Alternate birthing options expand in West Michigan

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WEST MICHIGAN. --The choice of alternate birthing options for mothers in West Michigan is expanding with two birthing centers recently popping up in the greater Grand Rapids area.

Local midwives say the need is there and it’s why they are working to bring choices to women in the area.

Midwives have always been around and according to the CDC; out-of-hospital births have been increasing since 2004 and only continue to rise. Its a need local midwives say they are seeing first hand, with their calendars already filling up.

From the outside it looks like just a house but at 915 Cherry St. in the East Hills neighborhood, it’s the first of its kind for the area, a birthing center.

Sara Badger who has been a midwife for years started Cedar Tree Birth and Wellness Center, equipped with a full apartment and a natural feel.

“There were very limited options, we had some really great hospitals but had an underground home birth community and didn’t really have any birth centers at all,” she said.

Located only miles away from the hospital Badger said its just what some are looking for. "Some people are too far away and not really good candidates for home birth because they live so far away that if we had emergency this gives them a middle place."

They just officially opened up this month and Badger says they already have one birth a month scheduled and a lot more interest.

Just about 30 miles north in Greenville, Certified Nurse Midwife Leslie Cornwell is putting the final touches on Midwifery Matters. “Just that happy balance between the medical and the natural mindset,” she said.

Her birthing center again just a few blocks away from the local hospital but equipped with custom made birthing Jacuzzi tubs. “I always felt in west Michigan home birth midwives were always busy, busy and the demand is there so many woman would say I want a home like environment that’s not quite home.”

Of course discussions of midwives and out-of-hospital birthing doesn’t come without controversy, as regulation and oversight is scarce. In the past there has been proposed legislation to license certified professional midwives.

“I'm the first one to say all right you’ve stepped outside of our abilities we need to go somewhere else,” said Badger.

“Most women are normal and healthy they need to know they have choices and these are their options. I am not trying to push somebody that’s high risk to choose this option,” said Cornwell.

'Midwifery Matters' will be holding a grand opening on Saturday as they get ready to officially open their doors.

For more information:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


  • Emma

    Sara has been very vocal against regulation! She’s very much against it, makes you wonder! She is not well respected by everyone in the community, there are many who worry about her unethical and unsafe practices.

    • "Negative Nancy" aka Realist

      Focusing on the negative may keep you ALIVE. Birth is not all flowers and hearts all the time. Sometimes it’s really dangerous, sometimes it’s long and exhausting. As a pregnant mother, you should be able to know that your provider is going to be able to help you, should an emergency arise, or should you need pain management. These birth centers can’t do either.

    • Sara Snyder

      What?!? Did you really just suggest that we ignore unsafe and unethical practices? These are lives at stake. If babies have been injured or died in her care, those families shouldn’t be ignored. Absolutely not. Unsafe and unethical is never okay, and yes should be made very clear to the public.

  • Linda

    If women want to make informed choices about their place of birth and their provider they need to know the risks and possible dangers those choices entail. Safer Midwifery for Michigan is correct that Michigan needs to regulate freestanding birth centers and midwives. None of the evidence that we know correlates to safe birth is in place as these 2 birth centers set to open. And, if EMMA is correct, at least one of the midwives doesn’t want the oversight that we know leads to a safer birth.

    • Emma

      Its encouraging that the other midwife’s website says she’s associated with the American Association of Birth Centers and American College of Nurse Midwives. I imagine she probably holds herself to regulations even though there’s none in Michigan. Good to know. I’ll have to check out the Safer Midwifery for Michigan site next, I haven’t seen it.

      • Sara Snyder

        Hi Emma. I’d love to invite you to read the comment I left below for Leslie about why AABC certification is a start, but in no way provides for safety without all the other provisions that matter. An AABC certified birth center still has no insurance requirement, no integration with a hospital, and murky risking out practices. A birth center may claim they didn’t know a baby was breech, or transfer the mom to “home birth” instead instead of truly risking them out. There is still no MI oversight for “freestanding centers”, certified or not. I commend AABC for attempting to have some standards, but it’s not really doing much to improve overall safety. If the state would build on their efforts and do some responsible regulation, then we’d be getting somewhere for everyone.

    • leslie cornwell

      I invite you to stop by Midwifery Matters. Please see both centers first hand before making assumptions the standard of care they are set up to. Even though Michigan has no birth center regulations, I set this birth center up to national standards of care created by American Birth Center Association. As being a Certified Nurse Midwife, I am state licensed and regulated under the Board of Nursing. The website, Safer Midwifery for Michigan, has some good points and my plans are to get standardized regulations in Michigan for midwifery and birth centers. I do cautious visiting sites that are evidenced based and not a blog that a woman created after losing her child to a birth center delivery. I have attempted to add comments with references to her website to help families see more information about midwifery and birth centers. I would recommend visiting Evidence Based Birth, American Birth Center Association, or American College of Nurse Midwives for credible sources. I want consumers to be safe and know their options.

      • Jen

        Obviously you’re heavily biased, being the owner of the business in question. The fact that the state of Michigan does NOT currently regulate birth centers that are NOT hospital affiliated should be a mother’s first concern. The second, for me, would be WHY does such a place exist? How can it possibly be safe to have a birth in a “birth center” that has NO access to an emergency c-section if needed, NO anesthesia, no surgeon, no ability to perform advanced resuscitation techniques, no ability to perform anything more than basic CPR should something go wrong with either mother, baby or both. Mothers who want a good environment to birth in should seek the help and support of an experienced Doula who works with mothers to have happy and safe hospital births. That way, everything that you or your baby might need will be either right there in the room with you, or literally across the hallway. Ask a homebirth midwife, a non-nurse midwife if she carries equipment to save you or your baby. Ask to SEE it. Check and see if the Oxygen tank she carries (if she carries one at all) is actually charged and full. Can she run an IV and hang a bag of saline for you, should you either go into shock, or become dehydrated? Do these birth centers have crash carts, AED (defibrillators) oxygen, bag-valve-masks, pitocin (that’s not expired), and other meds you or your PRECIOUS baby may need, to save your LIVES? If they have these things, do they know how to use them? Who trained them? What makes them qualified? Who’s overseeing the Certified Nurse Midwife? Isn’t she required to be overseen by a Doctor, in the state of Michigan? What do they do if you need tests to verify the health and proper development of your baby? Can they even do that? Why take the risk???

        • bob

          Jen all I have to say to you is do some research because it’s obvious you have no clue in what is at a birth center and what a cnm can do. If you want to do a birth at a hospital and not get one on one care and be on an assembly line go for it. But maybe you should do RESEARCH before you go on your rants.

          • Jen

            Bob, it’s not a “rant” I used to be a homebirth midwife student/apprentice. I KNOW exactly what I’m talking about in terms of their skill levels and abilities. I’ve watched CNM’s also completely throw caution to the wind and do unethical and unsafe things in homebirths. One of those CNM’s was later arrested. And YOU obviously have no “clue”. Homebirth or NON-Affiliated birth center birth A.K.A. Homebirth in someone else’s house/business is more dangerous to babies. And advanced resuscitation techniques and TEAMS of people to save the lives of these fragile newborns are NOT available at these birth centers. Their recourse is to call 911, which is the SAME thing you’d do in a home birth setting. Having a DeLee suction device is NOT the same as advanced neonatal resuscitation. You do YOUR “research” and maybe you’ll get a clue. Hurt by homebirth is a good place to start, as well as Skeptical OB. You’ll find a lot of links that explain why non hospital affiliated CNM run, NO physician oversight “birth centers” are unsafe. You’ll find a TON more links explaining how ill trained and underprepared CPM’s or lay or traditional midwives are. Up till a few years ago, they weren’t even required to have finished HIGH SCHOOL, and no college courses were required to become a “CPM” a made-up certification that a bunch of lay midwives with no degrees in medicine, basically led by a bunch of hippies who formed a commune in the 60’s/70’s, put together to try and sound more “official”. But what CPM’s boil down to is birth junkies who wanna get their birth high without any credible education or skill or experience. And they want to “learn their craft” on YOUR mother, YOUR wife, YOUR sister, YOUR friend. And if the baby or even the MOTHER dies… oops.. sorry about that, I guess you didn’t “Trust Birth” enough. Pity.

      • Liz

        Leslie, I find your comment about a loss mother as not being a ‘credible source’ incredibly tasteless and insensitive. I hope you have more tact with your own patients – for their sake.

        As far as Safer Midwifery for Michigan being unreliable, which of the following facts is untrue of midwifery in Michigan?

        – there is no licensing or regulation of freestanding birth center

        – there is no licensing or regulation of lay midwives or CPMs

        – CNMs May practice midwifery without a physician collaborative agreement, without medical malpractice insurance, and with a seeming unlimited scope of practice – as midwifery is unregulated

        I’m happy to hear that you share some concerns about the utter lack of midwifery standards in the state. I hope you’ll turn your energy into rectifying this situation instead of attacking the credibility of a woman who was harmed by Michigan midwives.

      • Linda

        The lovely setting of either birth center, and a nice midwife do not mean safety is the primary concern.

        When either of the midwives say they are in compliance with AABC Standards of Practice then it means they risk out any women with identifiable risk factors.
        These would include less than 37 weeks or more than 42 weeks pregnant, no high blood pressure, no gestational or other type of diabetes, no women who require medication, etc. It also means that they don’t care for women who are attempting VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), having twins, or have a breech baby.
        During labor it means that any woman with a fever, meconium, elevated blood pressure, bleeding, prolonged labor, prolonged rupture of membranes, or whose baby is having even the smallest dips in heart rate all need to transfer to hospital.
        Those same midwives have a consulting agreement with a physician, at the minimum, and have, at minimum, a transfer agreement with their local hospital.

        For birth to be safe out of hospital, neither the mother nor baby can have any identifiable risk factors. The clinical examples listed above are all complications and risk factors that have been associated with a baby that has died at an out of hospital birth with CNMs or lay midwives (CPMs) within the past 5 years in Michigan.

        If a midwife tells you that these things don’t matter or she minimizes their seriousness like you did with Sara’s loss (Safer Midwifery for Michigan) then that midwife is not practicing safely or ethically and women need to be aware of that before choosing to birth out of hospital.

      • Sara Snyder

        Thank you for visiting the blog. I wanted to first say that the blog isn’t only authored by me, that loss mom you referred to. It is authored by licensed midwives like yourself, doulas, OBGYNS, and former apprentice midwives. Judith Rooks, CNM and former leadership for ACNM has even written a guest post. They are very credible sources. The blog hosts a variety of topics all regarding concern for safety. I’d love to know more about your risking out protocols and whether or not your birth center complies with AABC’s certification requirements. As a CNM, you do have a license, however I beg to differ on the Board of Nursing providing adequate oversight. The BON does not require insurance, does not define your scope of practice, does not grant you prescriptive or lab privileges, and does grant you admitting privileges at a hospital. These are extremely important measures when we’re talking about safety.

        I don’t disagree that birth centers could be a reliable option for women, but without proper regulation, I really don’t see how safety could be at the forefront. Even if that was your goal, the system is not yet able to support freestanding centers as a safe option because of lacking safety measures such as being a part of integrated care, insurance requirements, defined scope of practice, risking out protocols, and transfer of care requirements. It seems to me like the cart came before the horse if you’re opening a center, but calling it safe even if the state isn’t yet set up to allow you to function in a safe way despite your best intentions.

        And, I would invite you to visit the website too, not just the blog for more information and resources. We link to many of the above mentioned “credible” organizations you mentioned above.

        • bob

          hello sara I’m sorry for your loss but I think you are being very bias because you did lose your baby. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t of started your website if you had a good out come and I’m sure you would of went back and had another one with them. Birth can be dangerous but if women do the research find a good cnm (certified nurse midwife) and want an out of hospital birth why not. People just write there opinions and have no idea what they are talking about. For a instance cnm’s can draw labs and send them in. I had two homebirths and everything went good. The part about mal-practice insurance how does that make them safe? All that does is give the person who had a bad out come get money.

          • Linda

            Oh Bob, you are doing the same thing that you are accusing Sara of doing, You had 2 nice outcomes and are implying that because your 2 births turned out fine, that it should be fine for everyone if they just do their “research”.
            Liability insurance does so much more than just provide deep pockets for a frivolous lawsuit or someone looking to collect money for their unfortunate outcome. Liability policies will include what the policy holder cannot do, thus providing a de facto limit on dangerous practices if the midwife doesn’t have the good sense to know that identifiable risk factors means a woman should be birthing in hospital.
            The other reason that liability insurance works is that sometimes the parents are “lucky” and their baby survives negligent or incompetent care. Just because the baby survived doesn’t mean it is healthy and well. Cerebral palsy and other markers for brain damage mean the parents are caring for a severely disabled child and are forced to endure extreme financial hardship for actions that were not wholly their own. Why should the midwife who caused the issue not bear some financial responsibility for her incompetence or negligence?
            There is frequent discussion among midwives about evidence based care. The actions that Sara talks about on her website are evidence based solutions that are proven to make out of hospital birth as safe as possible, which is still not safer than hospital birth. If it is evidence based why are midwives and home birth or birth center parents not embracing it?
            I haven’t lost a baby due to a midwife’s incompetence, or negligence, yet I wholly support Sara and how she is trying to educate parents before another baby or mother dies, or is severely and permanently injured. Do you think that hasn’t happened to a family in MIchigan other than Sara’s. In the last 5 years there have been almost a dozen babies that died during a home or birth center birth, that would have lived if the parents were fully informed or the birth had taken place in hospital.
            Informed choice does not mean staying within the echo chamber of midwifery and the home birth community. It means fully informing oneself on the potential problems and limitations of out of hospital birth. When was the last time you heard a midwife explain that the hospital is just 5 minutes down the road, but the actual transport time from your bedroom to the labor and delivery suite would probably take 30-60 minutes, and it would be 30-60 minutes that your baby can’t wait for? They have no incentive to do that because if parents fully understood the risks, more would choose a different provider or different place of birth.
            I am a home birth midwife and I support Safer Midwifery for Michigan because they are helping women to make fully informed choices.

  • HueySprite

    Emma, what unethical/unsafe practices does Sara practice? Sounds like you have a personal beef. I read the story of her saving a baby’s life…sounded pretty ethical.

  • Sara Snyder

    For mothers reading this, a couple of thoughts about the broadcast above, particularly regarding your “choices”…

    1) Many mothers are “normal and healthy”. True, but things get dangerous quickly in birth and a normal healthy baby can still end up in the middle of an emergency that a freestanding birth center is no where near able to handle safely. Our CNM midwives told us they were able to spot trouble and get us help we needed in time. Not true, lost our baby because if it. When out of hospital midwives say that a hospital is only blocks away, it can literally mean life and death for your baby. When Magnus was born not breathing, it took over 45 minutes to transfer and get a pulse back in the ER that was only a few miles away. Without integrated care and emergency equipment/staffing down the hall, it’s too far away.

    2) The reporters at the end said that midwives wanted standards and legislation. This might be true for some, but for many it’s a slippery slope sort of statement. There have been many bills supported by and introduced by lobbyist efforts for midwives themselves. Unfortunately, none of these bills have advocated for the safety of mothers and babies. They have instead advocated for licensing of under-educated midwives, CPMs who are not qualified to practice in any other first world country. They are NOT the same as AMCB Certified (CNM and CM) midwives. These bills also did nothing to define scope of practice or provide risking out criteria, to require insurance, to define transfer of care protocols, and so on. Any licensing isn’t always better than none, and responsible legislation must be aimed at improving safety for families. Any midwife who says she support legislation should be carefully questions as to what exactly that means to her, and any midwifery legislation needs to be carefully scrutinized with safety at the forefront.

  • Sara Snyder

    Freestanding birth centers are home birth in someone else’s house. There is NO marriage of medical and natural. There is nothing medical about it. They have no license through the state for such facilities, even if the midwife herself is a licensed care provider, and no emergency equipment/staff. None. Please don’t be fooled by the illusion that this is safe. If you want a midwife, find one that works at a hospital affiliated birth center or delivers at the hospital. They are regulated, insured, and educated with emergency readily available. It drives me crazy that these midwives are touting this as a safety conscious, happy-medium. That’s exactly what we were told/sold and our baby died because we didn’t have emergency care.

  • Linda

    Are comments being moderated? I added 2 posts within the last 24 hours answering questions about birth center operations and VBAC. Both had posted and now they are gone.

  • Terrie Lemley CNM

    no one has commented that hospital birth also has risk. “common inductions” for loose criteria, electronic fetal monitoring that is not shown to keep babies safe are a few examples. Women choose out of hospital care because there are FEW options. I know of NO hospital affiliated birth centers on the west side of Michigan. Remember that birth is business. Hospitals operate for business purposes, not necessarily to provide options to birthing families. I am not anti-hospital. We certainly need good ones. But maternity system in our country is grossly flawed, and we have horrible outcome statistics in comparison to other countries. Nothing will change until midwifery is embraced in this country and birth returned to the normal arena

  • Replica New Balance

    Having read this I thought it was rather informative.

    I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this article together.
    I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading
    and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  • chá verde para emagrecer

    Food4Wealth is a new and popular guide that supposed to show you the way to grow healthy and organic food in an easy way.
    These types of foods can result in extra extreme
    symptoms that could affect the respiratory system.
    Therefore, we want the very best for them to ensure that they have a long, healthy, happy life.


    are uniquely design for your vehicle to gives an individual look both day and night time.

    Leave Dark Beauty Castle in Disney Epic Mickey– step 8:.
    At that time, she instinctively aware that she will be doomed to
    life and beauty of this line in hand to the old.