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More midwives needed as home births climb

By Crystal Price
EL PASO, Texas -- A recent report shows that the number of women choosing out-of-hospital births is growing at a rapid rate.

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the number of women choosing to give birth at home or a birthing center, rather than a hospital, has grown by 56 percent in less than a decade.

The report also shows that out-of-hospital births accounted for 1.36 percent of U.S. births in 2012. In 2011, 1.26 percent of births happened outside of the hospital, and only 0.87 percent of out-of-hospital deliveries took place in 2004.

Mariel Barrett, a mother from Horizon City, gave birth to her son, now 2 1/2 months old, at a birthing center in El Paso.

"I had my first son, he's three, in the hospital and I felt like I missed out on something," Barrett said.

But this time she decided to hire a midwife and have Harkin at a birthing center.

"The amount of endorphins that you get is incredible," Barrett said. "It does hurt a lot, but once the baby is out, the pain is just gone."

A midwifery school in El Paso, Maternidad La Luz, has enrolled student midwives from all over the country as the demand goes up.

Patricia Garcia came from Los Angeles to El Paso to learn how to help women through the home birth process.

"Women will come in for labor checks and prenatal appointments," Garcia said. "Some of them who come in are ready to give birth, so then we catch babies."

Sandra Iturbe is a certified professional midwife from El Paso who has practiced midwifery for years.

"It was something in my blood and something that I was insanely passionate about," Iturbe said.

Iturbe's great-grandmother was a midwife in Juarez.

One thing she said she wishes to see are more multicultural women like herself in this role, especially along the border.

"There really needs to be more women of color in this field so that we can accommodate different cultures and languages," Iturbe said. "It is the most beautiful thing in the world to see a woman transform herself into a mother."

For more information on how to hire a midwife or to attend the midwifery school, go to the Maternidad La Luz's website at http://www.maternidadlaluz.com.