Childbirth from a midwife’s perspectiveAs a midwife, Rebekah Knapp has been attending home births for nearly 15 years. She’s delivered 230 babies.
By: Pamela Knudson, Grand Forks Herald
As a midwife, Rebekah Knapp has been attending home births for nearly 15 years. She’s delivered 230 babies.
She has worked with other midwives and has taken training at the Midwifery Institute of America in Tennessee. Since she attended, the school has moved to Arkansas, she said.
She earned a certificate from the school after completing 10½ weeks of training which, she said, “sounds like a short amount of time, but it was very intense.”
Each month, she attends four to seven home births for “people from every walk of life,” she said. “I’m always on call.”
Her patients include people connected with the Grand Forks Air Force Base, college students and those living in the Amish, Hutterite and Mennonite communities.
“It’s a fulltime job now,” she said.
In addition to attending home births, she provides prenatal and post-partum care and is up front with families about not being licensed with the state, she said. She is not permitted to prescribe medications.
She estimates 50 to 60 lay midwives are practicing without licenses in Minnesota.
“I definitely keep up on my education and am in touch with other midwives, constantly bouncing things off them,” Knapp said.
She maintains certification in pulmonary resuscitation and neonatal resuscitation.
About half of her clients have health insurance but “rarely does health insurance cover home births,” she said. “It may cover birth with a nurse midwife, but not many of them do home births.”
She wants to see expectant moms at least four times before delivery, she said. “If they have toddlers, we can schedule it during their naptime.”
During prenatal care she tries to anticipate any problems that might require her patient to go to the hospital to give birth, she said. “We want to determine if it’s safe to have a home birth.”
If it appears likely the patient will need to be in the hospital, “we try to anticipate not waiting until the last minute when it becomes a dire emergency,” she said.
Knapp can attend births in a hospital but not as a midwife; she’d serve as a doula, and “help walk them through everything there.”
In such situations, patients have asked her, “can you translate what they just said?”
She expects the field of midwifery will gain popularity, “mainly because of the way a lot of hospitals are going,” she said. “Many women feel they don’t get personal care at hospitals. And many little hospitals have closed.
“If you’ve been labeled as ‘high risk’ — say you have a history of short labor — you may not be allowed to deliver at a local hospital.”
She said she sees “a lot of young couples” turning to home births because they’d “rather avoid or lower their chances of having a C-section.”
Many families “want to do things the way they want to do them,” she said. “In hospitals, you’re sometimes treated just as a number, (but) I know that’s not the goal of doctors. ”
Personal care and a “lot of prenatal care provided in the home” draw patients to midwives, she said, and after the birth, “to be able to sleep peacefully at home, without nurses bothering you every 15 minutes and all the noises of a hospital.”
Families find Knapp mostly by word-of-mouth, she said. “I have three families I’ve served four times. They each are working on Baby No. 5.”
After years of helping families welcome new additions, the connection with her clients “is more like friends and family,” she said. “We talk about the latest quilting project or how potty-training is going for the 2-year-old.”
What’s the most gratifying part of her work?
Knapp said, “Having the mom, after the birth, say, ‘I did it.’”
Call Knudson at (701) 780-1107; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1107; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.