My name is Karen Baker and it is a pleasure for me to provide midwifery services to Inland Empire families who desire a natural pregnancy and birth at home.  The name of my business is Birthsense and Beyond. I have been active as a birth attendant and childbirth educator in the home birth community since 1982.  During many of those years midwives were prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license.

We battled long and hard for legislation to correct that injustice. We succeeded in 1993 when the Licensed Midwifery Practice Act of 1993 was passed in California. I am honored to be among the first 26 midwives to be licensed in 1993.  I am #11.  I am also a Certified Professional Midwife which is a national certification provided by the North American Registry of Midwives.

I am the mother of three home-born children (all adults now) and I am married to Bruce, the best husband a midwife could have. I love serving families and teaching midwifery to others. At this time in my life, I have the goal to help others become midwives so there are always students working with me. I truly want to preserve the art of midwifery and the choice of midwifery care for women in our state. The main reason I am a midwife is my deeply held belief that is expressed beautifully in the following quote:

If we hope to create
a non-violent world
where respect and kindness
replace fear and hatred,
we must begin
with how we treat each other
at the beginning of life.
For that is where
our deepest patterns are set.
From these roots grow fear and alienation
~or love and trust.
~Suzanne Arms

I believe babies deserve to be born in peace and joy.  Homebirth is one way we can create a loving and gentle environment in which to welcome them. One of the principles guiding the work I do is non-violence.  I hope to bring more gentleness to our culture.  It is my hope that helping people birth and greet their newborns gently, joyfully and in the security of their homes will benefit the family forever. Helping families give birth at home strengthens families. When mothers are cared for tenderly they will be more able to tenderly care for their babies.  When fathers are encouraged to support their partner’s birth efforts and connect with their babies at the moment of birth, bonding is more complete and relationships are strengthened.

Birth brings change for all in the family but it is a very important developmental milestone for a woman.  Women are powerful and passionate givers of birth and they are capable of giving birth without assistance.  Many women recognize, however, that a non-threatening companion may provide comfort and support that enhances a woman’s ability to focus and manage her fears.  Other mothers and grandmothers, sisters and aunts have always been there as midwives for birthing women throughout time. As a modern midwife, I attempt to help a woman create a safe environment/pathway for her birth journey.  I may guard her privacy or witness her struggle or validate her discoveries.  I do or refrain from doing in order to promote a psychologically safe space for a woman to do her birth work.  I may offer a woman reassurance and support throughout her challenges but I resist “managing.”  Since she is on a developmental path I may encourage or inspire.  As an experienced midwife, I am able to remind a woman of her capabilities even when her cultural conditioning has created doubt.  As an experienced mother, I may soothe her pain or calm her fears and rejoice in her accomplishments.

What I actually do as a midwife depends on the needs and desires of the birthing woman. Every pregnant woman is a unique being with important needs and I try to learn about those needs during our time together prenatally. Meeting the needs of individuals is a strong focus of my midwifery service.  Midwives and pregnant women and their families enjoy one-on-one communication that isn’t hurried.  The interactions I have with women and their families are deeply personal and essential to building a trusting relationship. Women are physically and psychologically vulnerable at the time of birth and caregivers who are familiar provide the best support.

There are times that some women and babies might benefit from a midwife’s ability to intervene gently or heroically as needed.  Midwives gain insight, deepen intuition and develop courage for taking action when it is reasonable to do so.  I’ve learned much from women and babies and I try to share knowledge and skills with mothers and other midwives so that all women and babies, even those encountering difficulties, will reach their journey’s end safely.

I also want to support freedom of choice for families in childbearing.  At home, people are free to consider so many options.  The family is able to design the experience for themselves.  I also believe, along with the opportunities for choice comes responsibility.  I encourage families to take charge of their decisions and enjoy the satisfaction that responsibility brings. I see my role as an information source and a support person. I may review their options with them and share my experiences and ideas; however, I do not make the decisions. The family is in charge. I am their knowledgeable companion.

Helping women and babies enjoy breastfeeding is another special interest of mine.  I have developed a special perspective on breastfeeding during my work as a midwife and I have many years of personal breastfeeding experience as well.  Much about breastfeeding has been medicalized much like pregnancy and birth.  It is wonderful that so much has been learned about lactation and the needs of breastfeeding women and babies but there is still much to learn about how to share information and provide support without over regimenting so that mothers and babies can fall in love at the breast.  I am available for breastfeeding support for all breastfeeding mothers.

Karen Dobbins, a certified doula, assists me regularly.  She has spent many years supporting birthing women and midwives. Karen has had the honor of delivering some of her grandchildren and some of her great grandchildren.  I am also surrounded by a wonderful group of midwives.  They are very talented and dedicated women who are helping me while they are working in their own practice or while they are gaining experience on their way to licensure.  It is a pleasure and an honor to work with them.