Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Miss Perception

When we first broke ground on our new office and birth center, we were called several times by people in what seemed to be going toward a community uproar. Why? Because we were building an abortion clinic, that's why. Or so, that was the word on the street. People in our neighborhood called our office. The church across the street called our office. Another midwife in our community was approached about us by inquiring minds in her own church. 

The interesting thing with living in a small community, is that we are all connected. This, for the most part, is a strength and why I love living in a small community. I go on to have repeat clients and help them welcome all of their babies, I take care of friends and family members of previous clients, and we all continue to be further enriched by being deeply and strongly interweaved. However, sometimes- as in the case of the abortion clinic- living in a small community turns comparable to a bad case of The Telephone Game: information is shared, misconstrued, added, subtracted, twisted, contorted, misinterpreted, and passed on as factual truth. 

In the case of the abortion clinic, the truth was: we were- and are- anything but. We take care of women. We help families become families. 

Fast forward to today and on a completely different topic, our office received a phone call from a very upset, and not-so-nice woman. Her phone call really upset one of our receptionists. The woman felt the need to randomly call and speak of "things she had heard." In speaking with our employees about the incident, I contemplated the idea of calling this anonymous woman back to address her statements and provide her with accurate, factual information. Would it do any good? Would it be welcomed? Would it/could it make a difference to this apparent raging-mad woman? Would it just upset me? One of our employees pointed out: if I didn't call- if I just left it as it was- this woman would remain with her inaccurate misunderstandings. Thankfully for caller ID and a thoughtful receptionist, I had her phone number. 

I picked up the phone and called this woman, not knowing what to expect but knowing that my heart was open and I was coming from a place where I wanted to rectify any misinformation. 

The Telephone Game teaches us the power of perception and individual interpretation...stories morph as they go from individual to individual, each unique in perception and interpretation. 

For the anonymous caller, I hope our talk helped- and put this lesson into perspective. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Birth Center Option

Every week it seems we get more and more calls and emails inquiring about what our care consists of and what exactly a birth center can offer. It is wonderful to see more and more women and families actively researching and wanting to know more about this option. So, I got to thinking I should write a little bit about what we offer and why we are the best. Here goes...

In a time when healthcare consumers are becoming more and more involved in their care and decision-making, an increasing number of families are choosing to give birth not in the hospital, but rather, within a birth center- a homelike facility that revolves around the wellness model of pregnancy and birth.

The increasing number of families choosing to deliver at birth centers may largely be attributed to the increasing number of women desiring to have a natural, unmedicated birth, free of unnecessary intervention. Rather than policies of routine intervention, birth centers are guided by principles of support and prevention.

So you know you want a natural birth? Maybe you don't even know that for sure and are bordering on thinking that it is a wild and crazy idea! The best thing you can do- for yourself and your baby- is to know your options and learn more about what a birth center can offer. As we say around Integrated Women's Wellness...if you don't know your options, then you have none!

Here is what you can expect from a birth center birth with us:


We are a small, intimate practice whose primary focus is providing evidence-based, family-centered care, and truly getting to know each individual person. Unless planned well in advance, you know you will have the same care providers you have seen throughout your pregnancy attending you at your birth. Our patients have the benefit of an integrated model of care, which marries the personalized, wellness model that is midwifery care, with the science of obstetrics.

Tara Elrod, CDM

Glen Elrod, OB/Gyn

Our Rooms

We have two beautiful rooms that we specifically designed to be a cross between the comfort of home and the relaxing space of a luxury hotel. Both birth rooms showcase the scenic photographic art of our local Alaska surroundings (done by a local photographer, Calvin Hall), though each with different decor and its own distinct 'feel.' Both rooms offer a queen-sized family bed, an open-concept shower, and a large tub- both for hydrotherapy as well as the option for waterbirth.
There is no separation from partner, the barricade of a bed rail on a hospital bed, nor a hospital bed that gets "broken down" for a lithotomy-positioned turtle-back delivery.

Support People

Our model of care is that of evidence-based, family-centered care. There is no limit on the number of people allowed to be with you as you give birth or how involved they can be. It is entirely up to the patient. Family members, doulas, and siblings are welcome, as mom so chooses. Siblings and dads are welcomed and encouraged to be active participants in the birth. Also, at Integrated Women's Wellness & Center for Birth, we have two Apprentice Midwives who are also both Certified Doulas, who are able to provide wonderful additional support.

Shelby Larson, Apprentice Midwife and Doula

Mary Yanagawa, Apprentice Midwife and Doula

IVs and Medication

While birth centers are guided by principles of prevention and only appropriate medical intervention, some interventions are available, when indicated. At The Center for Birth, most women do not need to be hooked up to an IV, as they are low-risk and able to eat and drink freely. IVs are available as needed- for hydration, antibiotic administration for GBS, and for blood loss management. While IV pain medications are not available, antibiotics, Pitocin, Methergine, and Cytotec (for the management of a retained placenta or postpartum hemorrhage) are readily available and given as needed. If there is a laceration that needs to be repaired, lidocaine is able to be used for numbing.

Pain Management and Relaxation

Due to possible side effects for mom and baby, analgesic drugs (like IV pain medications) aren't given at The Center for Birth. However, the best kind of pain management comes from the encouragement and freedom of movement, aromatherapy, physical and emotional support, musical therapy, the supportive and calming surroundings, and the use of hydrotherapy in our large walk-in showers, and large tubs. Nearly 90% of the births with Integrated Women's Wellness and Center for Birth are waterbirths, and 99% of moms use water as a means of pain management and relaxation at some point during labor.

A Higher Level of Care (Hospital)

Emergencies are not expected but always anticipated and prepared for. Every clinical person- providers as well as support people- are trained and certified in Neonatal Resuscitation, the treatment of postpartum hemorrhage is possible, and we are located less than one mile from Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, should a hospital transport be necessary.

The birth of a baby- a new life- is a sacred event and a momentous occasion for a family. Consider having your baby in a welcoming, family-centered, and safe environment- our birth center!