Balancing on the Crest

Reflections on One Year at the Minnesota Birth Center
By: Katie Ireland, APRN, CNM

Katie IrelandTo be quite honest, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I answered YES to a question: “Would you ever consider becoming an MBC midwife?” I had never been a part of out of hospital birth before, but I have a great passion to provide evidence-based choices to birthing people. I know that well-screened, low-risk individuals should have access to quality out-of-hospital birth locations with seamless transition to hospital care if that becomes necessary. I believe in the core of my being that being able to make an informed choice about your place of birth is a human right. And I mean, come on. It sounded romantic and crunchy and pure and exhilarating.

The day-to-day of putting that passion, core belief, and evidence-based human right into practice is hard. It is romantic and sometimes crunchy and often pure, but the work is never, ever done. We are creating a system of care almost from scratch. We have experienced exponential growth. From the first birth in May 2012 to the 1000th birth in September 2016 is more than anyone expected when MBC opened its doors and tub faucets to the first birth. This is a system that the families of the Twin Cities metro area are clamoring to access.

IMG_8654It is hard for the midwives, administration professionals, and birth assistants of the Minnesota Birth Center to realize when we are mired in the sometimes complicated minutiae of the day-to-day that we are truly on the cresting wave of a shift in the birth culture of this country. We are changing the culture with each birth certificate that is filed that does not have a hospital listed as place of birth, each Vaginal Birth after Cesarean we attend in the hospital where patience and movement and patient-led decision making are the norm, each family that goes home after 4-6 hours after the birth of their newborn and tells their neighbors about the experience. In the short amount of time we have been in existence, we have become the third largest Birth Center in this country. We are benefiting from the work of those who came before us; who fought for birth center legislation, the human right to chose out-of-hospital birth, the homebirth midwives who have been assisting families to birth in the location of their choice for decades with so little support.

I have now been at the Minnesota Birth Center for a little over one year, participating in this wave of culture shift in little ways. I have been honored to witness and join in tears of joyful wonderment, bitter tears of loss, and tears of uncontrollable laughter. Riding the crest of this wave is uncomfortable, it is challenging. It is uplifting. It is exhilarating.

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