Nancy graduated with honors from her midwifery programs and trained in a variety of settings including birth centers and midwifery schools in the United States, the border of Mexico and Jamaica. She co-cofounded the first cesarean prevention organization in the world, was instrumental in the formation of the Cesarean Prevention Movement and her work is being archived at the Schlesinger Womens’ History Library at Harvard University. Since the beginning of her training she has attended over 2100 births. She coined the term “VBAC” – Vaginal Birth After Cesarean – which is now used internationally. She is a preceptor for several midwifery schools and has had women from all over the world who have come to the United States to birth with her.
Nancy is a member of the Massachusetts Midwives Alliance and the North American Registry of Midwives, and is an internationally known and sought-after childbirth speaker. She was the first midwife in the U.S. to teach HypnoBirthing and in 2013 became the first childbirth educator in Massachusetts to teach Blissborn Childbirth classes.
Nancy trains student midwives and teaches a variety of workshops (view a list here). She will be leading on line classes in 2016. In 2011 Nancy was selected as one of Mothering Magazine’s “Living Treasures.” Click here to read the article (pdf).
Nancy coined the term VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and has written two books on cesarean prevention. “Silent Knife” won an award for The Best Book in the Field of Health and Medicine by the American Library Association the year it was written. She loves what she does, feels privileged to attend births. She wants parents to feel supported/cared for, confident, excited and relaxed and wants babies to arrive safely into a room filled with respect, joy, love and support. She is currently writing her third book “Birthquake: A Pre and Post Childbirth Book for Strong Women and Women Who Want To Be Strong” ( co-author Raquel Lazar-Paley) which will be out by the end of this year!
I ended up with what was a preventable cesarean for my first baby. I was so happy to be a mother, and so happy to have a healthy baby – but I was separated from him which was excruciatingly painful (for both of us, I am sure) and knew intuitively that the section could have been avoided if I had been more knowledgeable and better informed. I interviewed 18 doctors for my next birth, hoping to have a normal delivery – and was told that I would die – or that my baby would. I knew that in Europe women who’d had cesareans almost always had subsequent babies naturally – even when the baby was significantly larger than the baby for whom they had been sectioned – and so I continued my search. I finally found an OB who said we could ” give it a shot”. My second baby was born vaginally and I was so relieved not to have another section; however, it was not a great birth — it was a typical American birth: I had strangers in the room, food was withheld, there were bright lights, unnecessary interventions, ridiculous routine procedures (done, I know now, for the convenience of the hospital staff and not necessarily in the best interests of mother and baby) — and once again, my baby was taken away from me. I stayed home and had our third baby at home and it was everything I thought birth could be – safe, peaceful, calm, lovely, sweet, powerful, amazing. The cord wasn’t cut for over an hour and my daughter was in my arms from the moment she arrived. I had been teaching childbirth classes, writing about natural birth and attending births as a doula; however, the midwife inside of me was born the day that I gave birth at home. I don’t want women to have to wait until their third birth to find out how wonderful that experience can be/is.
I believe that women were designed to have babies and that babies were designed to be born, safely and unharmed. I respect birth. When women go to most obstetricians they have to prove that they can have a baby; when they come to a home birth midwife, they have to prove that they can’t – because we believe they can. Most of the tests done in this country during pregnancy are unnecessary ( and not done in many European countries which all have lower cesarean rates and better outcomes than we do). Induced labors almost always result in what-could-have-been preventable cesareans. I know that good nutrition plays a significant role in pregnancy outcome and that babies are happier when mothers eat well – and that we don’t pay enough attention to this in this culture. I believe that having calm and loving care providers who themselves having given birth naturally makes a difference at a woman’s birth. I believe that a wonderful birth stays with a mother – with a couple and with a family – forever. I believe that home is the best place for most babies to be born and my experience has taught me that this is true.