About Intimate Journey

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is a midwife?

Meaning of the word Midwife: “With Woman”

Once upon a time midwives were called upon by other woman to be by their sides during childbirth. Midwifery was considered an honored and respected profession. History bears witness to the fact midwives have played a significant role worldwide for centuries in human healthcare. Throughout the past 100 years, due to the establishment of hospitals and an emphasis on modern medicine and doctors taking control of the birth act, the popularity of midwives decreased and some of their reputation right along with it. Hospital births that offered pain medication and cesarean deliveries became the new norm.

Fortunately now, that trend is changing and home birth is making a dramatic comeback. State and national licensure is in place for midwives to allow us once again to be licensed professionals. In the state of California, we are recognized by The Medical Board of California as LMs (Licensed Midwife). Our national certification qualifies us as CPMs (Certified Professional Midwife). We obtain these professional titles by completing a 3-6 year clinical and didactic program that is accredited through MEAC and we also must pass the required licensing exam by NARM. We maintain these licenses with birth experience and required continued education credits.

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Why should you choose midwifery care?

  • You’re someone who believes and trusts in natural birth & the Midwifery Model of Care.

  • You’re someone who is willing to pay for quality prenatal health care because the value exceeds the cost.

  • You want to feel empowered and want control over your own birth experience.

  • You like holistic alternatives to health care & you are a health-conscious person.

  • You want to feel like your voice matters.

  • You want your baby to have a warm & gentle entry into the world

  • You want to develop a relationship with your care provider that makes you feel important, instead of just another number.

  • You like the idea of having your birth in the comfort of your own home.

  • You want to use water for therapeutic pain relief and/or birth your baby in water.

  • Your previous birth(s) in the hospital were not what you wanted and you desire a different experience and redemption birth.

  • You want to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and your options at the hospital are limited. We will evaluate your potential to have a home birth based upon certain criteria.

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What types of birth and wellness services does Intimate Journey offer?

Prenatal Care Details: I do prenatal visits which typically range from 45-90 minutes long. About 2 to 3 times during your pregnancy, we will perform blood draws for lab work which is picked up on site and processed in 2-5 days. We discuss the risks, benefits and reasons for all testing and all are offered to you with your fully-informed consent (which means you & your partner decide what testing you want). One bonus: we have natural organic options for the Gestational Diabetes screening (which is done at 28 weeks). During the first visit, we review your medical history, offer breast & physical exams, discuss informed consent documents & procedures, and develop an emergency care plan in case the need arises to access a higher level of care by an Obstetrician in pregnancy, labor or postpartum. Before you come into care, we make sure that you are a good candidate for an out-of-hospital birth and midwifery care by determining if you & your pregnancy are low-risk. Once you’re an established patient of ours, we do a risk assessment and maintain your optimum health (with your help) for you and your baby each time we see you. Again, we only take on low-risk patients which eliminates a lot of complications from the start. During visits we check in with how you’re feeling, check your vitals, palpate your belly, and listen to your baby with a doppler and fetoscope. With fundal measurement (the top of the uterus) and palpation (feeling your baby), we are able to observe fetal growth and position without having unnecessary ultrasound exposure throughout your care. We also cover new topics at each visit to help you prepare for your natural birth with us. Each prenatal visit builds on itself. Natural birth is the hardest thing you’ll ever do and the more you prepare and take care of yourself, the more successful your outcome will be. As a midwife, I may also order an ultrasound specific to the family and clinical needs of the patient, as well as make referrals to specialists, if needed. The prenatal visits are scheduled once a month for the first 28 weeks, then twice a week until 36 weeks, and then weekly after that until your baby is born. Labor details: We highly encourage all of our first-time moms (and mothers that have had previous medicated births) to hire a Doula to attend to you in Early Labor (0-5 cm) at your home. Early labor is the longest phase of labor and your midwife is not with you at that time. We keep in contact with you throughout early labor and determine when it’s time for you to come to the birth center or when to come to your home if you’re having a home birth. Once you are in Active Labor (6cm-10cm), we will admit you to the birth center and then we will monitor you & your baby during labor. We intermittently come into the room and check on you, but also give you privacy and space for intimacy and rest. When you are in Second Stage Labor (pushing phase), we are more hands-on and the frequency of monitoring the baby increases. Your birth team usually consists of your midwife, an advanced student, and an assistant student midwife. We encourage position changes, for the mother to listen to her body & intuition, recommend snacks & hydration, and keep a warm birth tub ready for you (which can give a lot of relief at this time). We help support your perineum tissues and coach you to slow your pushing down to avoid vaginal tears.

Birth details: At the moment of birth, the midwife will help the father and… sometimes the mother catch their baby. We really love to honor the pause after birth. We believe that you & your partner should be the first to touch & talk to your baby. We can tell by their efforts to breath, their color & muscle tone if your newborn needs assistance with breathing. We are fully equipped and trained in neonatal resuscitation, but most of the time babies take their first breath quickly.

Immediate Postpartum care details: Delayed cord clamping is always the first thing we do. We want your baby to have all their blood from the placenta (sometimes, up to 50% of your baby’s blood is still in the placenta immediately after birth). We don’t cut the cord until a few hours postpartum (which is usually done by the father). We will assist you in delivering your placenta and also monitor any blood loss. In the event you have significant blood loss, we may use herbs or an anti-hemorrhage medication to stop the bleeding. After placenta delivery, we usually get you comfortable in bed, check you & baby’s vitals, inspect your vaginal tissues for any tears, and determine if you need a suture repair (don’t worry, we carry lidocaine to numb you before the repair). We assist you in breastfeeding and then give you the golden hour to nurse, bond with your family, and eat your delicious postpartum meal. We leave the room to facilitate this special time with your newborn. We return to get mom up to the bathroom, suture (if needed), and do the newborn exam. You are typically discharged to your home 4-6 hours postpartum.

Postpartum visit details: We come to your home 48 hours postpartum to check on your healing & how your baby is doing. The remainder of the postpartum visits are at 1, 3, & 6 weeks postpartum. I complete and submit all paperwork for the birth certificate and social security paperwork, as well as file state disability paperwork. We also give you support during the transition of motherhood with a new baby, whether it’s the first time or tenth. At the final postpartum visit, we offer PAP smears, if necessary.

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Can Intimate Journey provide midwife services for home births?

Yes, we do offer you the choice to give birth at home as long as you live less than an hour from the birth center (and your home is deemed safe and suitable for delivery). For home birth, most of your prenatal visits will still be at the birth center, but you will receive a home visit at 36 weeks in order to plan & organize supplies for your home birth.

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Does the center offer prenatal care and consultations?

We offer full prenatal care (details above) and we do 15-minute phone or 30-minute in-person consultations, as well as birth center tours.
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How does Intimate Journey support postnatal care?

We offer four postpartum visits: 48 hours, 1 week, 3 weeks & 6 week final visit. We monitor vitals, help with breastfeeding, address questions & concerns with mom and baby, and give advice and recommendations. We also monitor the health and healing for the mother, and can also review & process the labor and birth with the family. In addition, we also offer you the choice of a Newborn Screening test (PKU/ heel prick) at the 48 hour postpartum visit.
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What is the approach to natural childbirth at Intimate Journey?

We believe in the mother’s natural ability to birth her baby. We trust her intuition and the beautiful dance between mom & her baby. We strongly believe the more the mother prepares for childbirth, the more successful she will be. One of the most important things is determining WHY she wants a natural birth because when you do something very hard, you need to have a reason why, especially when it comes to natural childbirth. It’s also important to have a supportive birth team, which hopefully includes an experienced doula, as well as participating in childbirth education courses during pregnancy. A good mindset, healthy nutrition, and exercise is also key! We provide resources and suggestions all the way through. We meet in the middle to create an empowering natural birth!
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Can clients receive personalized care plans for their pregnancy and birth?

Absolutely!! All our care is presented in a way in which the couple makes the decision, after we provide them with informed consent (which means we discuss the pros & cons to testing, ultrasounds, etc., and the couple then decides which option best fits their needs and wants). We always discuss what we bring to the table in order to facilitate a healthy mother & healthy baby.
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Does Intimate Journey offer services for water births?

Yes, we have birthing tubs in both of our birth suites at the birth center, and we have 3 different types of rental tubs for home birth. Typically, it’s recommended to try to stay out of the water until active labor so that it won’t slow or stop your labor (FYI: the absolute best time to get in is during transition!).
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Are there any educational resources or support groups available for expecting mothers?

We host several different childbirth classes at the birth center, and also offer Pregnancy and Postpartum groups that are FREE! Furthermore, we have a full library of books & DVDs you can borrow throughout your care.
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How can clients schedule a consultation with Intimate Journey?

The best way is to visit our website, click on the contact section, fill out our contact form, and then after submitting you will be redirected to a Calendly link to schedule either a 15-minute phone consultation or a 30-minute consultation & birth center tour. If for any reason you can’t find a time that works for you or you wish to speak with one of our staff members, please call us at 805-548-0606 and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
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What kind of experience and qualifications do the midwives at Intimate Journey have?

Erin Ashley is a registered CPM (Certified Professional Midwife), which is a national certification given after completing 3 years of didactic study of midwifery, and she is a registered LM (Licensed Midwife), which is a state license given after successful completion of the 8-hour exam administered by the Medical Board of California. Erin is also a designated preceptor and trains student midwives that are in all levels of their schooling and clinical practice. In addition, she only works with other fully-licensed midwives approved by the medical board to cover her practice in the event she is away.
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Does Intimate Journey accommodate different birth plans and preferences?

Yes, absolutely! I always say it’s YOUR BIRTH, YOUR WAY. I love honoring anything that the family wants for birth, as long as it doesn’t jeopardize the safety of mom and baby.
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How does the center ensure the safety and well-being of both mother and baby?

We have protocols in place to manage any complication such as hemorrhage, dehydration, resuscitation etc. We carry medication (Pitocin, for example) as a preventative measure, not to augment labor (such as epidurals) but to stop hemorrhage postpartum (which is excess bleeding). We always have a transfer plan in place in the event we need to go to the hospital. However, severe complications are extremely rare because we only take on low-risk patients and then constantly monitor to maintain that low-risk status throughout pregnancy, labor, birth & postpartum with your newborn.
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Are there any wellness services available for women beyond childbirth?

We have several wellness practitioners that work in the same building with their individual specialties, including Acupuncture, Pelvic Floor Therapy, Massage Therapy and Family & Marriage Therapy. Please see the Wellness tab on our website to read more.
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What areas and locations does Intimate Journey service?

We service all of San Luis Obispo County, including Paso Robles, Atascadero, Cambria, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, Avila Beach, Pismo, Arroyo Grande, Five Cities, as well as North Santa Barbara County, which encompasses Santa Maria, Orcutt & Lompoc.
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How can clients learn more about the specific services offered by Intimate Journey?

Read the top FAQs and each individual page on the website. You can also schedule an info call or a tour at the birth center to find out more details. Also, follow us on Instagram & Facebook for more info!
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What’s the difference between a Midwife & a Doula?

A Midwife holds a national certification and a medical license with the Medical Board of California. Our license enables us to provide medical care to pregnant mothers from pre-conception, well-woman care, pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum and care of the newborn. A Doula is certified but does not hold a medical license. She is like a birth coach. She is trained to emotionally & physically support you and your partner before and during birth; she can also help you plan your birth, help advocate for your preferences for labor and birth, and also support you with comfort measures in labor, making sure you both eat, drink and rest. One of her best tools is to be at your side during early labor and know just when to call the midwife (so you don’t have to worry about when to leave for the birth center or when to call the midwife to your home). It’s two very separate and different professionals but both are so valuable to have for natural childbirth.
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How will I know when to come to the birth center?

When you are in labor, you will be in continuous contact with your midwife. Communication is key! Your midwife will be gathering all sorts of information from you to determine the right time to come. For example, she will ascertain how long you’ve been in labor, how frequent & long your contractions are, how you sound on the phone, the labor intensity, pain level etc. All of those things will help her determine if you’re in early or active labor. You will be admitted to the birth center when you’re in active labor (which is after 6cm dilated). If you hire a doula, they can also be with you at your home and will know how to look for signs that you’re getting close to active labor.
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Why does my midwife recommend hiring a Doula?

A doula helps support both you & your partner in labor. They are especially helpful with first-time moms (or moms planning an unmedicated birth after having a previous epidural birth). They can help you with comfort measures and coping techniques in labor. They can also help you stay nourished, hydrated, and avoid maternal exhaustion by getting rest intermittently throughout your labor. They provide valuable emotional & physical support during labor. A doula can take the stress off your shoulders of you needing to determine when it’s time to call the midwife… she will do that for you. It also takes a lot of pressure off dad to be the perfect birth coach! The doula can help your partner know the best ways to support you when you’re in labor so he doesn’t have to feel uncertain about how to help you (especially because it may be hard for them to see their partners in pain).
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Does Intimate Journey recommend a childbirth education course?

One hundred percent!! Taking a childbirth education course is just as important as hiring a Doula. The more you can educate yourself and prepare, the more successful you will be at having your unmedicated birth. There are many options to choose from but we recommend a course specific to out-of hospital birth, because it will focus on teaching you labor coping techniques and the stages of labor (rather than a hospital course, which is more focused on hospital policy & medical interventions). Here at Intimate Journey Birth & Wellness Center, we provide in person classes or have

I am often asked as a Licensed Midwife…

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What if something goes wrong?

First of all, most people don’t realize that midwifery has been shown to be safer than a hospital birth. It is very rare that we encounter emergency complications, primarily because of the close monitoring and thorough care that we give our clients for 9 months. However, the act of birth can occasionally offer its own surprises in any environment, and we are trained to respond to it. We carry anti hemorrhagic drugs to prevent bleeding & are fully trained in neonatal resuscitation. CPMs are licensed through the Medical board, and our license only allows us to care for clients who are healthy and low risk. A midwife is skilled in assessing and managing the physical and emotional needs of a woman and her family, collaborating and consulting with other providers when indicated.
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How can I deal with the pain without drugs?

Remember, women have been having babies without drugs for thousands of years. Everything you need to give birth is innately inside you and a midwife helps you to achieve this. When you have a good midwife, you won’t need external drugs to have your baby. Our bodies have the inherent ability to produce the best possible coping chemicals inside your body, oxytocin (the love drug) and adrenaline (the body’s energy booster). When you’re surrounded by the support people you love, in an environment that feels good, you trust your body and your midwife & have educated yourself on pain coping mechanisms, you won’t need any artificial drugs.
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What if I need an epidural?

When contractions start slow and steady, our body sends messages to create those NATURAL drugs which increase as labor progresses. When you’re in an uncomfortable environment like the car or hospital, you release less oxytocin which may slow contractions down. In response, you’re given ARTIFICIAL oxytocin (known as Pitocin), to stimulate contractions, that your body can’t catch up with it and cope naturally, thereby causing intense pain, that can then only be alleviated with an epidural. In this unnatural scenario so common inside hospitals, this cascade of events is nearly unavoidable and now commonplace and expected.
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What if the cord is wrapped around the baby's neck?

This is actually quite common: 1 in 3 babies have what they can a nuchal cord. Remember, baby is still getting oxygen from the cord, even if it’s wrapped around them. As midwives, we simply unwrap it, maneuver the baby through it, or in extremely rare cases, we will safely cut it to allow the baby to be born.