“How we welcome our babies into the world matters.” That’s the message Midwife Eileen Stewart wants to communicate. She has dedicated her life to providing health care options that increase women’s comfort and confidence during pregnancy and child birth. In Eileen’s view, child birth is a “sacred rite of passage” and so women need respect and control when choosing circumstances for this family initiatory event.
Eileen’s professional work began at Buffalo General Hospital with Health Care Plan. When she attended her first home birth in 1995, she knew she had found her path. In 1998, she opened Buffalo Midwifery Services on Breckenridge near Elmwood and in 2009, she moved her practice to 289 Summer Street. It looks like any other grand old home on the street, complete with a two car garage, stained glass windows and exquisite woodwork. In the house, there are pre and postnatal exam rooms, a family education room, a few guest rooms, offices and an attic apartment where Eileen and her husband live. Babies don’t arrive on schedule, so Eileen is ready whenever the call comes and last year, she attended nearly one hundred births.
Buffalo Midwifery Services provides the only local option where families can choose the comfort of home for their prenatal care, birthing classes and child birth experience. By the time the baby is ready to arrive, families have knowledge, a support network and understanding of their choices throughout the process. Liz Hays, mother of five spoke of her experience, “During pregnancy, Eileen created a space for self-reflection and practice of relaxation techniques. Having a home birth was a gift to not only me but my whole family and we are truly grateful.”
In her career, Eileen has attended about 1200 births.
In her career, Eileen has attended about 1200 births, she has admitting privileges at Women and Children’s hospital and she is the collaborating midwife at the Birthing Center of Buffalo at 2500 Main Street. Dr. Katharine Morrison heads the Birthing Center where women can participate in health care services including pre and postnatal care and child birthing. The Birthing Center of Buffalo opened on February 14, 2014 and celebrates its birthday every year. In addition to the third birthday this year, it is a celebration of accreditation, which acknowledges their track record of success. Families are welcome to attend the party on Sunday, February 19th from 1:00 until 4:00 p.m. at the Parkside Lutheran Church located at 2 Wallace Avenue.
Of course, it is amazing to witness the birth of a child but considering the hours (yes, they include evenings, weekend and holidays) and the challenges (the tension between the medical and midwifery model), I had to ask Eileen what motivates her. She said she wants it to be different for the next generation by strengthening the bond between mothers and babies. In her kitchen, there is a wood relief of a mother gazing into the eyes of her infant, their noses nearly touching. Creating space for that bond is Eileen’s mission, her passion and her service to upcoming generations.