Milford birth center offers comfort and support

For expectant mothers, it’s like home – only better. Immaculately clean, neat as a pin and filled with strong women who have one goal: To give them a safe and comfortable place to give birth.

Midwives at The Birth Cottage, 4 Prospect St., Milford (next to the old Milford railroad station building), have attended hundreds of births at this location over the past eight years.

On one bitterly cold day this past January, three mothers and their infants gathered in The Birth Cottage’s living room for a weekly mothers’ group and talked about their personal experiences.

Michelle Folan said she would do it again at The Birth Cottage, even though she endured 32 hours of labor when her son, Kai, was born 71?2 months ago.

“It was really challenging, and I was really scared,” she said. After the birth, she passed out and woke up to a circle of midwives surrounding her – “a ring of angels,” she called it.

“It was really nice to see their faces,” Folan said.

Kai is a robust little boy, and Folan gives The Birth Cottage some credit for that.

Having him here was an easy decision for the Mont Vernon
woman, since her own mother had three children at home with no complications.

“To me, this is the safest place,” she said. While hospitals are good for dealing with problem births, she thinks of them as a place to go when you’re sick.

“I really like the setup here,” Folan said. “Everything you need is at your fingertips, and you have all the time you need to talk about your feelings. I felt like I was surrounded by powerful women.”

Entering the world on the same day as Kai was Stacey Qualls’ baby Charity, who was born at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center because of complications.

Qualls, of Milford, had her prenatal care at The Birth Cottage and attends the mothers’ group on Fridays. The socializing fills an important need for new mothers, she said.

“I love the midwives,” she said. “They would talk about the baby inside, how it was growing. They made it all a positive experience.”

The Birth Cottage has two homey birthing rooms, a prenatal exam room, a laboratory, a laundry room, an office and a living room where the mothers have their Friday meetings.

All the mothers agreed that the midwives and the way they lavish care and attention on them are what make The Birth Cottage special.

Leslie Roessner-Strauf, of Nashua, had her first baby in a hospital, an experience she called “really traumatic.”

At The Birth Cottage, she said, immediately after the birth, the midwives “handle the baby as if it were their own,” instead of following rigid hospital protocols.

The Birth Cottage was founded in New Ipswich in 2005 by Adrian Feldhusen and Tracy Bowman, and it soon afterward moved to Milford.

Bowman is retired, and now it’s owned by Feldhusen and Autumn Vergo, who has been a midwife for five years and is finishing a master’s degree in nursing.

The Birth Cottage’s three midwives have a mix of credentials, Vergo said, as she gave a tour of the facilities. That means they can offer a variety of care, including postpartum and prenatal. They are usually aided by two student midwives.

The great emphasis on individual attention, Vergo said, means a normal prenatal visit can typically last between 30 minutes and an hour.

“So we hope that by the time of delivery, we know you very well and have built a relationship,” she said.

Vergo, who is 36, had a brief career in journalism and then went into midwifery after she had her first baby, in a hospital where she was attended by midwives. Her second child was born at home, with midwives, and both births were powerful experiences for her.

“I was fascinated by the physical processes and their emotional and spiritual components,” she said. “I wanted to enter a profession that would support” women going through that process.

When attended by midwives, she said, “Women really do things on their own terms, and it gives them real confidence and strength for mothering.”

The midwives will travel up to 30 miles from Milford to attend home births. The midwives also offer preconception and nutrition counseling and welcome mothers who want to have a traditional birth after a cesarean. Women typically arrive when they’re in labor and leave between two and 12 hours after delivery.

The Birth Cottage also can arrange for genetic screening, ultrasounds, laboratory testing and other prenatal screenings. It offers well-woman care, including annual gynecological exams and menopause management in Milford and at a satellite office in Peterborough. For more information, visit www.birth
cottage.com
.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.