About the Midwives
photo by Nicole Dolan
Sarah and Lisa serve as collaborating midwives in a model of care that provides the continuity and relationship of a single midwife with the safety and support of two trained care providers. Clients each have a "primary midwife" who coordinates her care and conducts most prenatal and postpartum appointments. The other midwife is a "support midwife" who attends at least one prenatal appointment, the birth, and a postpartum appointment and is available as backup. The result is focused care from one midwife with the reassurance of two Certified Professional Midwives attending births and a familiar backup always on call.
As a traditional midwife and herbalist, I am committed to offering holistic, family-centered care for women and babies throughout the childbearing year. Midwifery called to me early: when I was nine years old, my aunt had a home birth. Her description of the loving care from her midwife and the beauty and empowerment of her birth experience spoke to a deep calling I felt to serve families during this special time. I believe that birth and the immediate postpartum period are important, even pivotal, in a woman's relationship with her body and in a new child's perception of the world. It is a joy and a privilege to be present at each and every birth I am invited to attend. I have served State College, Penns Valley, Lewisburg, and the surrounding areas since 2005, supporting local families at over 400 births as they achieve the safe, natural experience they have planned and worked for. I see my role as a midwife to provide education and individualized care, nurturing a woman's understanding of her own body wisdom and supporting a family in decision-making true to their own needs and values. read more
Because nine years old is a bit young to begin a formal midwifery education, I nurtured this plan while pursuing a related interest in herbalism and holistic health. As a child I would gather and mix concoctions of bark and leaves that my family refused to drink. Over time, this interest grew into a thirst for information in all forms- herbal reference books, phytopharmaceutical texts, workshops, training, apprenticeships, herb walks and extensive self-study. I strongly believe that herbal support, with good nutrition and outdoor exercise, is the best way to support a woman's body into childbearing and beyond.
I began attending births in 2000 providing labor support in a hospital-based midwifery practice in Northern California. In 2002, my calling toward homebirth led me to Maine and Birthwise Midwifery School, a direct-entry midwifery program which combines three terms of didactic study with clinical experience and is accredited by the Midwifery Educators Accreditation Council. My in-school clinical experience consisted of apprenticeships with a licensed homebirth midwife in rural New Hampshire and a Certified Nurse Midwife in urban Maine. Most of my experiential training as a student came from a busy birth center in Juneau, Alaska offering homebirth and birth center options, where I continued to attend births after graduating from Birthwise and completing the requirements for my credentialing as a Certified Professional Midwife. In August 2005 I moved to Central Pennsylvania to start an independent practice and find my home in the beautiful green hills of Penns Valley, outside of State College.
Before my life as a midwife, I earned a BS with Honors in Conservation and Resource Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, focusing on Agricultural Ecology and Community Self Sufficiency. After college I trained and worked for three years as an EMT and Professional Firefighter for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, providing immediate emergency medical care. I am a member of the Midwives Alliance of North America, the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives, the Midwives Alliance of Pennsylvania, and a founding member of the Pennsylvania Association of Certified Professional Midwives. I maintain current CPR and Neonatal Resuscitation (NRP) Certification and participate in regular peer review and continuing education.
When I am not visiting with families or attending births, I am usually outdoors hiking with my dogs, gardening in summer, cross-country skiing in winter, tending our beehives with my husband, or gathering herbs. My work and relationships give my life purpose, and a steady ongoing yoga and meditation practice help me navigate this calling within a framework of mindfulness. I enjoy cooking and laughing with family and friends and running into clients and their children at Farmers' Markets.
I attended my first birth 4 months after beginning my midwifery education. Since then I have been present at about 300 births. Each one has been a unique and remarkable event and a privilege to attend. I believe that homebirth can and should be an option for healthy women experiencing a normal, low risk pregnancy. I also believe that a childbearing experience that is safe, and respectful of the individual autonomy of women, their babies and their families, is a basic human right. In addition, I feel that pregnancy and birth have the capacity to be powerful, even transformative experiences that can complement a family's commitment to living their lives according to their values. When a woman is able to choose a safe and comfortable location, assemble a supportive birth team, and work with a care provider who is simultaneously able to trust birth and remain alert, she and her family have the opportunity to experience these events in the way that best suits them. read more
As a Certified Professional Midwife, I am dedicated to providing homebirth midwifery services to women in Central Pennsylvania. I earned the credential of CPM in 2008, the same year I graduated from Birthwise Midwifery School. I also maintain certification in CPR and Neonatal Resuscitation, and participate in peer review and continuing education programs. I am a member of the Midwives Alliance of North America, the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives and the Midwives Alliance of Pennsylvania.
Before choosing to become a midwife I received a BA in Anthropology from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. Although the seed had been there for many years, I believe that it was through my concentration in cultural anthropology and minor in Women's Studies that my interest in midwifery was cultivated. One chapter in a textbook led to other books, which eventually led me Birthwise Midwifery School. I knew that rather than observing and documenting our culture's relationship to birth, I wanted to participate in changing it. I feel that offering individualized, compassionate care to mothers, their babies and families is an effective way to do so.
My clinical experience and hands-on training began with a semester each in a nurse practitioner's office and a homebirth practice shared by 2 CPMs in Maine, followed by a year-long preceptorship with a CNM offering homebirth services in the Kansas City area. I was then drawn back to my home state of Pennsylvania by Sarah's idyllic descriptions of the ridge and valley region, the Penns Creek watershed, and the fascinating juxtaposition of cultures that make up the communities of this area; Amish and Penn State, small town heritage and revitalized Main Street. Sarah became my preceptor in 2007. I completed my training under her supervision and continued to work as her assistant before beginning to take my own clients in 2011. Since then I have attended an average of 2-3 births per month as the primary midwife while also filling the role of support/back-up midwife for Sarah's practice.
In addition to working with Sarah as a student, an assistant, and as a colleague, I have also had the pleasure of having Sarah as my midwife. I have one son, born in 2009, who was born at home into her hands. She is part of our family and he knows his birth story and her role in it. My free time is usually spent with my son and our friends; playing, exploring, crafting, gardening, preparing and eating good food, reading, and enjoying the community we live in.
If you know one of the midwives personally, feel free to contact her directly. Otherwise, you can send a general inquiry and we will help you find the midwife who is the best fit for you and your family.