Get to Know West Wing Midwife, Dana

woman standing in front of fence wearing scarf
woman standing in front of fence wearing scarf

What path lead you to become a midwife? 

woman holding baby

Toward the end of my Peace Corps service in Zaire, Africa I worked for 3 months with a British Midwife.  This launched my interest in midwifery as it combined my passions for working with women, teaching, holistic health, and the concept of birth as a natural process.  I first became a Licensed Midwife attending homebirths, then desiring a larger scope of practice, and access to a broader population of women and families, I returned to school and received my RN, and then my Masters in midwifery in 2016.

What are your favorite aspects of working and living in Homer and/or about this industry?

woman with baby

I have lived in Homer for 36 years, a random transplant accompanying my boyfriend at the time. It has been my home for the majority of my life and it has been an awesome place to raise a family. I was born and raised in San Francisco and I have always loved and appreciated the sense of community and the interwoven fabric of a small town. I have worked at SPH for 17 years as both an RN and a Midwife and I have valued the connection and the opportunity to care for all the varied and extraordinary members of our community, in all capacities. 

What’s one thing you wish more women were educated on pertaining to their health?

That women are strong and resilient and that with support, respect, education, and confidence we can make the right decisions to improve and sustain our health. 

Tell us one of your most memorable birth stories!

I was working with a midwife in Olympia, Washington and we had a young client that was planning on giving her baby up for adoption and had the confidence and courage to choose a home birth. It was originally supposed to be in her college house with a whole bunch of people, but when labor started she decided to go to the home of a family friend. There was a Christmas tree in the living room and she spent a lot of her labor in a claw-foot bathtub surrounded by candles.  She moved to a futon mattress set in front of a roaring fireplace when it was time to give birth. It was awesome and peaceful and I’ve always admired her commitment, confidence, and courage.

What’s a common misconception you notice or a question you receive about midwifery? 

I feel there are many misconceptions about midwives: our education, training, expertise, and scope of practice.  Additionally, there are different types of midwives and this adds to the confusion as there are different educational pathways, licensure requirements, and scopes of practice. Our culture is and continues to be doctor-centered and most people aren’t aware of our training, education, philosophy, economic sustainability model, and excellent birth outcomes.

Where in the world has your practice taken you? What did you do there?

two women standing next to each other both wearing dresses

While training to be a Licensed Midwife I worked in Washington State, attending home births, then in a hospital in St Lucia, the West Indies. I also worked with a Traditional Birth Attendant and a British Midwife in The Gambia, West Africa attending births at home, in a rural clinic, and at the busy capital hospital. In 2012, on an extended trip with my family, I volunteered at a health clinic in St Louis, Senegal assisting in a freestanding maternity center.   I completed part of my training as a CNM at the native hospital in Anchorage, ANMC.  I have spent the entirety of my nursing career working at SPH.

What’s one fun fact about women’s health (or anything!) that you love to share?

The state of Alaska leads the nation in the number of midwife-attended births AND has the lowest cesarean section rate. This is not a coincidence.