One of the things I learned during my pregnancies is that American childbirth has been dominated by everyone except the people actually giving birth since sometime in the 18th century when childbirth became increasingly medicalized. Unfortunately, many MDs (NOT all!) can get stuck doing things their way—generally based on outdated pregnancy and childbirth textbooks that have yet to take into account more current, evidenced-based research. As a (no longer practicing) board-certified clinical chaplain, I know hospitals and MDs have a VERY important function. But while they are undoubtedly an excellent choice for complicated or high-risk pregnancies, working with midwives, like Seven Sisters Midwifery, for your primary maternal care lets you have more agency in your pregnancy and delivery.
Working with midwives can mean many things: you might work with midwives that work in a practice alongside OBGYNs (this was my choice!). Others give birth with midwives at home, and still others give birth at birch centers. Birth centers are a happy medium for mothers who want a birth outside of a hospital but don’t want to commit to a home birth. They often allow you to have a delivery where you’re more in control of your experience, although of course birth is unpredictable to say the least! Had there been a birth center located closer to me, I likely would have opted for it, but unfortunately eastern Massachusetts is currently sorely lacking for independent birth centers.
Built to feel more like a home and less like a clinical unit, Seven Sisters Midwifery’s birth center has rooms with comfortable beds and spacious tubs. During labor, you can relax, walk around between contractions (either inside or outside in the gardens!), eat snacks, and labor how you see fit. It’s equipped with specialty tools midwives might need throughout labor, although you won’t find certain things that are more common in hospitals. For example, you can expect that the midwives will use a doppler periodically to check on your baby during labor, but you won’t find the continuous fetal monitors that are common in hospital L&D suites.
Toward the end of this post, I’ve quoted a real-life mama (my friend Rachel, pictured below!) who used Seven Sisters Midwifery for the last two of her pregnancies and deliveries so that you get the chance to hear from someone with direct experience of the practice.
About Seven Sisters Midwifery
Seven Sisters opened its doors in the summer of 2020 with one goal: to be a holistic center where women could receive gynecological and prenatal care and feel empowered through childbirth. Co-founded by midwives Ginny Miller and Kirsten Kowalski-Lane, the center was the first independent, midwife-run birth center in Massachusetts. Both Ginny and Kristen spent time in traditional hospital settings serving as certified nurse midwives. By the time the center opened its doors, the pair had already attended 5,000 births between them in their respective practices!
Today, Seven Sisters Midwifery stands as a safe space for any family, regardless of its composition. They believe in running an inclusive birth center where delivery is an empowering experience for all. As founders of the first birth center in Massachusetts, the midwives were groundbreakers who faced down skepticism and rapidly changing laws while setting out, but they pushed through. Today, they remain passionate about providing care for the families of Massachusetts.
Since opening, they have added additional midwives as well as registered nurses to their team. Located at 74 Maple Street in Florence, they serve families within an hour radius of the center. Seven Sisters combines traditional, holistic birthing techniques with modern technology to make your birth safe AND empowering.
Maternity Care Services
Certified nurse midwives (CNMs), licensed medical practitioners who complete extensive training and obtain clinical training, experience, and certification, are there for you through every stage of pregnancy. Seven Sisters Midwifery limits their birth clients to just 15 due dates per month, so the midwives have more time to spend getting to know you and creating an individualized care plan. For urgent needs, you’ll have access to a midwife at any time of the day.
Care from Seven Sisters Midwifery is always personal. Since they aren’t working under the red tape of hospital policy (nor having to find the funds for hospital-level overhead costs), they are able to take their time with each patient, with prenatal visits lasting close to an hour so that they can get to know mamas intimately (much more relaxed than the 10-minute in-and-out rotating door prenatal appointments at most practices!).
It’s worth noting that delivering at birth centers tends to be less expensive than delivering in a hospital, and Seven Sisters Midwifery works hard to make their care accessible to every income level. They accept many major insurances, including MassHealth.
The center serves parents within an hour’s radius of the birth center. It aims to be a safe place for any kind of family. When you choose a midwife at Seven Sisters, you are choosing a powerful advocate. Your midwife will ensure you are a good candidate for a birth center delivery. This is solely for the safety of you and your baby. Unfortunately, higher-risk pregnancies might require greater monitoring and increased access to potential medical interventions. Above all, midwives are committed to creating a plan that’s right for you!
The Pregnancy and Delivery Journey with Seven Sisters Midwifery
Throughout your pregnancy, you’ll attend prenatal visits at which the midwives will check to ensure everything is progressing as it should and get to know you. Alongside your midwife, you will also make a birth plan. While the midwives of Seven Sisters understand that delivery can be unpredictable and requires a bit of flexibility, they are also committed to helping you see your vision through.
When labor begins, you will come to the center and be given one of two rooms with a warm bed and a luxurious birthing tub. You can bring the support people of your choice (partner, family, etc.) and work through labor however you feel most comfortable. You can bounce on a birthing ball, stroll through the facilities, or rest as you need. If you’d like to use hydrotherapy or have a water birth, your midwife will help you into the birthing tub and remain by your side as you labor. You will be in control, but you’ll never be alone! While unlikely, should access to emergency services become necessary, you’ll be transferred to Cooley Dickinson Hospital/MGH, a mile-ish down the road.
Once your baby arrives, the two of you will be tended by the midwife and nurses (after plenty of skin-to-skin, of course!). They won’t hover, as the goal is to allow you to bond with your baby, but they’ll look after you for 6-12 hours to make sure you’re doing well and everyone is healthy. If you plan to breastfeed, they’ll help you get your bearings and troubleshoot if you’re finding it to be a challenge. After your midwife ensures you’re recovering well, you can go home and begin life with your newest family member within about 6-12 hours of your baby’s entrance into the world.
While birth centers don’t require lengthy stays, your care from Seven Sisters Midwifery doesn’t end when you walk out of the birth center. They will visit you at home the day after your child is born to make sure you and the baby are still doing well, and you’ll also see them for other postpartum visits to ensure you’re adapting well. They’re here for you for every significant moment!
Beyond their birthing services, Seven Sisters Midwifery offers general well-woman services and reproductive healthcare, including fertility treatments, artificial insemination, and birth control. Seven Sisters is here to give you an advocate in women’s healthcare!
A Mom’s Experience: In Her Own Words
While I hope all the information above about Seven Sisters Midwifery has been helpful, sometimes I think it’s best to hear from someone who has actually been under the care of the practice. My friend Rachel, whose beautiful family is pictured in this post (and whose fourth baby has now joined us earth-side!) was kind enough to share her experience. For context, before she found Seven Sisters, she birthed her first two children in a hospital with a mainstream midwifery group. At the time she felt that her care was fine, but she wanted a change of pace for her third birth.
“Prenatal care with Seven Sisters Midwifery feels a lot like sitting on the couch with a good friend, warm tea in hand, chatting about what you made for dinner last night. You’ll be offered water or tea in the waiting room before you find yourself lounging on a cozy daybed while listening to baby’s heartbeat and chatting with your midwife about nutrition, vitamin and supplement options, your hopes for birth, your older children, and what your week was like. I’ve always left my appointments feeling like they (midwives, nurses, even Katie the office manager!) truly care about me as a person, not just the vessel by which my baby enters the world.
“While I had succeeded in my goal of natural birth in the hospital, I felt the weight of having to fight and defend making choices that might go against ‘hospital policy’ like monitoring my own blood sugar instead of drinking glucola, eating during labor or refusing certain interventions when not medically indicated. The ever-changing Covid policies were the icing on top that pushed me out of the hospital, seeking a birth center. Seven Sisters, the only freestanding midwife-owned and -operated birth center in the state quickly became my number one choice, and thankfully they had space for me as I transferred into their care in my third trimester!
“After my first prenatal appointment with Kirsten I remember stepping out of the office and feeling like I could finally exhale after months (years at that point) of fighting for bodily autonomy and informed consent—almost as if I never realized how much easier it could be! The rest of pregnancy and birth I felt fully informed and in control of every choice we made.”
Seven Sisters Midwifery
Birth centers are a fantastic option for anyone wanting more agency during their pregnancy and delivery. The midwives at Seven Sisters are here to make your voice heard. With decades of experience and hundreds of happy clients, Seven Sisters Midwifery is an excellent choice for low-risk pregnant people looking for an individualized care plan.
As you’re working on your birth plan, make sure you have a photographer! I’m a Greater Boston-based maternity and newborn photographer, and I serve families all over Massachusetts. Contact me today so we can book your session!