Central Coast hospital embracing midwives

  • October 22, 2018

By Amanda Gomez, KION

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. — Midwives have been around for as long as babies have been born and using a midwife is being embraced on the Central Coast.

Although many midwives still practice out of homes, now some are moving to hospitals and birthing centers.

“It’s just more personal,” said pregnant mom Priscilla Gutierrez.

Priscilla Gutierrez is already a mom of two with twins on the way. She told KION she did a lot of research during her second pregnancy and decided she wanted to use a midwife because she wanted a different type of birthing experience.

“I realized I wanted to be more independent and have someone support me to make my own decisions, and for me to really be in charge of my own pregnancy and birth.”

However, Gutierrez also wasn’t facing a high-risk pregnancy which requires additional help from doctors.

“We can take care of low risk women, healthy moms and babies,” said Jamie Meyerhoff.

Jamie Meyerhoff and Kristin Bakhda are certified nurse midwives and registered nurses. That means they are trained health professionals and registered nurses, both with masters degrees specializing in women’s health and midwifery.

“So we know normal women’s health, normal women’s baby care normal labor,” said Meyerhoff.

“We guide women through all stages of the life span, before pregnancy, during pregnancy and after pregnancy,” said Kristin Bakhda.

Natividad is the only hospital in Monterey County to offer midwife services to mothers before, during and after child birth. It’s a collaboration doctor Peter Chandler is proud of.

“We love our midwives here. For the last five years, we’ve really been trying to create a program that would be honoring women in our community who don’t have a lot of risk, low risk women in labor. Part of that is creating an environment where they can feel reassurance, feel comfortable like a home setting and provide an environment where they aren’t just going to have a c-section,” said Peter Chandler, Service Director OB/GYN, Natividad.

For women who do need an OB/GYN, at Natividad women can work with a doctor and a midwife. That’s what Gutierrez is doing this time around as she prepares to give birth to twins.

“Now having two, it is going to be different, but Jamie was very supportive telling me it’s going to be okay and all it is extra care,” said Gutierrez.

As for cost, a California law requires insurance companies to cover midwives the same as doctors.

“So if your insurance says you have a deductible, you have to pay the deductible, but everything over that is covered the same way anything else would be in your insurance plan,” said Bakhda.

If a woman doesn’t have insurance, she can apply for medi-cal programs or Covered California. Midwives also take on the sole responsibility of caring for mom and baby which means they will be liable should something happen.

“I carry the responsibility of that mom and baby’s life,” said Meyerhoff.

It’s a responsibility midwives like Jamie and Kristin are happy to take on— to help new mothers during one of the most important moments of their lives.

Watch the full KION Midwife video here.

Amanda Gomez can be reached at amanda.gomez@kionrightnow.com.