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 ORANGE, Calif., Feb. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- "When I visited an

obstetrician and told her I wanted to deliver my baby without monitors and medication, she was very surprised," said Mary Ybaben, a 31-year-old expectant mother due to deliver her first child in August.
 "To her credit, the physician said she could put me in an 'alternate birth' category," said Ybaben. "This information would be added to my chart which would 'follow me around' in case I was examined or delivered by other doctors within the obstetrical group. Somehow, this did not satisfy me. I wanted to have the same person follow me during my pregnancy through a normal, drug-free birth."
 The legal secretary and Cal State Fullerton graduate student mentioned her concern to a friend, who is a midwife. "Why don't you visit UCI's new Birthing Center in Anaheim?" advised the friend. "Eight certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) provide prenatal care and deliver babies in a setting similar to a private office suite."
 Ybaben started checking into the Birthing Center, located just a few miles from the home she shares with her husband, Michael. She verified that maternity care at such a center would be covered by their medical insurance. At first, the couple was skeptical of the terms "birthing center" and "midwives." Before making any decisions, the Ybabens toured the facility and met some of the staff.
 "I liked the center's quiet atmosphere," said Mary. "The private rooms were decorated in soft, feminine colors and the birthing rooms were well-equipped.
 "We met several certified nurse-midwives and were impressed by their qualifications and the services provided at the center. All the staff members consider birth as a natural and normal process. I liked the idea of 'one-to-one' care by the same CNM from beginning to end -- and Mike could always be included."
 The couple agreed that the university-affiliated birthing center would be the perfect place for Mary's prenatal care and their baby's birth.
 Mary selected Deborah Walker, CNM, and made an initial appointment with her. Barring complications, Walker will care for Mary throughout her pregnancy, delivery and postpartum care at UCI's Birthing Center.
 Only "low-risk" mothers, or those with uncomplicated pregnancies, are accommodated at the facility. If Mary develops problems during her pregnancy, she will be referred to UCI Medical Center.
 The Ybabens worried about an emergency Caesarean and other problems at delivery. If, at that time, she experienced medical complications, Mary and/or her baby would be transported immediately to the medical center's maternity unit, which is just 2.5 miles away.
 "If any problems develop, we know that UCI faculty physicians would be consulted for collaboration," said Mary. "We have faith in the staff's expertise and knowledge, and in their ability to forecast and handle any emergencies."
 For the next seven months, Walker will regularly examine Mary, check her unborn baby's heartbeat and development, give her nutritional advice and prepare her for childbirth with breastfeeding advice and personal counseling," said Dr. B.J. Snell, Ph.D., CNM, director of nurse- midwifery services. "At the onset, Deborah will help 'manage' Mary's labor and give her 'high-touch' care. Deborah will walk with her, massage her, remind her to drink fluids and coach her through proper breathing and relaxation techniques."
 After the birth of the Ybaben's baby, the new parents will bring their infant back to Walker for a newborn check-up. Six weeks alter, Mary will return for her postpartum visit. In the meantime, she will be able to call her CNM and other staff members with questions about herself, her baby's progress, breastfeeding and other personal matters.
 "At UCI's Birthing Center, we are serving 'low-risk' mothers of all ages," said Snell. "Some women, like Mary, are wary of possible overtreatment and/or the growing numbers of Caesarean sections performed in hospitals. Others like the idea of delivering in a 'low-tech' setting, with husbands, parents, children and other relatives attending."
 Snell continued: "Midwife means 'with woman.' For centuries, women have used midwives to advise and assist them in childbirth. Nurse- midwifery began in rural Kentucky in the 1920s. Currently, there are more than 4,000 certified nurse-midwives practicing in birthing centers like UCI's and/or in private practice in all 50 states and in other countries around the world."
 To become certified, a nurse-midwife is educated in two disciplines: nursing and midwifery. The nurse-midwife must complete a course of study in an accredited educational program and pass a rigorous examination administered for the American College of Nurse-Midwives by the ACNM Certification Council Inc. In addition, each state has its own individual licensure requirements.
 "The CNMs at UCI's Birthing Center are especially well-qualified," said Snell. "Collectively, they have delivered hundreds of babies. All the CNMs on our staff hold faculty appointments as assistant clinical professors; several have earned or are working on doctorates or master's degrees."
 Midwives play a major role in countries like France, where every woman is assured of prenatal care. In the United States, barely 70 percent of all mothers receive proper attention before delivery. Lack of access to obstetric, nutritional and educational care attributes to low birth weights and the nation's high infant mortality rate.
 "UCI's Birthing Center hopes to do something about this tragedy, at least on a local level," said Snell. "During our first year, we can accommodate up to 1,500 'low-risk' births and eventually, up to maximum of 3,000 annually. Our certified nurse-midwives will help expectant mothers have normal pregnancies and healthier babies. Today, a woman has a choice about her maternity care."
 For further information about UCI's Birthing Center, located at 300 W. Cerritos Ave., Bldg. 7, Anaheim, CA, call 714-634-7200.
 -0- 2/25/92
 /CONTACT: Dorothy Jean of UCI Medical Center, 714-634-5496/ CO: UCI Medical Center ST: California IN: HEA SU:

JL-CH -- LA033 -- 2502 02/25/92 16:08 EST
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Date:Feb 25, 1992

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