The Farm has really become a staple of the greater birth community, not only as a safe haven that honors and supports normal physiological birth, but as one that is willing to learn from and collaborate with the medical community at large so that birthing women can receive the best possible care. For example, a new policy was recently passed that requires an oxygen saturation test be performed at the time of the newborn screening to help prevent against congenital heart disease. In the past, newborn screenings were performed by the midwives, but the saturation tests were not. So, local doctors actually invited the midwives to attend hospital trainings so that they were able to perform this test at The Farm. Additionally, The Farm receives infant resuscitation trainings from a local nurse, who also started an Angel Ambulance (like a NICU on wheels) that would come to The Farm (and other outlying areas) in the rare case a baby was in need so she could be treated while en route to the nearest hospital. And, to even better build relations and trust, Deborah shared that she will sometimes go with a client to her doctor's appointment so that she can meet him or her face to face. At times she'll even bring her resume to show them her license, experience, training and expertise.
The midwives at The Farm have been instrumental in changing birth policies in their community and beyond. CPMs (Certified Professional Midwives) are now legally able to practice with licensure in Tennessee thanks in large part to Midwife Carol Nelson. (In some states only CNMs, Certified Nurse Midwifes, can practice.) Last year, they hosted a group of doctors, nurses and midwives from Alabama (where CPMs can't legally practice) so that they could learn more about how legalized midwifery works and to create a greater conversation and collaboration around working together. And, at a nearby hospital, the midwives recently helped to make small doses of Pitocin available for VBAC patients.
So, it's no wonder that women are still coming from all over the world to birth at The Farm. Most recently, two women from Turkey come to give birth. One came because her doctor in Istanbul had a 90% cesarean rate and promised her she'd never be able to give birth vaginally because her baby was too big according to the ultrasound (She gave birth vaginally just fine and the baby weighed only 6lb 14 oz). They also had a woman from Senegal come (she came for all three of her babies) because at her very first prenatal her doctor told her she was going to need surgery. She too gave birth vaginally.
So what's next for The Farm? Training more midwives! In collaboration with The College of Traditional Midwifery, they have just launched a Competency Based Midwifery Education Program for aspiring midwives who want to become Certified Professional Midwives. Their first class of students started this month!
And, don't forget to rent our past interview with Ina May Gaskin, the founder of The Farm!