Midwives Provide Alternative to Traditional Birthing; Columbia Herald Article Written 1998

By Melissa Hodge Beard, Staff Writer

Vickie Lee is among a growing number of women choosing to give birth at home, rather than in a hospital.

Lee is the proud mother of three-week-old Isaac (10 pounds and 8 oz.), Noah, 3, Naomi, 5, and Darcie, 2.

Lee, a Columbia resident, said she wanted to find a Christian midwife who felt it was important to have the least amount of intervention as possible. She said she wanted to deliver her baby in the comfort of her own home, where her beliefs and wishes would be honored.

Lee said a midwife is able to take hours of time with patients while a doctors time is usually limited.

“It was wonderful to know my pregnancy would go the way it would go,” Lee said. “In many ways, this was the most fulfilling of my four deliveries. It was very intense, but it was the most relaxed delivery of the four. This was what I felt a birth was meant to be.”

Midwife Mary Anne Richardson aided Lee in the delivery. She was Richardson’s first client. She recently completed a Certified Professional Midwife process.

Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) gain their midwifery education through a variety of routes. In addition to apprenticing with a Tennessee midwife, Richardson attended midwifery schools; The Tennessee Birthplace Midwifery School in Gallatin, and Miami International Midwifery School. Part of her training included Working in the Victorian Jubilee Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica and working with an obstetrician-gynecologist in Carthage.

The North American Registry of Midwives (NARM), which certifies CPM’s, is an international body, which evaluates and validates midwifery knowledge, and experience using three components.

The application process validates experience.

The written examination is a test of the knowledge and skill required of a competent midwife.

The skills assessment is a hands-on evaluation of essential midwifery skills by a qualified evaluator.

Earlier this year the state Department of Health promulgated new Birth Center rules and regulations to define CPM as a qualified care provider for birth.

Richardson is a member of the Tennessee Midwives Association (TMA) and acts as the group’s representative. She lobbies on Capital Hill driving legislation.

“It is my vision that someday midwives in the State of Tennessee will be licensed and mothers and their babies will be protected,” Richardson said. Currently anyone they call themselves a midwife, regardless of the training.”

Richardson has assisted in the births of 75 babies. She is the founder Tender Beginnings Birth Services and she plans to serve middle Tennessee area.

Richardson plans to use her new business to offer inexpensive, safe, comprehensive care for expected mothers and their families.

Richardson has also completed a required course by DONA to become a certified Doula. A doula is a support system for a mother to be in labor. She is certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association in the field of neonatal resuscitation, adult, child and infant CPR.

Richardson is married and has three children and two grandchildren.