“It’s not that birth is easy…it’s that women are strong!” After 15 years of serving our community, this is what Laura Roe has learned. Laura Roe is a certified professional home birth midwife serving Ashland and Southern Oregon.
She has had the honor of working with hundreds of mothers and families in welcoming their babies into our community. Laura views birth, and the process of labor, as a normal, potentially transformative experience for women. She brings with her an approach of trust, patience, and wisdom.
She believes that pregnancy , labor and birth are a woman’s birthrite. Laura believes that everyone plays an important role in supporting the birthing process and has a unique ability to weave together, and attend to all aspects of the childbearing year; from the physical needs of health, nutrition and exercise, to the spiritual changes, as well as the emotional and psychological issues that often arise during this time of hugs change and growth. As a midwife she creates a supportive and safe environment for all to welcome the new child into this new family. All members will be changed by the newest addition, and all need the support so the transition goes even better than well….That it is wonderful.She sees how it is not just a child that is being born, but a new shape to the entire family. I have had the pleasure of a being able to work with and spend time with Laura on several occasions and view her as a treasure to our community. She is an individual who has gone above and beyond to touch and shape the lives of so many of our friends, neighbors and of course mothers and children.
She believes that pregnancy, labor and birth are a woman’s birthright. Laura believes that everyone plays an important role in supporting the birthing process and has a unique ability to weave together, and attend to all aspects of the childbearing year; from the physical needs of health, nutrition and exercise, to the spiritual changes, as well as the emotional and psychological issues that often arise during this time of hugs, change, and growth. As a midwife she creates a supportive and safe environment for all to welcome the new child into this new family. All members will be changed by the newest addition, and all need the support so the transition goes even better than well; that it is wonderful. She sees how it is not just a child that is being born, but a new shape to the entire family. I have had the pleasure of a being able to work with and spend time with Laura on several occasions and view her as a treasure to our community. She is an individual who has gone above and beyond to touch and shape the lives of so many of our friends, neighbors and of course, mothers and children.
Thank you. It is an honor to be speaking with you, and to serve our community.
Laura, can you please give us a little introduction to your practice, philosophy and background?
Community Midwifery Care is a homebirth practice, serving Ashland and the surrounding areas. At the current time, I have the honor of working with Lisa Afshar and Cara Frantz. We provide complete prenatal care, attend your labor and birth, and then stay on for well baby and mama care. We believe that pregnancy, labor and birth are one of the most normal and natural processes in a woman’s life. We believe that it is a unique, powerful and transformative time in a woman’s life. It is an opportunity for a woman to embrace a part of herself that is not often seen by herself or others; a part that holds great strength and great power; great softness and great vulnerability.
It is a time for a woman to reach to her inner resources as well as her outer community. It is a time for her to learn that she is so much more than she had though. It is an opportunity to become even more of who she is.
You view birth and the birthing process as a normal event in a women’s life, please talk to us about this.
Indeed…it is our birthright. As women, we have the inborn ability to carry, bring forth, and nourish new life. We take great joy in reminding women of their own innate connection to life and birth, so easily forgotten in our culture. We say in this culture, because in so many other cultures there is a greater understanding and honoring of different stages of life; from maiden to mother to crone. Pregnancy and the childbearing year are an amazing time in a woman’s life to honor our special gifts of fertility, birth and nourishment whether a woman chooses to have one or two, three or even more children. In the span of life, this is a limited numberof opportunities to truly experience what this life has to offer. It is our intention to support and nurture a woman so she can understand, feel supported and nourished, and then be able to offer her child and family support and nourishment feeling full and whole.
On the opposite spectrum there also exist many extreme points of view on birth. Often times these can create expectations for women that create unneeded pressures. Can you please talk more about this?
It is my belief that it is an incredible experience, a unique opportunity, a sacred time, to bring forth life….whether a woman has this opportunity once, twice, or even three time. It is part of our unique identities to bring forth new life. To birth a baby is a way to learn something about ourselves that is only seen in this venue. It is the miracle of life, coming through, and, THAT is powerful. How each baby/mama unit dance to be born is their unique and wonderful journey. It is to be discovered through the magic of the unknown. There are many that speak of birth as a fearful experience, one that needs huge medical intervention.
There are others that speak of it as a potentially orgasmic experience. It is as though there is a hierarchy of what experiences, of what birth looks like; a story where some are better than others. I say that it is birth that is wonderful. If each woman truly knows her options, and chooses them according to what she believes is best for herself and her unborn child, then it is wonderful…that is just perfect for this duo!
Giving birth is an opportunity to make a transformational journey. Every journey begins wherever you are. If every woman makes a choice of where or how to give birth from the authentic estimation of her own needs, then her birth will offer her opportunities to learn and grow. There is no one right way to have a baby. However, if a woman believes in birth as a natural process, she will find the nurture and support for this choice in our practice. We have no expectation that homebirth is the right choice for everyone, and every woman will have different needs at her birth. We believe that when a woman is supported, and held in great respect and trust, she will and already does have the inner resources to show up to her unique birth with whatever strengths will be called on for her to show.
When I work with a mother, we start by seeing where SHE is at; what is her life about now, and how she sees this child potentially changing and shifting. When new life is present, there is a sense of hope, of dreaming for the potential of the unborn. It is this unborn dream and hope that we work with. How can we birth those dreams; those hopes?
Each birth is unique. We spend a lot of time during the prenatal period listening to and nurturing each woman’s vision of labor and birth. At the labor, we stand ready to play our part in that vision. For instance, some women want to have private, intimate time with their partner and minimal interference from a midwife. Other women want to have more direct support from us — help with breathing, relaxing between contractions, staying present when contractions are intense, suggestions for pain management, and just simple reassurance that everything is OK. We work hard to keep our own center so we can best respond to each mama in her journey. We monitor the baby throughout and encourage position changes, movement, the birth tub or even rest, if that is appropriate. We respond as each moment unfolds — there is no script.
Talk about your role of supporting women in owning their own birthing process. What does this look like to you?
As a midwife, I see my job as an educator. It is my responsibility to provide a mom with all the options available to her at any decision making point. It is my commitment to support a mom to choose what is right for her, not what is right for me, or for my family, but for her, and her family. I believe it is about getting my personal ideas and biases out of the way. Whatever her experience is, it is her own. I believe that there is no right or wrong birth; that it is a unique experience for mother and child and that being free from internal and external expectation is important.
Birth has the opportunity for a woman to learn to trust herself; to see herself as strong and powerful; to know that it is her voice that needs to be spoken. It is her power that can and will birth her baby. People come to me who want to sink into the opportunity that pregnancy offers. It can be a time of deep self reflection; of where they are and where they want to be. Sometimes this is physical, sometimes emotional. Sometimes it is about exploring old family wounds, and sometimes about current relationships. This becomes an intimate relationship; one of profound trust. For a woman to open herself to birth, she learns she must need to trust herself. It is here where we birth our babies.
Laura, midwifes often have many tricks in their tool box. Please talk to us about some skills and personal experiences you bring to the table to help mothers in achieving healthy births.
Midwifery is a change of career for me. I bring a background in counseling as well as education to this work. It is a whole person that shows up to birth her baby, and we show up as we are in all of our strengths and our foibles; our light as well as dark side. All the issues that are always present will still be present on the day your baby will be born. If there is anything that needs to be cleared, why not do it ahead of time? This way there is a clearer path, a smoother transition to walk through to meet your child. It is the whole person we need to address in the prenatal period. If there are stressful sitations in the family, unresolved previous issues, even previous challenging birth experiences, all this needs to go into the care. We talk, we laugh, we cry, we process, we grow intimate.
After the baby is born, your job is not finished. Please talk to us about how your role as the midwife continues.
After a baby is born, I have the honor of staying involved with the integration of this new life into the growing family. I am involved for the first six weeks of life as everybody in the family grows and shifts and makes way for this new presence. Each new life means a new identity for each family member. A baby is born, as is a mother and a father; sometimes a big brother or a big sister. This is a change for everyone. I have the honor of continuing to support this transition. After walking through this profound journey together, there is a deep and profound connection that I will always have with a family. For some, it is bumping into them at the co-op, and seeing this beautiful growing life. In our lovely small town, it is watching this child grow through the years. For some, the relationship continues and I have the profound honor of walking through other life events with them.
Tell us more about your love for midwifery.
One of the things that I love about midwifery is that I have the honor of being invited into a very personal relationship with a woman, her unborn child, and the family around her. It is an intimate, sacred time; a time of hopes AND fears, of dreams and concerns. It is a time when much comes up in a woman’s heart and soul and mind and this space is shared. We form a profound and unique relationship. It is one of friendship and healthcare provider, of sharing intimate thoughts, feelings and concerns both physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is a time when I see the true core of a woman’s being; her strength that she herself may not have seen before. It is a time of no masks, of revealing the authentic self. Midwifery means with woman. In so doing, I have the honor of working with a woman to become more of who she wants to be. What a total gift.
Midwives and midwifery is a treasure to the community of Southern Oregon. Please talk about this precious experience you have been able to participate in and steward for future generations. What are your hopes for all women to come?
What a great question. My hope is that all women, no matter what ethnic or socio-economic background she comes from, will have equal access to all options for her birth, be it hospital, birth center, home or unassisted. It is my hope that all women will be educated and truly informed about all of the choices available to her during her pregnancy, labor, birth and immediate postpartum. I hope that with this education, she may make the right choice for herself and her unborn child to the best of her ability. My hope is that with true education and knowledge of options available, and equal access to all options, a woman will feel empowered and transformed by this incredible opportunity of birthing her child; that through this beautiful experience, she will raise her child with the greatest of intentions and this child will know that s/he is deeply and unconditionally loved. From this place, our world will inevitably move closer to a more peaceful planet.
Laura, please tell us about your team and partnership with midwife Lisa Afshar.
Lisa has joined the practice after working as a midwife in Denver for many years. One of the gifts she offers is Maya Therapy which alleviates many discomforts of pregnancy and enhances bonding between mom and baby. Clients have really enjoyed receiving this work and doing their self care at home. Maya Therapy helps center and lift the uterus and encourages optimal fetal positioning. In addition to midwifery, Lisa is also involved in the community — she has both adult children and a young child who keep her engaged and participating in the Ashland culture. Her unique talents compliment my own.
What are the next steps someone can take in learn more?
I encourage them to visit my website, or give me a call to set up an interview. I love to meet people even when the next child is even a glimmer in their eye and heart. I offer an initial free consultation to be together, ask questions and see if it is a good match. One of the unique qualities of a midwifery relationship is that we spend a lot of time together, we explore extremely intimate spaces together, and there is an important element of truly liking and respecting each other that needs to be part of the initial seeds to begin this profound relationship. Please feel free to call me to arrange your free consult.
Community Midwifery Care