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Growing popularity of midwives in Abilene, West Texas following pandemic shortage

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, midwifery has become an increasingly popular path for expectant parents. However, especially in rural West Texas, the importance of having midwives available is growing exponentially.

A normal day at the office for many consists of clocking in, sitting behind a desk, having lunch, and clocking in. However, for Sabrina Elliott, her daily job as a registered midwife involves holding and caring for young babies, new parents or parents-to-be, as well as helping deliver a child in a swimming pool. at a customer’s home.

Elliot said it was his divine calling to work with families, especially babies. She started out as a doula, guiding expectant mothers through the ebbs and flows of childbirth. But after meeting a 14-year-old pregnant refugee here in Abilene, who died days after giving birth, she knew she had to do more.

Helping mothers learn more about their bodies, childbirth and the health of their babies in a calming and personal way was Elliot’s goal, and it was done in the form of a midwife .

“When I started home midwifery I had one client a month, then it went to three and now I do five a month,” Elliott said.

Expectant parents began looking for midwives at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, after hospitals began increasing restrictions everywhere, including labor and delivery. Elliot said in his experience, families want their children to be safe and peaceful in their homes, which leads them to midwives.

Unlike big cities like Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, here in West Texas, finding enough midwives for interested parties can be tricky, especially in smaller communities.

“So much [communities] have had labor and delivery room closures, and midwives are the ones who have to pick up and serve those counties,” Elliott explained.

But the struggles are amplified in some of the more rural parts of West Texas. Elliott detailed: “Last month I gave birth to a couple from Brady, Texas who ended up coming to a hotel in San Angelo to deliver their baby in a hotel because there was no there was no hospital near them, and they didn’t. I want to give birth at home.

While Abilene has a fair share of midwives, places like San Angelo only have one, and that’s Sabrina Elliott. However, according to the World Health Organization, the global shortage of midwives reached 900,000 – around a third of what is expected globally – in spring 2021.

For mother-of-two Tiffany Fullerton, she said she started looking for a midwife before COVID-19.

“It was a very alien thing,” Fullerton said. “Most of my friends I’ve spoken to were concerned that I was considering having [a baby] discharge from hospital. »

As Fullerton gave birth to her daughter in hospital, she and her husband said they wanted to try something different for their son, Micah, who is now six weeks old.

Fullerton interviewed Elliot before COVID hit, finding many similarities between the two and ultimately developing a great relationship together. After 13 or 14 hour-long sessions with Elliott before giving birth, she was ready to give birth at home.

“By the time I got to the scary part of having a baby, I felt safe with her and comfortable,” Fullerton said with relief.

Micah was born safe and secure, and two ecstatic parents were in awe of their new child. All the while, Sabrina was working.

“A few hours later, Sabrina put me to bed. She did my laundry for me and she made sure I had dinner,” Fullerton said. “Maybe hours after delivering the baby, they were gone, and my husband and I were lying in bed with this beautiful, sweet new family member.”

Although her daughter’s modern birth was wonderful and Fullerton said she had no objection to another hospital birth, she said her first choice would be the midwife unless a situation does not require immediate medical attention.

“We have wonderful optional midwives here in Abilene,” Fullerton boasted. “I think it’s really cool that people are starting to see that as an option.”

As midwives create lasting bonds with their clients, even lifelong friendships, Elliott said she is also working to change the way midwives are viewed.

“I want midwifery to not feel like it’s the old-fashioned way of doing things,” Elliott encouraged, “but make sure there’s a way to feeling like you’re doing the new ‘in’ thing that gives you more knowledge and freedom of the things you do.Your baby, your birth and your own body.

Elliott said it was a tough field to get into, as it required three years of rigorous schoolwork and two years as an apprentice, to get an official license in the state of Texas, but said said seeing parents with their children makes the whole process worth the work.


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