by SOPHIE BIRD
Indiana is a dangerous place to be a pregnant person. With one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the United States, Indiana sees approximately 50 people die of pregnancy-related complications for every 100,000 live births each year.
To combat these grim statistics, two Bloomington residents— medical IT professional Julie Duhon and Haddie Katz, a Certified Professional Midwife—are founding Tandem Community Birth Center and Postpartum House. A nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, it will open in 2022 providing midwifery and birth services, routine reproductive care, and postpartum support.
The birth center, an alternative to hospital or home births, will be staffed by certified nurse midwives who will collaborate with doctors’ offices and hospital staff to offer a holistic approach that “treats individuals as though they are knowledgeable about their own bodies,” says Duhon.
The center, which will be able to support about 75 of Monroe County’s 2,000 births each year, will accomodate water births, which Katz says aren’t typically available in Bloomington outside of a home birth environment.
Care will also continue after birth, during the period Katz and Duhon refer to as the “fourth trimester.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one third of maternal deaths occur more than a week after birth, when individuals are no longer being seen regularly by the medical professionals that attended them during pregnancy.
At Postpartum House, parents will have access to the expertise of a postpartum doula, along with lactation support, physical therapists, and mental health support. A limited number of overnight beds will allow parents to receive prolonged postpartum care.
“Being able to get respite for a few days and have somebody help hold your baby while you rest or take a shower, or help with breast feeding positions, can be really crucial,” Duhon says. “As far as we know from our research, there are no postpartum houses in the United States.”
Katz and Duhon hope to offer sliding-scale services and to accept Medicaid, making it possible for Tandem to provide care to families of all income levels.
“There has been an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm and support for us,” says Katz. “Long term, we would like the birth center to reinvest whatever revenue we’re creating back into the community.”
For more information or to make a donation, visit tandembloomington.org.