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Midwives grow in popularity

Nicole Fry holds her 3-month-old baby in her Clinton home. - STEPHEN MERCER
Nicole Fry holds her 3-month-old baby in her Clinton home.
— image credit: STEPHEN MERCER

If Coupeville’s Whidbey General Hospital does decide to begin a midwife program to improve effectiveness, they may only need to look to nearby Greenbank for customer relations tips.

Cynthia Jaffe — a midwife and owner of Greenbank women’s clinic and birthing center — delivers between 40 to 60 babies a year either at the Greenbank center or the mother’s home. In total, Jaffe estimates delivering babies for about 800 families since opening the service more than 10 years ago.

Midwives treat birth as a normal experience, Jaffe said.

“I believe the body knows how to give birth,” she said.

Other benefits include parents feeling they have more control during the birthing process by being allowed to move around and eat, she said.

Those were a few of the perks Nicole Fry of Clinton remembers three months after giving birth to her daughter, Ava, at the Greenbank center.

Walks in the woods during her labor to Jaffe’s bedside manner, and checkups after pregancy all left Fry and her husband Aaron “extremely pleased” with their decision.

The services are part of a routine Jaffe has followed for families all over western Washington.

She said her midwife service draws people from Island County and other nearby areas.

A recent survey conducted by a graduate student showed about 30 percent of Island County’s residents use midwives.

By comparison, the national average is seven percent.

Fry made the final decision to use the birthing center when reading about shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia occurs when a baby’s shoulder becomes stuck during birth.

Fry said if she received an epidural before giving birth it would numb her body from the waist down. So when the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck, the staff must break the baby’s collarbone to remove the newborn from the mother, Fry said.

“That scenario made me want to go to a midwife,” she said.

Several medical websites stated that breaking the collarbone is considered an option to prevent spinal nerve injury or other problems.

Ava’s shoulder became stuck during birth, Fry said. Since she could move her upper and lower body with Jaffe’s instructions, Ava was delivered without complications.

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