A natural transition: Mariposa Birth and Wellness provides support for women, families | TheUnion.com

A natural transition: Mariposa Birth and Wellness provides support for women, families

With the opening of Mariposa Birth and Wellness Center, Nevada County is welcoming the first birthing center of its kind in the area.

Allison Blackham and her fellow midwives at Mariposa Birth and Wellness say their goal is to make a mother's choice easier and to support her in whatever birth method she chooses.

In their renovated home location on Zion Street in Nevada City, Blackham and staff will strive to provide holistic, evidence-based care to all healthy, low risk pregnancies and birthing families.

"Hospital birth is based on the medical model of care, which is looking for something to go wrong," said Blackham, a nurse for 30 years and licentiate in midwifery and certified nurse-midwife. "It's not a bad way to give birth, and thank goodness for doctors and surgeries and antibiotics and all the things that we need.

"The midwifery model of care is based on the normal physical event that does best when allowed to proceed normally without being interfered with. The more we mess with it, the more we can send it in the wrong direction."

Mariposa welcomed its first delivery on Aug. 24, and Blackham said in an ideal situation the expectant mother would become a patient of the center as early in her pregnancy as possible.

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A large part of successfully guiding a mother through her delivery, she said, is building a sense of familiarity and trust.

Mariposa seeks to build relationships with medical staff at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital as well. She said about one of every 10-to-15 non-hospital births end up requiring intervention from a medical center, so it's important to make sure all avenues for a healthy delivery are available in case of an emergency.

"We do have practice guidelines that we follow," said Blackham. "The state of California sets a standard of practice, so we are licensed and we take the same board examination of a certified nurse midwife. We follow those standards of practice but we also develop practice guidelines for this practice."

In a birthing center such as Mariposa, Blackham said the utmost consideration is given to the expecting family. Mariposa offers new and carefully selected furnishings in its two birthing rooms, while allowing birthing mothers access to the entire house.

Birthing tubs are available and an expansive deck looks out the back of the property into the trees and nature.

Medical and holistic tools share space in well-contained cabinets, all in an attempt to make necessities convenient while making mom and family feel they are in a cozy space.

"I want to welcome the community to this space," said Blackham, "to be able to have healthy, happy, normal births and to be able to feel nurtured and cared for. I would like it to be a community space for mothers and babies and not just restricting it to a birth center but a community space.

"Birth is normal and healthy and wonderful and we celebrate that with people."

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.

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