Celebrating the Women at Los Angeles’ First Accredited Birthing Center
GraceFull Birthing is based in Silver Lake, CA (I happen to pass it every day on my morning run) and is LA’s first accredited Birthing Center, offering holistic services for birthing, healing and parenting.
The center is staffed with three midwives, including Elizabeth, and offers a range of services in addition to prenatal, home birth and birth center births, such as chiropractic care, lactation consultations, well women care, and placenta preparation. They also offer comprehensive insurance billing to help their clients navigate the bureaucratic insurance system.
Originally, Elizabeth thought I was a student midwife and invited me to come follow her practice. However, she later learned that as much as I wish I was pursuing midwifery, I instead prefer to listen to midwives’ stories and document their work. That’s when Elizabeth invited me to come in and meet with some of the women and families benefitting from the center.
Here are the women I met that day:
Los Feliz, CA: Jonathan and Alyx Rossetti with Olive (1 week old). Jonathan and Alyx learned about GraceFull Birthing through friends who had a positive experience with the midwives. The couple felt their experience was very special and sacred, mainly because of how they were able to occupy the birthing space. It was a comfortable, home-like environment, where they had a wonderful one-on-one experience. Both mom and dad felt present and involved, as well as empowered and prepared, as much as they could be. Alyx also noted that if she’d delivered in a hospital, it would have been harder to avoid a medicated birth. At GraceFull they were able to create the environment they wanted, labor in the bathtub, and feel supported all the way through. Had they chosen a hospital birth, their insurance would have dictated which hospital they would deliver at.
Silver Lake, CA: Ayesha, 9 months pregnant. Ayesha is a single mom and at the time was in her 8th month of pregnancy. She found GraceFull on Yelp after searching for birth centers that could provide a more organic birth experience and allow her to experience that “super woman feeling” of birth. Originally from the east coast, Ayesha moved to LA to attend grad school and ended up staying and now works in non-profit. Her mother flew out from Maryland to spend these past couple weeks with her for the delivery. Ayesha says that so far it has been a fairly easy pregnancy. She has continued to hike and exercise throughout and even recently ran a 5K. Ayesha is grateful for her GraceFull midwife, who she considers a role model. Jennifer provides well woman care with a focus on nutrition, and provides emotional support and encouragement on how Ayesha will be a strong mom for her child. Having come from a military family, Ayesha is an extremely time-oriented person. Her goal is to release from that control and surrender to the birth.
Eagle Rock, CA: Alyssa and Brynn with Orion (1 year old). Alissa and Bryn are a writer and an actor. They decided at 36 weeks to switch from a hospital birth to a home birth. Bryn had been hesitant to make that switch due to a personal trauma, but after taking a childbirth education class at GraceFull, they both decided a home birth was right for them. They thought that if they gave birth at a hospital, then certain choices would be taken out of their hands. They interviewed several midwives and birth centers, but ultimately felt GraceFull’s midwives were the right fit and energy. They also felt that they could share their fears and concerns without feeling judged.
The best part of their home birth was being in the comfort of their own home, while also having access to hospitals close by. Bryn felt she could participate and be fully part of the experience.
Glendale, CA: Osvaldo and Kat with Arsenal and Mixley (2 years and 6 months). Osvaldo, originally from Chicago, and Kat, originally from Vermont, met at a local Starbucks and fell in love. For their first child, they planned to birth at a nearby hospital but later learned of the high possibility of having a medicated birth. It wasn’t until learning from their friends who had delivered with Elizabeth that a home birth became an option. They felt an immediate click and loved the passion and confidence Elizabeth presented. At GraceFull, they were able to feel prepared for birth (as much as they could be) and how to make it a more personal experience and a journey they would enjoy. Being unified as a family was extremely important to them and they felt a stronger bond after going through the experience of birth together.
Mixley, despite sleeping through her brother’s birth, woke up in time to cut the umbilical chord.
To learn more about how midwives and birth centers can improve maternal health outcomes in America, visit Every Mother Counts and watch our three part film series Giving Birth in America.
*Photos by Clancy McCarty