Special Delivery: Why Philly Moms Are Choosing Midwives

In a city brimming with world-class physicians, more and more moms-to-be are choosing midwives. But why?

Mindy Drossner used midwives to deliver Maya, 7, and Brandon, 3.

For Mindy Drossner and her husband, Michael, using a midwife to deliver their two kids was a no-brainer. They liked the homey environment and private suites at Bryn Mawr’s midwife-run Birth Center. Plus, Drossner wanted to give birth sans drugs, and thought that would be easier under the care of a midwife, whose goal is to usher women through delivery epidural-free. “Women have had babies like this forever,” says Drossner, 35. “If they could do it, I could, too.”

Drossner’s part of a growing trend. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, midwives deliver more than eight percent of all babies born in the U.S., an all-time high; in Pennsylvania, it’s 9.1 percent. Cynthia Flynn, executive director of the Birth Center, says her team attended 315 births in 2003 but this year expects that number to rise to 538—a 71 percent uptick. Chester County home-birth midwife Kate Aseron says she reaches her five-births-a-month capacity easily.

So what’s driving this midwife mania? Partly, the Whole Foods effect—a shift to all things natural, holistic, organic. And celebs like Gisele Bündchen and Ricki Lake (see: The Business of Being Born) have pushed midwives to the mainstream.

But a huge motivator, experts say, may be the rising rate of cesarean births, now at about a third of all births nationally. Many women like that midwives are often more willing to let them labor naturally, rather than opt for a C-section if the birth doesn’t progress as quickly as expected. Midwives view childbirth as a natural process the body is equipped to handle on its own—most times without medical intervention.

Still, most maintain good relationships with doctors—some even practice in hospitals, as at the Birthing Suite at Pennsylvania Hospital—in case transfers become necessary. Flynn says her moms are usually admitted to hospitals for slow-progressing labors, not emergencies.

After laboring with her son for 48 hours, Drossner was transferred to Bryn Mawr Hospital, where doctors were prepping to wheel her into surgery. “That was the motivation I needed,” she says. Brandon was born within minutes.

“I was like, Hey, I can do this—and I did,” says Drossner. “It’s very empowering.”

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  • Kara Knauss

    I wouldn’t have traded my experience with Midwifery care for the world! Kate Aseron’s knowledgeable and straight-forward care empowered me to take wonderful care of myself mind, body, and spirit during my pregnancy. And look here, even Philly Mag noticed that more Moms are owning their pregnancies and trusting themselves to birth naturally!

  • http://www.philadelphiadoulaservice.com Heather Busovsky

    Kate Aseron of Rising Moon Midwifery caught two of my three babies! She is skilled, caring and knowledgeable and offers a level of personalized care you would never get from a large, hospital-based practice. I would recommend any pregnant woman in the Greater Philadelphia area seek out her care for their pregnancy and birth. :)

  • Heather Busovsky

    Kate Aseron of Rising Moon Midwifery caught two of my three babies! She is skilled, caring and knowledgeable and offers a level of personalized care you would never get from a large, hospital-based practice. I would recommend any pregnant woman in the Greater Philadelphia area seek out her care for their pregnancy and birth.

  • http://www.ecoincognito.com Jeannette

    My daughter Audrey arrived in August under the care of the midwives from Rising Moon Midwifery. It was a long labor, but we sailed through it at our pace. I have nothing but positive feelings about the experience of giving birth at home and spending the first few days of my daughter’s life with her in the comfort of our own bed. I would recommend having a home birth under the supervision of a midwife to any healthy woman and I will encourage my daughters to chose natural birth when the time comes as well.

  • Beth

    Kate Aseron/ Rising Moon Midwifery helped me deliver my healthy happy 9 lb 4 oz boy at home 2 years ago, and I’m using her again for my second baby again in November. She does an incredible job of tackling issues before they become issues in prenatal care – she uses preventative care, and listens to your choices; I can’t begin to praise this kind of care and Kate enough! Having an intervention-free birth is possible and much easier when going with a homebirth! Labor is not as painful as people would have you believe… it is hard work, but totally worth it. Also, recovering in your own home, your own bed, not having to travel during labor so you can be in any position you want, having birth treated as a natural condition rather than a disease, not having a million wires and tubes attached to you ever during labor, non-invasive techniques for monitoring you and the baby, soooo worth it! Gentle homebirth is the way to go! Creates a much happier and alert baby as well! Couldn’t recommend Kate and going with a homebirth enough for prenatal, the actual labor and delivery, and postpartum care. She is amazing!

  • Sarah

    While I know a lot of local people who gave me blank, startled, or curious stares when I told them that my first baby would be born at home with a CPM (assuming no complicating factors) and that I hadn’t gone to anyone other than my midwife for any of my prenatal, birth, or postpartum care, in other countries it’s not thought of as different at all — in fact, it’s perfectly normal! That’s also true of our country until not that long ago. Trained Midwives are the best – they give personal, knowledgable, and wise care for you and your baby. Doctors and hospitals are great for sick people, but CPMs are the perfect match for most births.

  • E.P.C.

    Kate at Rising Moon Midwifery was there for the delivery of my fourth baby. She was fantastic, knowledgable, calm and respectful. I am so grateful that I found her and that we were able to peacefully bring our fourth baby into the world – in the comfort of our home.

  • http://www.lehighvalleybirthology.com Brooke

    The wonderful care we received with Kate and Jillian, at Rising Moon Midwifery is second to none.