Old method, new way

Strasburg resident offers birthing alternative

By Katie Demeria

STRASBURG — Doran Richards started her business because she wanted to give Christian women a refuge.

She started her ministry, Blessing God’s Way, for women 13 years ago. Then, 10 years later, she started her own home business, offering midwifery services to women.

“It’s a ministry for women that teaches women and celebrates and encourages them through all phases of womanhood,” Richards said.

A certified professional midwife, her main service is assisted home birth. She has been licensed with the state of Virginia for several years and was an advocate for the implementation of the state’s licensure program.

According to Richards, the option to give birth at home provides an alternative for women so they are not forced to go through the medical model of birth.

“I wanted to create Christian resources for women within the Christian community, and that means all different kinds of faiths, to give them resources that would address womanhood, in that they would feel safe accessing them,” Richards said.

A majority of her clients give birth in their own homes and she will travel up to an hour in order to assist them. But Richards also provides the option to give birth in the business’s cottage.

The cottage is an additional building on her family’s home property at 460 Orchard St. In a residential area. Kimberly Murray, Strasburg’s economic development and planning manager, said it is considered a home occupation.

“A lot of home birth midwives don’t have the luxury of having a space, they have to travel to each person’s house for every appointment, whereas I feel really blessed to have a place,” Richards said.

Usually trying to cap the number of labors she attends each month at four, Richards has had some mothers choose to give birth in the cottage.

The business has been going well, she said. Within the next year, she plans on expanding, building an addition that will include another prenatal room for births and a large, open space to teach childbirth classes.

Blessing God’s Way supports three employees, including Richards. Jodi Jones is a birth assistant, formerly a medic for 13 years, who is in the process of getting her license and becoming a certified professional midwife. It takes several years to get the license.

That process, Richards said, helps counteract the common misconception that home births are not safe, or that midwives will not take clients to the hospital in emergencies.

“We are trained in all of those emergency situations. That’s part of our training and certification process,” she said. “By law, we have to talk to our clients about transferring care and why we would transfer care. All of that is discussed in great detail.”

Not all women qualify for home births either, Richards pointed out. If a woman has a high-risk pregnancy, she will counsel them that home birth may not be for them.

But her service, she added, does offer an alternative to women who desire it, allowing them to make maternity a safe, spiritual experience.

“We really get to know our clients. We build a relationship before the birth because that is really important when you’re in someone’s home and catching their baby,” Richards said. “We see it as a holistic event.”

To learn more, go to http://www.blessinggodsway.com.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com