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A Labor of Love

By Adeena Hires

Okanogan Living

Deciding to have a child is an unbelievable and life changing experience.

While your journey will be incredible, there are a lot of choices and decisions to make as a new parent. One such choice is where and how to start your journey. While there are a lot of possibilities to consider, a midwife can offer a natural and more personalized option.

Sarah Simmons, owner of Methow Valley Midwifery, would like to welcome all parents to discuss their options with her.

“Midwifery care is really different from standard OB (obstetrics) care because it’s really patient driven care,” Simmons explained. “The patient is the primary decision maker.”

She defines birth as a natural life event, not a medical procedure.

“We offer prenatal care that’s very personal, newborn care, and some in home visits,” she said. “Women have all the same options for testing and ultrasounds as they would with hospital care, just in a natural setting.”

Simmons also offers co-care for those who do use hospital care, along with breast feeding support, pre-conception consultations and prenatal and postpartum care.

She began her career working as a doula before attending the Midwives College of Utah. A doula is a professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to their client before, during and shortly after childbirth.

During college, she explained, “we have to have a lot of clinical hours and births to complete before we can get licensed,” noting that passing both state and national board exams are required.

She started offering midwifery services out of her Twisp office in 2017 and expanded to seeing patients in the valley in 2019.

“People started reaching out even before I moved here,” she recalled. “There was a need for midwives and the rumor mill spread fast.”

“Our family has chosen midwife care for all of our pregnancies and births because we wanted personalized, natural care,” Karenia Townsend said. “Our last three births have been at home under the guidance and support of Methow Midwifery and we couldn’t be happier about our experiences.”

Townsend said choosing Methow Midwifery provided exceptional prenatal and postnatal care as well as a whole family approach “that kept our other children included in the miracle that is pregnancy and birth.”

“Sarah and her birth assistant’s expertise and calm demeanors provided us with the confidence to have a home birth,” Townsend said. “We are grateful to have such an amazing resource located in the Okanogan valley and look forward to working with Methow Midwifery in the future.”

BreAnna Lezard agreed, stating “The decision was easy once my childhood friend told me about the amazing and caring Sarah Simmons. The best part is she was available in Omak.

She is everything you dream of needing when creating life. Allowing you to explore, feel and acknowledge the choices to be made for you and your growing human. You feel confident in her care and comfortable with the choices talked about for the future. Relationships are built and that is a beautiful bond to gain…. You place your trust with her, and she holds that deeply. She always has the radiance of good. Birth is beautiful, baby is beautiful, and a midwife is the way to birth beauty.”

While she loves “catching babies,” as she calls it, Simmons admitted it was a lifestyle change when she started delivering them.

“I think the hardest thing is that you’re always on call,” she said. “You have to have a family life that’s really accommodating. You may not be at home for days on end.” She credits her husband and six children for their help and encouragement. “My family’s been super supportive, it was definitely harder for my husband. He had to pick up the slack with our kids, but now it’s very routine,” she said.

Simmons, who is the second oldest in a family of 11 children, said she has always enjoyed babies and one of her favorite aspects of midwifery is how new parents experience birth.

“I’ve done some really beautiful outdoor births in yards while hearing the birds,” she said. “I also just really love family births. Everyone is so excited to meet the new sibling and they’re always so sweet.” She’s also caught all her grandchildren and 12 nieces and nephews.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Simmons said out-of-hospital births have increased.

“I think a lot of people were not wanting to give birth in a place that was full of sick people.”

In 2022, Simmons’ practice caught 17% of all the babies born in Okanogan County. About half of those births were waterbirths, she said.

“I have a lot of clients here,” she said, adding that some travel from as far as Republic, Chelan and the Coulee area.

“I like to do six (deliveries) a month, but I’m usually fuller than that,” she admitted. “I think it’s around 350 families (that) I’ve taken care of. It is super rewarding.”

When Simmons moved to the area, she said she was fortunate to find Jessica Ready, who is a registered nurse with experience in obstetrics to birth assist.

“Over the course of our working together we started to dream up how we could bring a free-standing birth center to Okanogan County. Eventually we located a suitable building and became partners in bringing a birth center to life to serve birth families in our area.”

Simmons is also excited to announce that she is planning to offer a 12-week peer-support group this fall which helps to “normalize the transition to parenthood.”

When asked where she sees her practice in the next decade, Simmons said, “I’m pretty sure I’ll still be catching babies. I just love watching families grow.” ♦



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