Back to the Basics Births- Part One

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The birth of a baby is a life changing experience.

More mothers in Maine are choosing to have that experience outside of a hospital setting.

Joy Hollowell joins us with part one of her special report.
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For 25 years, Christine Yentes has been delivering babies, both in her home and in those of her clients.

The Certified Professional Midwife recently opened a birthing center in Bangor to meet the growing demand of those looking for a back to basics birthing experience.
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"There's the head," says Christine Yentes, massaging the pregnant belly of Meredith Taylor.

In just a few weeks, Taylor is set to give birth to a baby-

"I actually do not know the gender of my baby," she answers with a smile.

But that's the only surprise Taylor and her husband are hoping for with their firstborn. They've taken great steps to ensure their delivery happens with as little medical intervention as possible.

"A large factor in why my husband and I chose to give birth to our child here is our ability to customize our birth and all of our prenatal services," explains Taylor. "We trust the body's process, but we also want to be in a setting that is safe."

Yentes opened Holly No. 7 Birth and Family Health Center in Bangor in December of 2016.

She and her long-time partner for First Light Community Midwifes, Julie Havener, had been delivering babies in homes.

"It came from seeing the change in population of Bangor," Yentes says, explaining her decision to open the birth center. "A lot more young families were moving in. And also the closing of the small hospitals like Lincoln, doesn't do maternity anymore, and neither does Calais and neither does Millinocket."

The name of the business comes from the history of the building.

"This was originally built as a fire station in 1888. It was called the Holly No. 7 Station," explains Yentes. "It was still horses back then, horses would pull a wagon filled with water."

When Yentes was renovating the former fire house, she says hay stored for the horses started floating down from the rafters.

The historical building's close proximity to the hospital helped cement Yentes' choice for the birth center.

"We love hospitals," Yentes says adamantly. "We love them for the care they provide."

"We feel strongly about informed choice," adds Havener. "We make sure the families know about all of the community's standards of care during pregnancy. We don't make the choices. If we have a recommendation because of something we're seeing out of the range of normal, that's a different sort of conversation."

Only healthy women with low risk pregnancies are accepted. Mothers go through extensive health screenings that include ultrasounds and lab work.

"I would just say we do it with low tech equipment," says Yentes.

Creating a warm and comfortable environment is a big part of birth plans here. THere's large tubs for water births and enough room for extended family to participate in the delivery.

"Dads often catch babies," says Havener, "moms catch their own babies. We've had a grandmother...

"help with the catch of a baby," says Yentes, finishing Havener's sentence.

Yentes and Havener also spend time monitoring mom. They help with diet choices, relaxation, and natural pain management, from prenatal through postpartum.

"That relationship, which it's not even taught as a skill, it's really, really an important component to the building of trust and the building of safety for women," says Yentes.

Jillian Sarnacki-Wood started with an ob-gyn for her first child.

"I didn't feel like it was quite the right fit for me," she says.

When she became pregnant again, Sarnacki-Wood contacted Yentes.

"She was so warm and inviting," says Sarnacki-Wood. "And she has this beautiful approach of targeting aches or pains or personal emotion things that you might be feeling."

When it came time to deliver her daughter, Sarnacki-Wood says she felt empowered.

"I felt in control of my body," she says. "I felt in control of my surroundings, and I felt completely safe and nurtured by everyone that was there."

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Yentes and Havener are Certified Professional Midwives, but they are not licensed in Maine, which means health insurance will not fully cover their clients.

That could change in January of 2020, when a new law goes into effect requiring all practicing midwives to be state licensed.
https://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_127th/chapters/PUBLIC502.asp

For more information on Chris Yentes and Julie Havener, you can log onto http://www.firstlightmidwives.com/

You can also visit the Holly No. 7 Birth Center Facebook page.

You can watch part two of this special report, Back to Basics Births online as well.

http://www.firstlightmidwives.com/