By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Natural and alternative health-care options abound in West Seattle.
But if a family expecting a child wanted to explore the option of home birth with a certified midwife – there was no dedicated, midwifery-only West Seattle practice to turn to. Till now.
Taylor Hamil, LM, CPM (right), and Christine Tindal, LM, CPM, half the first graduating class from the new Department of Midwifery at Bastyr University, have opened In Tandem Midwifery in a warmly furnished Junction office, with a grand-opening event this Saturday.
Their first client is due in August. And they’re ready to welcome others.
Christine and Taylor are licensed, certified professional midwives, not nurse-midwives, though their training has included nursing care that may be needed to attend to mothers (prenatal and postpartum as well as during the birth process) and babies, to recognize complications if they arise, to stabilize until care can be transferred, and they carry medical supplies.
Taylor is a West Seattle resident; Christine says she will be, soon. They both graduated last year with master’s degrees in midwifery. They enthuse about their profession as one that “feeds the soul,” with memorable moments such as the instant when parent/s “see their baby and they forget you are in the room.”
Though their practice is new, together, as students, apprentices, and midwives, they have assisted in more than 300 births already. They say the Seattle midwifery community is excited about there being a dedicated practice in West Seattle, so they have many mentors to consult if and when necessary.
Why do moms choose midwifery care and home delivery? we ask. Taylor says the benefits include: “It’s the empowerment of knowing you can do this on your own, with a provider who trusts you have everything you need to do this thing you are meant to do.” Christine echoes, “Midwifery is inherently empowering to women and families,” as participants in decision-making, which isn’t always the case in relationships with health-care providers. She also observes, “Some women just don’t want to be in the hospital.” (Studies show that non-hospital low-risk births have a lower rate of medical intervention than hospital deliveries, and a comparable mortality rate.)
In addition to home births, they also can attend clients’ births at either of two birth centers in the city, the Center for Birth in Eastlake, or Seattle Home Maternity Service in Columbia City. Comfortable as their Junction office space looks, it’s not set up as a birth center, and West Seattle doesn’t have one of its own (though they point out, they attend home births with all the same supplies that are on hand at birth centers). The office is for pre- and postnatal care visits. They can also make home visits to bring that care to wherever you are, even before the 36-week mark in a client’s pregnancy, when they visit her home to make sure not only that it’s ready for labor/delivery but also that they know how to get there when the big day arrives.
After the baby is born – after that magic moment when the midwife leaves, with the new arrival and her/his parent/s all tucked in and resting – they have a schedule of postpartum visits, for both mother and baby, till six weeks. That includes not only health care for mother and baby, but also breastfeeding support.
Information and support are at the heart of the philosophy and practice of this kind of midwifery. There’s even a lending library at In Tandem:
How do you know that you would be a candidate for a home birth? Taylor and Christine say it’s not so much a list of prerequisites, as a list of exclusions, that covers their practice, by state law – “a low-risk ‘blanket’ falls over our scope of practice,” they explain. That might include uncontrolled high blood pressure or blood sugar, for example. But you can talk about that with them at a free initial consultation.
And yes, many insurance plans cover out-of-hospital births with certified-midwife care. Not all, though; the In Tandem billing assistant can help you figure out if yours does.
If you are not certain you want the full home-birth experience, they also offer other services – such as serving as a monitrice, a provider who will help you stay home as long as possible before going elsewhere to have your baby. “We’re trying hard to offer as many choices as possible,” said Taylor, “to (result in) a healthy mom and healthy baby.”
You can meet Christine and Taylor this Saturday as they open the doors to In Tandem Midwifery for a “grand opening” open house, noon-4 pm. (Everyone’s welcome, they assured us, not just the expectant or potentially expectant!) You can get to their offices from the breezeway at 4517 California SW in The Junction – take the stairs near the California entrance.