Juneau midwives talk about what their job is really like, and the rising popularity of their craft in Alaska

For this year’s International Day of the Midwife, three of Juneau’s own practitioners sat down with the Empire to talk myths of childbirth — and the growing popularity of their profession.

Are midwives actually trained to deliver a baby inside a home? What happens if something goes wrong quickly?

Madi Nolan Grimes, the clinical director at the Juneau Family Health and Birth Center, said these are the types of questions midwives hear from people unfamiliar with the practice. (Yes, there are certified, and they’re trained to identify signs of danger well before a situation becomes dangerous, Grimes said.)

With more than 620 midwife-assisted births in Alaska last year alone, private practicing midwife Lorna Mazoff says families are opening up to this alternative birthing option. In Juneau, six women are certified midwives and collectively assist with approximately 100 births annually.

For more on what it’s actually like when a woman gives birth with a midwife (there’s far less dramatic screaming) and what professionals do when something isn’t quite right, watch this short video with half of Juneau’s midwifery professionals: Grimes, Mazoff and private practice midwife Debbie Gillespie.

• Contact reporter Paula Ann Solis at 523-2272 or paula.solis@juneauempire.com.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article stated that 11,000 births in Alaska were midwife-assisted. According to the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics there were approximately 11,000 births statewide and of those, 620 were midwife-assisted.

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