Birthing Choices in Portland

Portland is great, for a number of reasons, right?  It is a great place to bike, be close to nature, shop at farmer’s markets, go paddling, take the bus, run into your friends at the grocery store, AND give birth!  We have a lot of different options in the Portland area, which means all families get to chose what works best for them.

Portland is home to numerous hospitals, a couple free standing birth centers, and many midwives.  So, what is the difference between all these options and what does each options look like for your birth?


Well, the first option is the standard one that most Americans still go to for giving birth, and the majority of Portlanders do too- the hospital.  We have some great hospitals and each one has its own flair.  You could go down the standard American route and see an OB doctor for all your prenatal appointments.  This is a good option for someone who has some high risk factors, like diabetes needing insulin treatment, among other risk factors.  Often the doctor works in a group practice and takes turns being on-call fonewborn in hospital r deliveries.  Some doctors have multiple hospitals they deliver at while other doctors only work at specific hospitals.  Make sure to get to know the doctors in your group practice as well as taking a tour at the hospital that they deliver at.

Another option in the hospital is to work with Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs).   Like an OB practice, CNMs work in a group and you get to see different CNMs in that practice during your pregnancy.  Whoever is on-call during your delivery is the one you’ll get!  CNMs practicing in the hospital setting work under different protocols than homebirth midwives, as they are under the direct supervision of the hospital OBs and their protocols.  Hospital based CNMs are perfect for low risk clients who are most comfortable delivering in a hospital but want a natural birth and/or trying for a lower intervention birth.  The Portland hospitals currently that have CNMs on staff are Providence Portland, OHSU and Legacy Emanuel.  Some of the hospitals allow for laboring in the birthing tubs with the midwives and provide telemetry units that allow movement while still being monitored.  Providence Portland also has a doula program that works with the families that are under the CNM care.

Birth Center

For families that are unsure where they want to give birth, but leaning towards out of hospital, a free standing birth center could be an option.  In Portland there are now 4 birth centers that are not in the hospitals and are staffed by a combination of midwives.   Most of the birth centers are staffed by midwives on rotation, like the hospital CNMs, so you don’t have continuity of care (like with home birth midwives), but many practice differently than the stricter protocols from the hospital.  There are CPMs/LDMs, CNMS, and ND midwives at the area birth centers.  The birth centers are made to resemble more of a home like setting than a sterile hospital environment.  All of them have birthing tubs that you can labor in and at least two of the centers you can stay and birth in them.  This middle ground is great for families that want a natural birth (no epidurals here!) but aren’t ready to commit to a home birth.


And then there are homebirths!  We, of course, love homebirths but completely acknowledge that it’s not the place for all families.  And that is OK!  It’s important to give birth where you are comfortable and where is the safest for your pregnancy, birth, baby, and set of risks.  Homebirths are not for women who are high risk.  But, if a woman is low risk and wanting a natural birth with her loved ones, pets, candles, pillows,  and kids around her then this is her best option!  A home birth is nice because you don’t have to leave your house in labor or get in the car with a tiny, new human being.  You have all your own things and can eat out of your own refrigerator (yes, we want you to eat in labor!).  There aren’t strangers coming into your room while you are in labor.  It also provides the best option for homebirth baby continuity of care and individualized care with midwives.  We bring all the emergency equipment to homebirths along with a whole bag of other supplies.  You also have the option to have an inflatable birthing tub which some women use just for laboring in and others give birth in it.  You have more options in your movement and birthing positions if you are at home.  We also come back to you three times in the first week postpartum, another great reason for a homebirth!  There are a lot of homebirth midwives in Portland so go ahead and interview a couple to find the right fit for you and your family if this is the option that best suits you.

It is important to know there are multiple birthing options and find the best match for you.  Just because your best friend had a homebirth doesn’t mean that’s right for you if you are worried to be out of the hospital.  Or just because your mother in law thinks all babies are born in the hospital doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look into a birth center or homebirth like you’ve been wanting to.  Go ahead, do some research, visit a couple places and talk to a couple providers and the right choice will present itself.

Happy birthing!


Pregnancy Support Group

Come join your very own Portland Natural Birth midwife, Mirra, in connecting with other pregnant mamas once a month!

Pregnancy is such an exciting time but also can have its own challenges along with tons of questions.  “Is this normal?  Am I the only one that thinks that?  What will life be like once the baby is born?  Do I have all the essentials?  What do I need?  Was that the baby kicking or something else?!”

You aren’t the only one with all those questions!  Come to Doula Love to be supported by other pregnant mamas and meet a couple friends along the way!

When: The fourth Saturday of every month from 1:00pm to 2:30pm
Location: 5433 NE 30th Ave Portland, OR 97211

What is a Natural Birth?

Birth is more complex than a one-word label and our perspective encompasses all different aspects of what it can mean. We believe the term natural birth can take on many different meanings for different families.  At Portland Natural Birth, our goal is to include all Portland families desiring midwifery and home birth care, placenta encapsulation and prenatal and postpartum bodywork.

We support your right to:

Choose the kind of care that suits you best

Have full access to the information you need

Enjoy a team of supportive providers beside you

Feel a part of your care, empowered with choices

Above all, we believe natural birth means being supported, informed, empowered, and cared for in all of your options and throughout your entire process, no matter what your birth looks like.


What inspires you? What inspires you to choose a home birth or to be the kind of parent you strive to be?

A professional friend challenged me to ask myself this qIMG_5054uestion- what inspires me?

At first, it can be a quick answer.  I am completely inspired by nature.  I love hiking.  I especially love hiking places that you can’t drive to.  I feel at peace staring out at a mountain top, or even better hiking to the summit of a mountain top.

But, if we all stop to really think about this question- what inspires me?-  the answer is often deeper and pretty remarkable.

So, what inspires me, as a midwife, as a mama, as a human being on this planet?

I am inspired daily by working alongside all of you! I’m reminded daily about the strength women have inside them, whether they are consciously aware of it or not.  When I witness, first hand, a new mama reach into the depths of her being to birth her baby, a baby she hasn’t physically met yet but has deeply known for 40 weeks, I am inspired.  I am amazed when she says “I can’t do it” but continues on.

I’m inspired by seeing families, of all different backgrounds, coming together to support the birth of their new baby- whatever that means to them. And I’m inspired to be included on this amazing, and sometimes crazy, journey to growing your family!  To be present when the family gazes upon this new being, skin shiny and wet with fluid, eyes open with curiosity about this new world is pretty remarkable.  I’m inspired when I see the mama envelope this new being, a baby that her body so carefully and perfectly created, with raw and intense love.  It’s quite the feat to let yourself be cracked open by this love for another human being.   

Working with so many different homebirth families, inspires me to bring patience and love back to my own family.  It inspires me to continue seeing the beauty in the everyday events.  Because even as remarkable as it is, birt11170314_10205926249489919_5630618504491595071_nh is an everyday event.  As a midwife, I am in awe of birth and the human body.  It inspires me to continue talking about how amazing our bodies are with my own children- building up their confidence, strength and inner-beauty.  So, thank you to all the strong and amazing women and families I have and will have the chance to work with!  You inspire me!

Upcoming Pelvic Floor Workshop with Kelley!

kelley burke pelvic floor specialistHey mamas! In light of my pelvic floor workshop coming up this month, I’m sharing a little article with you about pain and sex today. There are a couple decent suggestions here (my advice is to NOT do #3!). But really, I just want to open the conversation about sex after baby. Many mamas are really surprised after they leave midwifery or OB care at 6-8 weeks that they still don’t feel ready to connect with their partner sexually. Regardless of what kind of birth you had (or even if you’ve never been pregnant) your pelvic floor can have a range of sensations from heavy, bruised, stingy, too tight, lacking tone, pulling pain, dull pain, sharp pain or even a lack of sensation at all. Yes, these are all normal to feel after what your body has gone through but this is NOT your “New Normal”.
What IS your new normal is the self care practices you build into your day that lead to your recovery, and long term pelvic floor health and connection.

My monthly pelvic floor workshop is on Monday, December 14th. I want to hear what you are all going through and share some ways you cpelvis pregnantan move towards recovery, comfort and care for yourself while you take care of your baby.

The class is from 10 am to 12 pm at Doula Love (5433 NE 30th Ave) and babies are most welcome.


Register Here!