As a labor and delivery nurse, Jessica Kosloski knows a thing or two about birth. When she began planning her own birth in 2020, she knew she wanted to deliver at the Midwifery Birth Center (MBC) at St. Joseph. “I knew I wanted Jennifer Eagle as my midwife, which I think says a lot about the care here,” she said. “The midwives in this group really go the extra mile to care for you.”
Choosing midwifery care felt completely natural for Kosloski, who knew she wanted a low-intervention, unmedicated birth. “The Midwifery Birth Center truly offers the best of both worlds,” she said. “You can have a low-intervention birth with your spouse and your care team present, with the hospital and skilled medical professionals nearby if an emergency does arise.”
On August 21, 2020, after working two shifts, Kosloski felt her labor progressing. She and her husband, Nick, arrived at the midwifery birth center around 7 p.m., and their son Cole arrived a few short hours later. Her wish for a natural water birth came true: Cole’s birth was unmedicated and took place in the tub in their birth center suite. “My biggest worry was that as a nurse, it would be hard for me to let go and be the patient during my birth,” she said. “But I really trusted my midwife and everyone around me, and I was truly able to let go and enjoy the process.”
Although her stay at the MBC was blissfully brief—the family was discharged six hours after Cole was born—Kosloski left with enough memories to last a lifetime. “Honestly the best thing was that afterward, we were able to snuggle as a family together on a wonderful bed with fresh sheets,” she said. “You don’t feel like you’re in a hospital setting. Other than checking Cole’s vital signs, everyone allowed us to have those precious moments together as a family.”
Experiencing the Midwifery Birth Center as a patient gave her a new perspective on the value of midwifery care, Kosloski said. ““I feel so beyond grateful and appreciative that we are able to offer this resource to our community.”
Alecia Cunningham’s first pregnancy wasn’t typical. While pregnant with her now 11-year-old twins, Alecia spent months on bedrest because her pregnancy was considered high risk. Born nearly three months prematurely, the twins were in the hospital for five months after their birth.
A decade later, Alecia went into her second pregnancy uncertain about what to expect. “In a way, this was like my first true pregnancy, because nothing about my first pregnancy was normal,” she said. Anxious about the possibility of another high-risk pregnancy, Alecia wanted to find a provider who could help her navigate a healthy, low-risk pregnancy and support her goal of a natural birth.
A couple of months into her pregnancy, Alecia visited Maternal-Fetal Medicine Associates at St. Joseph Medical Center for an ultrasound. Alecia was so impressed with the office and providers that she asked to transfer her care from her established provider to obstetrician-gynecologist Richelle Olsen, MD.
Transferring her care to Dr. Olsen’s office was the right decision, Alecia said. “Having such a complicated first pregnancy, I’d already been through a lot. I was jaded. Dr. Olsen helped talk me through some hard decisions, like whether to do genetic testing. She normalized my anxieties and helped me see that I could still have a healthy, normal pregnancy.”
After an uneventful, healthy, full-term pregnancy, Alecia gave birth to a son, Carter, on November 3, 2018, at the Family Birth Center at St. Joseph Medical Center. Alecia achieved her goal of a natural birth without an epidural and was thrilled with every aspect of her care, she said.
The most surprising aspect of her pregnancy and birth was just how easy, normal and natural it felt, from start to finish, Alecia said. “I really didn’t know what to expect from this experience, but I was pleasantly surprised. From Dr. Olsen to the ultrasound technicians, everyone was wonderful. The entire experience was great.”
She’d make the same decision again without hesitation, she said. “If I’d had this experience the first time, I wouldn’t have waited so long to have another one.”
Pregnancy means navigating countless choices, from baby names to baby monitors. But for Kelsey Ashe and her husband, J.R., choosing Highline Medical Center for the 2018 birth of their third child was simple. “I think Highline’s Family Birth Center is a hidden gem,” said Kelsey. “Many people don’t even know it’s in their community. It’s small, so you never feel like you’re in a big hospital.”
Highline’s Family Birth Center providers include expert obstetricians and midwives who work together closely, said Kelsey. “At Highline, there really isn’t much difference between care provided by a midwife and care provided by an obstetrician. It’s a smaller unit, so everyone has to work really closely together. The providers all spend a lot of time with you as the patient, and you always feel like you’re in good hands.”
For this birth, Kelsey chose to work with certified nurse midwife Roda Scego. “I loved the care I received from Roda, and I would highly recommend her to anyone. Everyone was great, from the people who greeted me when I arrived to the nurses. I loved the staff.”
As a longtime labor and delivery nurse herself, Kelsey supports new mothers who choose to write a birth plan. But she didn’t create one for this birth. “I knew I was being cared for by the best providers, and I chose to let them take care of me, instead of feeling like I needed to take care of myself,” she said.
“We both just can’t say enough good things about Highline, and how well I was cared for,” Kelsey said. “I drove past five different hospitals to give birth at Highline. That’s how much I love it.”
Shaina knew she didn’t want to give birth in a typical hospital labor-and-delivery wing, so when she became pregnant with her first child, Hannah, she heard about the Midwifery Birth Center at St. Joseph Medical Center and knew immediately she wanted to give birth there.
Her first birth, with Hannah, went mostly as planned. She had an unmedicated birth, but she did not give birth in the water as she’d hoped. Her labor was long and exhausting, but she had a very satisfying birth.
Shaina and her husband moved from Tacoma to Yelm during her pregnancy with Hannah, but when Shaina became pregnant again quickly, she knew she wanted to give birth at the Midwifery Birth Center again.
For her pregnancy with son Levi, Shaina participated in Centering Pregnancy. She enjoyed this immensely, because as a stay-at-home mom to a baby, she craved interactions with other adults. Centering gave her the opportunity to meet and interact with other adults as part of her prenatal care.
“I didn’t feel like I needed Centering for my first pregnancy, but for my second I definitely wanted to give it a try. It was amazing; our group had a nice balance of people, and it was nice to build those relationships and just get some real-life questions answered from other moms.”
For Levi’s birth in May 2018, Shaina felt more relaxed than she did during her first birth. She wanted a shorter labor, and she focused on relaxation to help her labor progress. “During my labor with Levi, I remember looking up and thinking, ‘This is so calm.’” This time, she gave birth in the water, just as she’d hoped.
“I’m always telling my friends how great it was to deliver at the Birth Center! If and when we have a third child, we’ll be back!”
Suzy Sill of Port Orchard knew her third child might arrive earlier than expected. Her second child, son James, was born at 32 weeks’ gestation at Harrison Medical Center in 2016. James then spent the next month in the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Tacoma’s St. Joseph Medical Center while Suzy and her husband, Andrew, juggled caring for a premature baby in Tacoma with parenting their toddler, Josey, back at home in Port Orchard.
Though Suzy was happy with the care James received at St. Joseph Medical Center, she wasn’t eager to repeat the experience or the daily commute. When son Jonny was born at 34 weeks’ gestation at Harrison in June 2018, Suzy was thrilled to learn he could stay at Harrison’s Special Care Nursery, a smaller Level II NICU, until he was strong enough to come home.
“Jonny was the youngest baby to stay at the Special Care Nursery, and I was so happy to be able to not only have all three of my children at Harrison, but to keep Jonny here in this community,” said Suzy.
Harrison’s tightly knit nursing staff meant that Suzy quickly got to know each nurse caring for Jonny, she recalled. Though Harrison provided Suzy with her own hospital room, daily meals, and every possible accommodation for breastfeeding and pumping, life with two young children at home meant Suzy couldn’t spend every moment at Jonny’s side, she said. When she did have to leave the hospital, she knew her son was in good hands. “If I had to miss a feeding because I was caring for two other children at home, I could call the nursery, and I’d know who it was answering the phone.”
Caring for a premature baby—especially one who can’t yet come home—isn’t easy, Suzy said. But Harrison’s caring providers made the experience memorable, instead of stressful. “Having Jonny stay here in this community made all the difference to us as we got used to life as a family of five. Harrison was wonderful with Jonny. I’d recommend the Special Care Nursery to anyone.”
New parents often describe their child’s birth as a “love at first sight” experience. First-time mom Madison Batt of Tacoma was smitten a little sooner than most. During her 2017 pregnancy, she discovered the Midwifery Birth Center at St. Joseph Medical Center and felt an instant connection. “After lots of research into local birth options, I found the Midwifery Birth Center and fell in love with their philosophy and outlook surrounding birth,” she said. “When I toured the birth center, it was an instant ‘love at first visit’ moment meeting the wonderful staff.”
Madison was intrigued by home birth, but wanted more options for pain management, freedom of movement, and support. And her husband, Robert, wanted a traditional hospital setting.
The Midwifery Birth Center offered the ideal solution, she said. “It felt like a small clinic with great one-to-one care, but with more to offer than a home birth would have allowed.”
Throughout her pregnancy, Madison appreciated Certified Nurse Midwife Heather Ranney’s holistic approach to prenatal care and childbirth. “I like the natural approach. I loved that she supported natural childbirth, set realistic expectations, and never prescribed unnecessary medications.”
Finley’s birth in November 2017 was picture-perfect, Madison said. “My labor experience was wonderful. The midwife was quick to make me very comfortable. We had a baby in arms 22 minutes after arrival.”
After a few hours of rest and recovery, Madison and Robert were free to go home and start their journey as parents. The personalized, attentive care Madison received, combined with the privacy of a small birth center, made her transition to parenthood a cherished memory. “We recommend the Midwifery Birth Center to everyone we know,” she said. “It was the most amazing moment in my life.”
Taylor Markholt wanted her daughter’s birth to feel natural and uncomplicated. She knew she wanted a birth setting that felt like home, with the support of a hospital nearby. She also wanted caring providers who shared her views and supported natural, unhurried childbirth.
At a friend’s recommendation, she chose Certified Nurse Midwife Joy Scott, ARNP, for prenatal care. Selecting the Midwifery Birth Center at St. Joseph Medical Center for her birth was a natural fit, said Taylor. She liked the quiet, calm atmosphere and skilled, caring support she found there.
The Midwifery Birth Center’s options for low-intervention pain management, from nitrous oxide to a large birthing tub, were confidence boosters, she said. And the plush, private room with a queen-sized bed was an unexpected surprise.
“My husband and I both really liked the setting,” Taylor said. “The queen-sized bed was wonderful because we did skin-to-skin contact after the birth. It was so nice to have that big bed where we could just relax with our daughter.”
Although labor and childbirth aren’t easy feats, the entire experience was surprisingly comfortable, Taylor said. “I’m so glad I chose the Midwifery Birth Center. Having an emergency department just an elevator ride away was comforting. They took care of the cleaning up. More importantly, they took excellent care of us!”
Misty Moran of Gig Harbor knew what she wanted for her second child’s birth. Mom to a healthy, active toddler born in a local hospital, she liked the security offered by a hospital setting. But this time, she wanted greater privacy, more options for low-intervention pain management, and freedom to try different positions during labor.
At the hospital, her first birth was well supported and safe, if a bit crowded, she said. “There were a lot of unfamiliar hospital personnel coming and going from my room. I wanted more privacy during birth and recovery to bond with my newborn, get breastfeeding established, and spend time with my husband and family.”
It was during this birth experience that Misty heard about the new Midwifery Birth Center at St. Joseph Medical Center. Right away, she knew she’d found the ideal setting for her next delivery. The birth center offered everything she wanted: large, private birthing suites on a hospital campus, less invasive pain management, choices for birth positioning, and the opportunity to work with some of the region’s best certified nurse midwives.
Misty’s pregnancy progressed smoothly, and daughter Zariah’s birth in fall 2017 happened fast: She arrived healthy after a brief labor with just a few minutes of pushing. Stepping into the birth center was like entering a top-notch resort, she said. “It was like walking into a four-star luxury hotel. The soaking tub was awesome.”
At the Midwifery Birth Center, the family had more privacy with just the right amount of support, she said. “I actually got to know the nurses who came in and out of the room, and they gave me space and time to spend with my baby and husband. I also felt like they explained a lot more to me about what was going on, which I appreciated.”
And though Zariah didn’t need medical attention, the proximity of St. Joseph Medical Center’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) was comforting, Misty said. “The fact that the birth center was connected to the hospital was a huge security factor for me. With the birth center, expert medical care is just a skybridge away.”
Birthing at the Midwifery Birth Center was almost like a home birth, with added peace of mind, Misty said. “All in all, it was just a night-and-day experience from my first birth.”
When a carefully planned birth takes an unexpected route, the best care matters. Rochelle Waller of Federal Way knows this firsthand. When her planned vaginal-birth-after-cesarean (VBAC) turned into a second surgical birth this spring, Rochelle’s birth team at the Family Birth Center at St. Francis Hospital made the experience memorable, positive and enjoyable, she said.
Rochelle’s providers supported her wishes for a VBAC birth and were equally supportive when those plans changed, she noted. “I felt really supported by the midwives,” Rochelle said. “My birth plan was to have a VBAC, and if I wanted to stick to that, they supported it. They told me I could go on laboring if I wanted, but they supported me, however I chose to give birth.”
Although Rochelle was tired from hours of labor, her daughter Teagan’s 2018 cesarean birth felt family-centered and positive, Rochelle said. She had skin-to-skin contact with Teagan immediately after the birth and held her soon after. Rochelle also appreciated the breastfeeding support and healing care provided by the nurses and midwives at the Family Birth Center. Her CenteringPregnancy® group prenatal care program, through Franciscan Women’s Health Associates—Federal Way, provided an added layer of support before and after the birth, Rochelle added.
“I really liked my interaction with the midwives through the entire birth,” said Rochelle. “They laughed with me, they talked with me, and they took on my humor. It felt like they weren’t just doing their jobs—they were part of the birth.”
Local stay-at-home mom April was set on a hospital birth for her second child, due late in 2017. She had warm memories of her 2-year-old son’s birth at a hospital in the Midwest, and she looked forward to another delivery attended by caring, expert medical personnel. As a second-time mom, she also knew she’d appreciate recovering for a day or two in the hospital with her new baby before heading home.
April had another reason to choose a hospital birth: She experienced two miscarriages before conceiving her daughter, so even though her pregnancy was healthy and problem-free, she was still cautious. For her own peace of mind, she wanted to do everything she could to plan for a healthy, safe delivery, and she knew she wanted hospital staff nearby.
But after touring Tacoma hospitals, she and her husband decided they wanted a more private, comfortable setting for their birth. A visit to the Midwifery Birth Center at St. Joseph Medical Center confirmed they’d found their ideal birth location: a private, serene birthing suite just moments away from one of the region’s most advanced hospitals.
By the time she’d settled on the Midwifery Birth Center, April was well into her third trimester. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health midwives quickly took over her prenatal care, with calm, caring answers to her many questions and reassurance for her nerves.
“I did have some added anxiety going into this birth, and the Franciscan midwives were very kind in shepherding my pregnancy, delivery and recovery,” April said.
The day her daughter was born, April remembers a happy, helpful birth environment. “I really noticed that every person we interacted with, from the doulas and midwives to the nurses, was genuinely happy about our baby. They met us in our concerns, not treating the birth clinically,” she said. “There was a lot of nurturing and sweet responses. Everyone was very responsive to our questions.”
Her daughter was born just 45 minutes after they arrived at the birth center. And, just as she’d hoped, her recovery was restful and smooth—and surprisingly quick. Her brief labor and quick delivery left her less exhausted, with enough energy to begin her life as a mother of two.
“I ended up having such a nice recovery this time,” she said. “I wasn’t as exhausted, and my husband wasn’t as exhausted. We were cuddling our baby together. It was very sweet.”
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