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New birthing center coming to Central Texas

Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 11:12 PM CDT
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - The Starting Place Birth and Wellness Center, a non-profit center working under Heartline Ministries, will open its doors to the community Tuesday, focusing on the underserved minority community in Bell County.

Co-founders Tara Livesay and Beth Johnson are midwives, offering prenatal, delivery and postpartum care at their Temple center, after working with Heatline Ministries in Haiti for several years.

“At a disproportionate rate black women are dying at childbirth and women’s needs are not totally being met with the healthcare system, [in Bell County],” Livesay said.

The pair also considered Memphis, Tennessee and Montgomery, Alabama where they say similar issues are present, but ultimately settled on a building at 720 N Third Street Temple to bring their services.

Livesay watched the maternity center she worked at in Haiti grow from the ground up and says it gave her an understanding of what it takes to launch a successful facility here.

She and Johnson met doing work there, after Johnson came for what she thought would be a few months but ultimately stayed for seven years.

But they were ready to expand their services outside Haiti.

“For something to be sustainable in Haiti it really can’t depend on our every day presence, we wanted to be able to turn it over to local midwives,” Livesay said.

The process to train the staff there took about four years. Johnson says healthcare training is much different in Haiti and their priority in training the staff was to shower women in love, support and respect as soon as they walked in the door.

“They’ll see our medical abilities later, we wanted them to know we were here for them first,” Livesay added.

About 1,200 babies were born under their care in Haiti and they hope to keep that number growing in Temple.

“The nice thing about midwifery is that the same person that does your prenatal care is the person with you in delivery and is the person that comes to your house the day after the baby is born,”

They say that after speaking with local hospitals they quickly learned that women with low risk pregnancies were waiting long periods of time to get appointments scheduled.

Birthing Centers like theirs allow women with low risk pregnancies to have longer appointment times to have all their needs assessed including their mental health.

The center also offers support groups for new and expecting moms, which they say is one of the biggest takeaways for moms.

“Moms love the community that they create,” Livesay said. “They go through pregnancy together, share birthing stories and then come back once their babies are born and all have the shared experienced.”

“They’re able to talk to other people who are also sleep deprived and understand the experiences that they’re all going through,” Livesay added.

While The Starting Place wasn’t open during the pandemic, Livesay and Johnson say they’ve seen how much its sparked an interest in midwifery.

“Mom’s didn’t know if their spouse, or birth photographer, or sister could be in the room with them in the hospital,” Johnson explained.

“Plus there were fears about going to the hospital in general where the virus was present, but many midwives go into people’s homes so it gave so many people peace of mind during that time,” Johnson said.

They think the increase will continue even as the pandemic ends.

“Because of the pandemic they’re hearing from people who have had beautiful experiences [with midwives], then at least they’ll look into it and know what the options are instead of just thinking there’s one choice of going to the hospital,” Livesay said.

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