Saraswathi Vedam | RM, CNM, MSN, Sci. D
I am an Indian woman who grew up between India and the United States. My midwifery education began in my mother's home, a mecca for the pregnant and nursing mothers in the growing Indian community at Penn State University. During the summers I visited India to meet my large extended family, of whom five were obstetric providers. By the time I was a teenager, they took me along when they cared for families, sometimes in the Bombay slums, in rural settings, in tertiary care hospitals, emergency rooms, and maternity homes. I was immersed in pregnancy as normalcy, and exposed to women working with women.
In 1985, I received a Master of Science in Nursing and Midwifery from Yale University. Over the last 25 years, I have been privileged to witness the transformative power of birth while serving women in my own midwifery practices in the San Francisco Bay area, Indianapolis, Connecticut, and Vancouver. I have also enjoyed teaching midwifery and medical students across the US and Canada.
Before moving to Vancouver in 2007, to be Director of the Division of Midwifery at UBC, I was on faculty at Yale, and my clinic, Birth & Beyond, a full-scope private midwifery practice, prepared Yale midwifery and medical students for practice in out-of-hospital, low resource, and international settings. Most important to my growth, though, has been my journey as a mother. I am the mother of four remarkable young women, all born at home.
The enduring thread along the path to my consciousness as a midwife and as an academic is my commitment to serve women across birth settings and across cultures. My passions and convictions are met and nurtured especially through planned home birth, where I believe it is most possible to support a woman’s self-realization, and a peaceful transition for a growing family. Whether or not the birth is completed at home, or without intervention, exemplary midwifery means walking with families as they negotiate the health care system, remaining mindful of their own cultural context, and advocating for the preservation of the essentials of undisturbed birth for women and babies. The quality of our mutual regard and confidence means everything, as together we explore the research and options for care, react to expected and unexpected events, or embrace the spirituality inherent in birth, and in abiding friendships.
Quinn Metcalfe | RM, MA
I have lived in Vancouver most of my life, and I love providing care to women and families in the community with Birth & Beyond. My journey in midwifery began right here at UBC, with my degree in Anthropology, where I learned about the many fascinating practices, beliefs and customs of different cultures surrounding pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing.
My interest in other cultures led me to a love of travel. I have lived in Sweden, France and Peru and traveled extensively through Europe, North America, South America and Asia. Travel and my studies reinforced for me the central role that support and community can play in growing healthy families- support that is not always easy to find in the context of our own culture’s value for independence. My belief in the importance of community support led me further along my path to midwifery, where I feel passionately about the role of a midwife in supporting women and their families.
Another stop along that path was a Masters degree in International Studies from SFU, specializing in Complex Emergencies. I wrote my thesis about the vital role of women’s empowerment in reducing maternal mortality in Uganda and other developing nations. I am happy to have the opportunity to facilitate the empowerment of women and families here at home by engaging in a partnership in decision making and promoting informed choice in every aspect of care.
I have had the great fortune of working and learning with many great midwives in many settings. I did part of my training here with Birth & Beyond, which I have always felt was my midwifery home. Since then I had the challenging and rewarding opportunity to travel to Uganda and work with women and midwives there, seeing for myself what the consequences may be for poor and disempowered women giving birth there. I spent a year in the rural setting of Squamish where I worked with the amazing midwives and families of the Sea-to-Sky corridor.
I am happy to be here in my midwifery home and community, and enjoy meeting all the new families and new additions to the families I know.
Courtney Broten | RM, MHPE, McAc
Pregnancy, birth, and mothering have always fascinated me. My earliest experiences on my family’s farm profoundly shaped my views of birth, bonding and breastfeeding. I grew up on a hobby farm watching with tremendous awe and respect while the animals delivered their babies. My closet was the choice birth site for many of our cats. I would often stay up until the early morning hours to quietly watch the calves deliver. I further honed my watchful expectancy skills with goats and sheep on a ranch in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. There I learned the importance of undisturbed birth for mother and newborn bonding, and for the successful establishment of breastfeeding. By sitting with a variety of animals while they laboured I have observed the interconnectedness of life and the profoundly transformative experience birth can be for any creature.
Human childbirth is a biological, phsychological and spiritual process. My childhood experiences with animal birth as well as my attendance at hundreds of birthing women’s labours has lead me to believe that when babies are born in an undisturbed environment they are immediately and mutually bonded for life with their family. I think that a normal birth is achievable when women feel physically, emotionally, and culturally safe, which can occur at home or in hospital when they have a well established relationship of mutual regard with their care provider. My expertise in various techniques to promote comfort and progress of labour, including certification in acupuncture, provides me with the opportunity to assist women to achieve an unmedicated birth. My belief is that women want to actively participate in their own health care and my role is to provide evidence-based resources and guidance for them to make informed decisions.
Since completing my degree in Midwifery at Laurentian University in 2006, I have cared for a diverse group of women through their pregnancies and births in both rural and urban settings in British Columbia. I helped to found Birth & Beyond the Midwifery Faculty Practice at UBC along with a group of experienced and kindhearted midwives. Since 2010, I have served as Course Lead and Clinical Instructor with the Division of Midwifery at UBC. I have taught many dynamic and inspiring midwifery students, in addition to being a clinical preceptor to nursing, midwifery and medical students. I pursued a Master's degree in Health Professional Education to develop my passion for education and research. I also have strong ties to the Kootenays, where I spend much of my time learning about maternity care in rural communities of BC. In all of these roles, I have been privileged to serve women in the creation of their families and beyond and have seen time and again how a peaceful, satisfying pregnancy, labour and birth has the potential to create a life-long foundation of loving, healthy families and communities.
Michelle Turner | RM, MA
I’m so glad to be working with the team at Birth & Beyond Midwives. Along with my practice partners, I have a strong commitment to evidence based research, informed decision making and relationship-based care.
My journey to midwifery in some ways started with me attending the birth of my half brother at home into the hands of midwives when I was in my early 20s. In other ways it started before then, myself having had the opportunity to live in remote communities in Australia and having an anthropologist for a father, which opened me to different community configurations, understandings of health and ways of being in the world. As an adult, my background in community work and maternal child health research took me to working in Jamaica with midwives, where I started to think of midwifery as a perfect career for me: working with growing communities, applying research and supporting pregnant people through significant transitions. It was the right decision!
Alongside my midwifery degree, I have a degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Guelph and also a strong background in Theatre and Creative Writing. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from midwives and families in Ottawa, rural southwestern Ontario, Jamaica, Attawapiskat and Vancouver, at home and in birth centres, from small rural hospitals to large tertiary centres. I have advanced skills in French and dabble in Spanish and Arabic. In my spare time I enjoy bicycling, yoga, writing, film, theatre and exploring the outdoors. I look forward to working with you!
Marella Falat | RM
I grew up in Fernie, BC, a small town in the Canadian Rockies. Since a young age I knew I wanted to be in a helping profession. In my teens I was introduced to midwifery and after I completed my first degree at UBC it came back to me as a perfect way to combine my interests in public health and supporting women.
In this profession I have the privilege of caring for pregnant people and sweet little babies. I love midwifery care because I get to know each of you, what is important to you, and how best I can support you to have a healthy pregnancy and transition to becoming a parent or adding to your family.
Before midwifery school I completed a BSc in Sustainable Food Systems, Global Health and Latin American Studies at UBC during which I was fortunate to spend some time living and studying in Chiapas, Mexico where I learned about agriculture, politics, indigenous land use and traditional Mayan midwifery. It was there I became interested in birth care in other cultures.
I completed my midwifery training at UBC as well. During the program I was fortunate to work with families across our province and in Nepal. As a midwife I plan to work locally and globally to support safe, respectful and culturally appropriate care.
Outside of midwifery, I spend as much time outdoors as I can with my family and friends. I enjoy cycling, skiing, traveling, cooking, and doing yoga.
Laura Wood | RM
I believe midwifery is about creating trusting relationships, providing evidence based care, facilitating informed choice, and supporting the normalcy of birth. I love being a midwife, and working with families on their journeys to becoming parents is a privilege I feel honoured to hold.
I grew up in Calgary, Alberta as a settler of European heritage. I was introduced to midwifery through a friend who had a midwife for her own pregnancy. I was fascinated by a profession that fundamentally recognized pregnant people as primary decision makers, and supported pregnancy and birth as normal life events.
Along my path to midwifery, I completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Alberta, studying Psychology and Indigenous Studies, trained as a doula, worked as a sexual health educator, and completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2009. I worked for several years at BC Women’s Hospital as a perinatal registered nurse, before continuing my dream of becoming a midwife and enrolling at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario. I completed my Bachelor of Health Sciences in Midwifery with honours in 2014.
Upon graduation, I practiced midwifery in Mississauga, where I had the privilege of working with many families new to Canada, and developed a deep appreciation of the rewards of working with people from different social, economic and cultural backgrounds. Helping people navigate access to health care, and connect with appropriate community resources, are examples of the individualized, supportive practice that I look forward to continuing.
I truly value the joys, challenges and diverse experiences of midwifery. I am thrilled to be back in Vancouver, and look forward to meeting you and being part of your care. In my spare time I can usually be found outdoors- enjoying Vancouver’s many parks, beaches and trails with my family.
As clinical faculty and a teaching practice, we believe in the importance of educating health care practitioners. Students are at the forefront of the latest research in our discipline as well as offer new insight and extra support for families and midwives alike.
Extensive clinical practice is an important component of the midwifery students' curriculum. The students complete a sequence of courses and clinical placements that develops their knowledge and skills in the areas of prenatal, labour and birth, and postpartum and newborn care. Midwifery students are required to work in a relationship with the family using evidenced-based approaches as well as informed choice and decision-making as a foundation for mutual trust and respect.
You may choose to participate in teaching our students and can invite them to participate in your care. If you have any questions about how students will be involved in your care, please discuss this with your midwives.