Our Midwives

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 and 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 and 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.

 

Natalie Amram RM

I grew up in Edmonton with my parents and my sister, but with a very big (55 cousins and counting!) and close-knit extended family around the world. Visiting my family was always an adventure. They are loud and strong-minded, everyone has their own opinion, but of course, everyone thinks they are each right. You could never tell who lived where, with everyone stopping over to eat something, drop off their kids to be watched, or cousins going to play with each other. Being surrounded with a deep sense of supporting family and community, I always imagined myself working with women, children, and families.

 

I moved to Vancouver in 2004 to complete my degree in Biology. I then took a year off and volunteered with a maternity care research group. The researcher I worked with was very passionate and loved to talk about what research really tells us. He opened my eyes to how the education and care we give families can make all the difference. I also became a birth doula in several programs, volunteering with young moms, substance using moms, and new immigrant families. I came into midwifery when I saw how midwives spent time developing relationships, supporting women to make their own informed decisions, and how families could become incredibly empowered through their pregnancy and birth.


Through my midwifery education at UBC, I’ve learned from many families in Vancouver, Kelowna, and Uganda. My love for traveling and learning about different cultures has also led me to work with midwives and physicians in Israel, rural Ecuador, and Mexico. I speak English, Hebrew, and Spanish. When not catching babies, I enjoy getting lost in Stanley Park, curling up in bed reading books, and exploring BC.

 

 

Courtney Broten RM

Pregnancy, birth, and mothering has always fascinated to 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 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.