Now Offering Group Prenatals
We're very excited to now be offering the option of group prenatal appointments! Each appointment will have content we'll cover together, and then a series of individual mini-appointments to check on you and your Baby, with folk bringing and sharing potluck snacks and asking and sharing advice about all things pregnancy- and baby-related whilst we cycle through these mini appointments! Non-clients are welcome to attend these sessions for information on pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, though clinical care is not offered to these individuals. For more details, see the Midwifery Care page.
What is a Midwife?
A midwife is a skilled healthcare provider who supports clients during pregnancy, labor, birth and in the first few weeks postpartum. There are several different kinds of midwife in the USA, including:
Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), who train directly into midwifery with didactic training as well as an apprenticeship, and who thus have a deep knowledge of prenatal, intrapartum (during labor and birth) and postpartum care.
Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs), who first qualify as nurses and then specialize as midwives through didactic and clinical training, and who thus have a broad knowledge on all aspects of care from initiation to cessation of menstruation, though much of their care still revolves around pregnancy and birth.
Lay Midwives, who train through an apprenticeship, and who again specialize in pregnancy, birth and postpartum care. Due to recent changes to the law, no new LMs will be licensed in Texas. On the border, some Lay Midwives are OBs who qualified in Mexico.
In some states, midwives do not need to be licensed at all. Luckily, this is not the case for Texas.
Is Out of Hospital Birth Safe?
Research shows that, if a pregnant person has prenatal care throughout pregnancy and delivers with a midwife (at home or in a birth center), the mortality risk to either the baby or the pregnant person is as low as it is for someone with comparable health who births in a hospital. However, the risk of medical problems caused by the birth is lower for midwifery clients because the rates of interventions such as cesareans and assisted deliveries in those who plan an out of hospital birth are significantly lower.
Medical emergencies do happen, even under the care of a midwife, but midwives are trained to spot problems early and transport to a hospital for additional help, or, if there is an emergency, to treat the person until additional help arrives or the problem is resolved.
“Childbirth should be a natural event that occasionally needs medical help, not a medical event that occasionally happens naturally.”
What is a Doula?
A doula helps care for people at 'challenging times' during their lives. They are not responsible for any medical care or decisions, and most are not medically trained. There are many different kinds of doulas:
Labor and birth doulas help care for the pregnant person and any support people with them, primarily during labor and birth and in the couple of hours after birth, but also provide support with non-medical issues in the weeks before or after the birth. They would normally go to a laboring person before the midwife is called or the individual transfers to birth center or hospital, and provide continuous support until after the birth. Most will support people through a miscarriage, and many will provide support through abortions.
Postpartum doulas help families in the early days and weeks after a birth, with household chores, simple baby care, helping older siblings adjust, and other things that may be needed.
End of life doulas support individuals and their loved ones as their death approaches, and are often there to provide comfort at the time of death and to those left behind afterwards.
Even if you plan to give birth at home, you'll attend the birth center for almost all of your appointments (see FAQs for more details), and you're in for a treat! The birth center is in a beautiful location, surrounded by trees and a working garden. There's a room for family and friends, an office for appointments, two gorgeous birth rooms, and an artificial beach for either appointments or births. The birth center is licensed through the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. There are lots of photographs in the Gallery, but here's a sneak peek of where your baby might be born:
The beautiful cherry tree has powerful roots, strong enough to crack open hard ground.
This birth room brings the outdoors indoors. Here, you can be surrounded by Mother Nature's beauty as you work with a Mother's Nature to bring your baby earthside. We want nothing but the best for our clients, and so have installed a stunning custom-made clear birth pool that allows your supporters to see the baby's birth, and enables you to get gorgeous birth photos or video. (Privacy screens can be added if you prefer.) To aid positioning during labor, the cherry tree can be used to support you in a birth sling, and the room also has a walk-in bathroom with a shower that can help with pain-relief.
As your baby crowns, labor nears its end. You will soon be crowned "life-giver".
In this room, you will labor with the dignity you deserve, leaving everyone around you filled with awe at your grace and your power. The specially designed and custom-made 'birth throne' is a new take on a traditional birth stool, and allows for ideal positioning for the delivery of your baby. The decor is beautifully regal, with wainscoting, damask wallpaper and champagne-gold accents, and makes for unique and stunning birth photographs. The room has a walk-in bathroom with a shower, which can be used to relieve pain, and an inflatable birth pool can be available.
Ride the Waves
As the lighthouse stands strong for those in the waters, so will you.
This is the most unique birth space we have, and that's saying something! Walking back here, you'll be transported to your own private beach, with golden sand between your toes (and nowhere else!) and hints of a relaxing horizon in the distance. To help with positioning during labor, we have a custom static windsurfer on our mini ocean, and of course have beach toys for children. And what is a beach without water? You can give birth in the birth pool, or just relax there before moving to the double sun-lounger for the birth. This is a fun and relaxing space, and makes for a wonderful story and pictures!
Heart of Gaia Midwifery Services
Why "Heart of Gaia"? Gaia is the mythical Greek goddess who birthed the earth. She embodies the strength and nobility we see in clients as they labor and give birth, and she is deeply intertwined with nature, creating new life within her, nurturing and growing it, and then delivering it into the world. The imagery of the name "Heart of Gaia" can be whatever you want to see in it, but we see it in two beautiful different ways. Firstly, we see our clients as having the same strong and noble hearts as Gaia, and, secondly, we see our clients as being held deep in the heart of 'Mother Nature'.
We believe that a pregnant person's body and mind were both built to be gentle enough to grow new life from a tiny embryo, and yet strong enough to carry that life and birth the baby with power and with patience. To that end, we support you throughout your pregnancy, ensuring that both you and your baby are healthy. For you, this means we work to ensure that you understand what is happening to you and why, that you eat a healthful diet, exercise in ways that help prepare your body for your coming birth, and that you get the self-care and care from others that you need and deserve. As you approach the birth, we will see you often to monitor you and your baby, and to answer any questions or calm any concerns you may have surrounding the birth and the time afterwards.
Once you are in labor, you will be in close contact with us so that we can ensure that you are coping well both physically and mentally, and will help you decide when it is time for you to come to the birth center or for us to go to you if you are having a home birth. We will then remain by your side (or within calling distance, if you are resting or prefer solitude for a time), monitoring both you and your baby regularly, and assisting with techniques to help the baby descend and to help you through contractions. When you are ready to push, we will help you listen to the cues from your body and your baby and to work with them. You will deliver your baby with love and strength, and we'll "catch" your baby, as we say in the profession (or will help a birthing partner to do the catch). We'll ensure that both you and your baby cope well with the transitions after birth, and that there is plenty of bonding time with your new baby. After the Golden Hour, we'll perform a thorough newborn exam. Once you and your baby are deemed to be ready, you'll then head home or, if you're already home, we'll head home. Over the next few days and weeks, we'll check on you and your baby often, ensuring that you get the best possible start to this new phase of your lives.
Jen Gabler Midwife
Jen cares for her clients through their prenatal and postpartum appointments, as well as during and after their labor and birth.
Jen is originally from the UK, where she gained a Bachelor's degree in mathematics, a Master's degree in statistics and computer science, and a graduate certificate in education. After teaching high school mathematics for a few years, she moved to the US and studied for a Master's degree in geophysics at Rice University in Houston. There, she met and married her husband, who is now a professor at UTRGV; the two now have three wonderful children. After a brief stint as a researcher in the oil and gas industry, during which Jen had a beautiful home birth herself, she finally realized her true passion was serving in the birth world.
Jen trained through the Association of Texas Midwives' Midwifery Training Program, and is both a Licensed Midwife with the State of Texas, and a Certified Professional Midwife through the North American Registry of Midwives. Jen supports the local Holy Family birth center through fundraising efforts and by having served as Secretary on the Board of Directors, and supports midwifery across Texas by serving as Treasurer on the Association of Texas Midwives Board of Directors.
Jen has a rich national and personal heritage of midwifery, and passionately believes that everyone with a low risk pregnancy should have the right to birth safely in an out-of-hospital setting, monitored, supported, nurtured and encouraged by a gentle yet strong midwife. If you live in the RGV and are looking for a midwife or doula, Jen would love to serve you.