minute car ride during active labor. My last two labors were less than two hours and I have no desire to make the news because I gave birth on the side of the road! All that said, after our 1st home birth I knew that I wanted to be able to offer women more options. I first became a doula, but quickly realized that I wanted to be able to have a more active role in caring for women and facilitating more options in our area."

Bethany said that home birth has been on the rise over the last decade in Iowa, with under 1% of births taking place at home in 2008 compared to about 1.5% over the last few years. This lines up to the national rate of 1-2%, with some states throughout the nation seeing a 2.5% home birth rate.

We asked Bethany why women might choose a home birth and she said "women might come to me having already had a home birth in the past and know they want to have another home birth. Sometimes a client is a first-time mom whose own mother had home births, so she already has experience with home births and knows she wants to give birth at home, too. Other women may have had experiences in the hospital that they don't wish to repeat. The reasons a woman may desire a home birth are wide and varying."

Bethany tells us that most planned home births will occur at home as planned, but that about 10% of women planning a home birth will need to transport into the hospital, typically during labor, if something comes up that is outside the normal variations of labor and birth.

One of the inevitable questions that come up when home birth is being talked about is whether or not it's safe. The most comprehensive studies that address planned home births show that home birth, for low-risk women and attended by a trained midwife, is considered to be just as safe as giving birth in the hospital. While there are studies that contradict that statement, those studies typically include unplanned home births, births that took place on the way to the hospital and planned unassisted home births (unassisted home births are births where the parents have elected not to have a midwife attend them). You can read more about home birth safety here, where Bethany has broken down some studies and statistics.

Bethany said that with Iowa being such a rural state, there are some cases where a home birth midwife is the only OB option within a given county. Bethany estimates that there are about 10-12 midwives throughout the state providing home birth services, though she states there are likely more that she may not know about because Amish and Mennonite communities often have their own community midwives.

You can learn more about Bethany and home birth at her website, www.shiphrahbirth.com.



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