- Associated Press - Monday, March 19, 2018

ST. PETER, Minn. (AP) - When Marie MacPherson was pregnant with her fifth child, she and her husband Ryan MacPherson started looking for a non-hospital setting to give birth.

She found midwife Erika Urban in St. Peter. The experience went so well she also had Urban oversee the birth of her sixth child.

“We had such excellent care that went beyond the health care. They care so much and make close relationships,” Marie MacPherson told the Mankato Free Press .

Urban has provided help with home births for years but now operates River Valley Birth Center in St. Peter, the only one of its kind in southern Minnesota.

“There are only six licensed birth centers in the state and most are in the metro,” she said.

She and her husband Joe Urban bought a Victorian house and converted it into an advanced birth center, opening in 2014. Since then, she and three other midwives at the center have delivered 150 babies.

“The main reason women like to come here for care is they get longer appointment times - 30 to 60 minutes of face time with their provider. What we find is a lot of women want to be very educated and involved in their health care decisions. And I think they really find that,” Erika Urban said. “We talk about benefits and risks for each thing and talk to each person about what their concerns and questions are so they can make a decision that feels right to them.”

She said about 10 percent of the women who start with the birth center end up having their babies in a hospital instead. She said going to the hospital usually isn’t because of an emergency situation but because the midwives see signs of potential complications.

“We have tight parameters of what’s normal and if we see signs it’s heading outside of that we go right to the hospital,” Erika Urban said.

In one of Marie MacPherson’s births, there were concerns about potential kidney issues with the fetus. Urban referred her to specialists at the University of Minnesota.

“They were able to monitor (the pregnancy) while we were able to stay in (Urban‘s) care in St. Peter. That allowed us to have that close relationship with our health care provider but also have the reassurance of having access to the specialists in the Cities,” Marie MacPherson said.

In the end the university doctors cleared her to have a non-hospital birth and the baby was born healthy. The baby had several follow-up visits at the university and the kidneys were functioning well.

“It was nice the midwives had the capabilities to identify a problem and work though it with us,” Marie MacPherson said. “I’m very grateful they are in southern Minnesota and offering another alternative.

Erika Urban said one of their staff is a Certified Nurse Midwife who went through nursing school and then got a Master’s degree. Urban and two others are Certified Professional Midwives. All are licensed by the Board of Medical Practices. Midwife education usually takes three years, she said.

Urban said they can order all labs and ultrasounds.

The Birth Center is also certified by the Department of Health as an Essential Community Provider.

“That’s because we’re meeting very specific needs for maternal care in a rural setting. Our portion of Medicaid and uninsured patients is higher than the state average,” Urban said.

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Information from: The Free Press, http://www.mankatofreepress.com


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