Amalia and Adam Gray with their newborn and Claudia Brown. Photo by Keri Cooper

Have all the bells and whistles of a medical practice with Home Birth Kaua`i — or be as natural as you want. Amalia and Adam Gray with their newborn and Claudia Brown. Photo by Keri Cooper

Home Birth Kaua`i

by Anne E. O’Malley

Being born can be a rude awakening for infants, but many on Kaua`i — and elsewhere — work to make it as beautiful, loving and bonding an experience as possible. Among those with such a goal are the partners in the five-and-a-half-year-old Home Birth Kaua`i, a center whose name describes its purpose.

By the time Certified Nurse Midwifery practitioner Claudia Brown opened the business and later offered a partnership in it to Sharon Offley, also a CNM, the two had a combined experience of working with over 10,000 births, most of them in hospitals.

“The first practice I worked out of was a busy hospital,” says Brown. “I delivered between 15 and 20 babies a day.

“There were high risk babies. We saw it all — twins, C-sections, breech babies — it was like playing junior resident, a lot of great experience.”

Both women personally had the experience of birthing their own children at home, and in addition, throughout her 28 years of experience, Brown had helped in the home birthing of several friends’children.

Today, on a serene 5.5 acres in Wailua Homesteads, Home Birth Kaua`i offers two birth suites, each consisting of a bedroom, living room, kitchen and a huge bath with hydrotherapy and birthing tubs inside and out.

“We now do between five and seven births a month, a far cry from the first year, when I did eight for the year,” says Brown.

Brown’s philosophy of midwifery, as stated on their website, is that “birth is a safe, beautiful and normal process. Midwives know that pregnant and birthing women are not sick, that birth is not inherently dangerous, and that their new babies are nowhere safer than in their mother’s care.”

Brown came to Kaua`i in 1992 in response to an ad for a position as a nurse midwife at Kaua`i Medical Clinic in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health.        Eight years into it, she was about to enter private practice when a vacation to France resulted in an extended European stay. Working to increase condom usage and becoming a restaurateur brought connections to South Africa, where Brown next landed after a plea for help from a friend working with HIV-positive women raising money through their artistic projects.

In Swaziland – at the time it had the highest incidence of HIV in the world — Brown partnered to build six preschools and soup kitchens. HIV-positive patients had to walk all day to get to the clinic and needed food.

 

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