Many women and families consider giving birth to be one of the most important moments of their lives. To assist in this journey, Trillium Midwifery Services has opened a whole new door to birthing.
At 1201 S. Beaumont Street in Prairie du Chien, you’ll find the Trillium Midwifery Birth Center. An inconspicuous tan building in quiet neighborhood opens up to a warm and welcoming home-like setting for families seeking an alternative to hospital birth.
Heather Kramer and Alison Peralta are the midwives guiding women and families through the birth process at home and at the birth center.
Kramer is a mother of 10, who has birthed her children in a variety of settings from hospital to home with both doctors and midwives. Kramer started her career working as a registered nurse in an OB department at a local hospital. It was here that Kramer helped bring into the world approximately 200 babies.
Not feeling like a hospital setting was a perfect fit for her, Kramer made the decision to pursue midwifery.
“I really liked midwifery and like way it normalized birth,” Kramer explained.
Kramer completed her formal midwifery training in the Direct-Entry Midwifery Program at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College in December of 2014. Prior to that, Kramer fulfilled her hands-on preparation by attending over 60 births in central Wisconsin with various midwives. She completed the national midwifery board exam in January of 2014 and is a certified professional midwife by the North American Registry of Midwives.
Kramer also holds current training and certificates in birth emergency skills; advance life support in obstetrics, labor support, breastfeeding education and childbirth education, neonatal resuscitation, CPR, and a variety of other advanced emergency medical certifications.
Most recently, Kramer joined the faculty as a Midwife Clinical Site Coordinator in the Direct Entry Midwifery Program at Southwest Tech in Fennimore.
Alison Peralta is a mother of three whose journey to becoming a midwife began after a big surprise.
“My first birth was early, at home by mistake, and alone,” Peralta recalled. “It greatly opened my eyes to birthing.”
Peralta’s second birth was in a hospital with a Certified Nurse Midwife and third at home with the two midwives she was apprenticing with at the time.
In 2012, Peralta enrolled in the Direct-Entry Midwifery Program offered by Southwest Tech. She graduated summa cum laude in May of 2014 and continued to attend births as an assistant with the midwives in her area. In August of that year, she sat for her North American Registry of Midwives national board exam to receive her certification.
Peralta maintains current certification in Neonatal Resuscitation and CPR, as well as training as a doula, in Birth Emergency Skills Training and fetal monitoring.
“It was always in our plan, it was just our five-year plan,” was how Peralta described the birth of the center. “Various doors opened up to speed up the process and here we are.”
Walking into the building, you are greeted by a comfortable seating area, complete with an inviting sofa and relaxed green chairs. Bookshelves with various herbs, vitamins and more, as well as books and teaching tools for the expectant families flank either side of the corridor. A modern clean and simple exam room is located here as well.
As you continue along the corridor, the room opens up to another area, which, when there are no births scheduled, is where the midwives host ReThink Groups.
To finish the tour, you find yourself back where the action takes place. A large soft bed is the centerpiece of the cozy room. Well designed and comfortable, it evokes the desired feelings of a home like setting. The birth center is also equipped with a large tub and stand up shower to facilitate water births as well. A pullout couch, glider rocker and kitchen area offers more home like amenities for fathers and other family members, who participate in the birthing journey.
One of the biggest pulls to birthing in the center for some may be its proximity to the hospital, just a mere 10 minutes away. This opens up the option of an out-of-hospital birth for some rural residents.
“We have had two births here so far, and about half of our women are interested in birthing here,” Peralta said. “A big pull is for the individual who may not want to birth in a hospital, but also may not want to be at home, those clients can come here.”
Both Peralta and Kramer emphasize that the choice of where to birth is a special decision reserved for a woman and her support team.
“Our goal is not to convince people to come here,” Peralta said. “Ultimately, we want a desire to be here and a trust in the choices and recommendations. What we would say is yes, this is a safe option if your pregnancy is low risk, an emergency plan is in place and you are birthing with a trained person. With those three things, birthing out of the hospital is a safe option.”
During the visits, the midwives conduct normal prenatal care as well as post partum care, childbirth classes and breast-feeding support. Following the birth, families are only required to stay a minimum of two hours at the center, however four hours is the general time frame. The midwives follow up on the new baby and mom during the first three days at home and then at the center in two weeks. General newborn screening is conducted during the first 24 hours, as well as a general physical for the baby and checking in on mom.
Another draw of Trillium is the time the midwives are able to spend with their clients.
“When people come here they want something alterative or they want a homey atmosphere. Sometimes, it’s the whole package. We encourage people to check out their options. We are not opposed to sending people to the hospital if the situation calls for it,” Kramer said.
“We are able to spend at least an hour each visit with our clients and really get to know them,” the midwife explained. “We are allowed that extra time that hospital providers are not. And it isn’t that they don’t want to, they just don’t have the time. We spend a lot of time with people letting them know their options.”
Fathers may also find they have a different and more rewarding experience.
“Often fathers are more on the fence (about a out-of-hospital birth) and they come in and see the facility and they are reassured. They find out that we have very specific training and we carry our little portable hospital to every birth,” noted Peralta. She also observed that many fathers report having feelings of deeper involvement during an out-of-hospital birth than births in hospitals.
Some may be hesitant thinking that home birth is a foreign culture. When in fact, it used to be the norm. Many women of the older generation can remember when they birthed at home or out of a hospital. Today it is still open to anyone willing to try.
“We talk to people who come in to explore their options and meet us and they realize that we’re just normal people. I’ve even had people say, ‘I don’t want this to be offensive, but I am surprised at how normal you are, you’re just like me’,” Kramer recalled with a chuckle.
Cost is another factor for many who choose an out-of-hospital birth. Trillium works with individuals to determine a payment schedule that is fair and attainable. The Trillium Midwifery Birth Center offers fees based on a sliding scale, anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000. They are able to discuss these options during a free consultation visit. Some insurance companies can also be billed. As of January 1, 2017, Badger Care will cover the cost as well.
When not hosting expectant parents or births, the Birth Center is opened up for like-minded individuals to discuss and learn a variety of topics. Some of those topics have included cleanses, breastfeeding and pumping, herbs and the upcoming group on cloth diapering.
“It’s going to be hosted by a local lady who has cloth diapered all of her children and we invited her to come and talk about what has worked for her, and others can bring in what works for them and hopefully everyone can learn something new,” Kramer said.
The ReThink…Cloth Diapering discussion will be held at the birth center on Friday, Jan. 27 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. There is no cost for joining the discussion.
Trillium also offers their midwifery services in the home setting. The team serves families in a roughly 50-mile radius from Prairie du Chien. The birth center is open by appointment. More information can be found at www.trilliummidwiferyservices.com. Individuals can also search Trillium Midwifery services on Facebook. You can contact the midwives via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give them a call at 608-379-3099.