Lake Washington Midwives
Lake Washington Midwives is one of the two resident practices at PSBC-Kirkland, holding clinic on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Read on to learn about each midwife...
LM, CPM, PSBC Co-owner
The discovery of my life’s calling, amazingly enough, happened on a Mother’s Day. In 1993 I was asked to video and photograph a friend’s home birth. I eagerly said yes, as I was pre-med at the University of Washington and had never attended a birth before. As time disappeared and the awe inspiring process of labor and birth unfolded, I found myself enraptured, at peace, and so grateful for the privilege to bear witness to such a miracle. I felt at home in the atmosphere of birth, and as the first sounds of the newborn rang into the room I realized I had found my calling. Many years have passed, and more than 900 births later I am still in awe of the birthing process, and thrilled that I get to offer the midwifery model of care which I believe in so deeply, to such a diversity of people. What makes our care different, in a word, is listening. My intention when I sit with people in a prenatal visit or during their birthing process is to offer a quality of listening within the moment. This allows for a more fluid sense of time to evolve. I believe that within such a quality of timing, everything is possible and balance and a sense of flow are more accessible. Questions find their answers, conversations create connections, and babies discover how to nurse.
I am always learning from this work that I love and the people I meet in it, and always I am humbled by the power that women possess and the wisdom in the eyes of newborns.
I have a similar awe in my garden when new seeds poke their noses through the earth. Gardening in the sanctuary of the land I live on brings me great joy and balance. As well as “catching babies”, tending to growing families, and being one of the owners of Puget Sound Birth Center, I am on faculty at Bastyr University Department of Midwifery. It is only with the support of my incredible wife that I can do all of this, as well as parent our two beautifully passionate tween boys and their tiny toddler sister, and tend to the myriad of four legged and winged creatures we share our home with. My other passions include growing food, baking (I’ve finally mastered the gluten free pie crust!), making pottery, sewing, and being outside listening to the birds.
I grew up in New England and had never heard of midwifery or homebirth until I moved to California after college. There, I met women who had given birth at home, and I was enthralled. It struck me as beautiful, a little crazy and at the same time the most natural thing in the world. I began to learn all I could about birth, and enrolled at Seattle Midwifery School in 2003.
After becoming a Licensed Midwife in 2006 I worked for the next 8 years caring for families on the Olympic Peninsula with my long-time mentor and friend Kathy Luch. I loved being a small-town midwife and seeing bellies, babies, and families growing over the years. My own two sweet fierce daughters were born at home with Kathy's quiet and unflagging support.
When my younger daughter started school, I was ready to work more at this job I love so much. I considered registering as a midwife in Canada, where midwives attend both hospital and home births, and I completed a training program in Toronto to gain hospital birth skills. I embraced the new challenge of managing epidurals and inductions, but Washington midwifery still felt like home to me. The truth is that I don't want to manage birth. I want to support you, and help you feel comfortable and safe, and occasionally offer suggestions and options, and then hold space for you as you find your own unique amazing way to bring your child into the world.
This year marks a full decade for me of being both a midwife and a mother. Both are callings I feel incredibly passionate about, both required a huge leap of faith, and both occasionally involve losing sleep! My decision to become a midwife was in some ways similar to how I tackle tough parenting choices, and to how many of our clients come to choose midwifery care and home or birth center birth—we gather information, do our research, and trust our intuition. Part of what I love about this work is facilitating those choices, listening, and honoring the process as it unfolds. Just like in parenting, there is no perfect way and very few rules, and what’s right for one family might not work for another. We need information, resources, and respectful support—not judgment and not spoon-fed answers.
In order to do both of these oh-so-important jobs of midwife and mother, and to do them well, I need a supportive team, a sense of humor, time to devote to my family, and a moment here and there for reflection and self-care—which for me means running, dancing, gardening, getting out into the woods, and doing the crossword puzzle. My work at the Puget Sound Birth Center with my beloved colleagues feeds my soul, honors my family, and offers me the opportunity to provide care for truly wonderful families. I feel overwhelming gratitude and commitment to this work, my fellow midwives, and the diverse, amazing individuals and families who choose us for their care.
Kaja Powers (née Gibbs)
Birth has been a significant part of my life from my earliest memories. As a daughter of a midwife, some of my first drawings were of women in labor, one of my first jobs was holding babies during postpartum visits, and many of my first adventures were outings to home births. At a young age, I was “midwife” for many a cat, duck, and chicken on my little farm. I guess you could say I was destined to work in this field!
I began my educational pursuit in nursing school at the University of Hawaii at Manoa with the goal to become a Certified Nurse Midwife, envisioning a way to bridge the gap between home and hospital birth. In 2010, my daughter was born at home, undoubtedly and expediently launching my deeper calling to midwifery. I began studying and birth assisting with the only known home birth midwife on the island of Oahu, and collaborating with other birth workers, which opened my eyes to the great need of midwifery care for the women of Hawaii. Realizing the lack of an educational route to midwifery on the island, I continued my training in California with my mother and other home birth midwives, intent on returning to Oahu with the education and experience necessary to help fill that void. Following, I found a wonderful fit at Puget Sound Birth Center, where I completed my midwifery training. In 2014, I graduated from National College of Midwifery and became a CPM, Certified Professional Midwife and LM, Licensed Midwife.
After working in Washington, it was time for me to return home to Hawaii to continue my work in the women’s health care community as a midwife. I spent the next years with passionate intent to make out-of-hospital birth more accessible and available to families. I worked with the Midwives Alliance of Hawaii, a state wide organization, participated in legislative efforts and experienced working with midwives on Oahu, Big Island and Kauai. I built a private practice from square one, called Born to Birth Midwifery, and combined strengths with BEST Birth Hawaii, a pregnancy and breastfeeding center. I was honored to support many families in their empowering birth stories.
Through my lineage and various experiences, I am continually in awe of the human body’s capabilities and grateful to be of witness and guide to women in their transition into motherhood. There is not a time that I am more present and feel more purposeful than when I am at a birth. Over the course of becoming a midwife and in my various practices, it has been my honor and privilege to serve just over 500 families.
In 2018, a synchronistic full circle event has led me back to Puget Sound Birth Center to answer my question of how to balance my adoration for serving women and families in this most important time of their lives and beginnings of our future generations as well as be a loving mother and wife. This opportunity feels like returning home and I am beyond thrilled to be working in a place of the world that I love and with such inspirational dedicated midwives with nothing less than the highest quality of care!
I am also a photographer and videographer enjoying capturing the authenticity of a moment for clients. While working with my mother in California, together we created a documentary film; ‘The Full Circle of Seasons in the Childbearing Year’ which exemplified the raw power of birthing woman, the roles of partners and the preciousness of new life emerging from informed, prepared, and supported families. Now, I do photography for fun along with family time, adventuring and live with the philosophy of 'carpe diem!'
“I believe women are born to birth. It encompasses two experiences - the way a woman gives birth and the way a baby is born."
I found my way into midwifery during a major transition in my life. At the time I was feeling unfulfilled with my job in advertising and was ready for a career change. I was searching for a field where I could share my heart and passion for supporting women, but I hadn't yet found that field. Desperate for a solution, I tried something new - I began to meditate! How we start our days determines how we spend our days, and I wanted to spend my days doing work that I was passionate about, so I spent 10 quiet minutes every morning before work asking for answers to my career dilemma. It turned out that meditation was not one of my natural talents, so it took a year of practice and patience before I got answers! But it was worth the wait.
As soon as I learned that my lifework is to be a midwife, doors opened rapidly for me. Within a few weeks I was enrolled at National Midwifery Institute and had launched my doula business. I quickly fell in love with witnessing birth and I was delighted by the new information and experiences I was soaking up. Everything about midwifery felt natural and familiar to me - like I had found my way home.
As a student I apprenticed under multiple midwives along the California coast and after graduating I opened my private practice. My practice was founded on my philosophy that pregnancy and birth are normal, healthy experiences for women and babies. However many women in our modern world are missing the education and support system to help navigate the journey to motherhood. My role as a midwife is to offer a woman my attention and knowledge so she feels supported, heard, and educated - I love offering this care! I want women to know that our entire integrated system is built for pregnancy, birth and motherhood. To support that system, I practice integrative medicine which combines traditional and modern medicine for optimal health. This includes paying thoughtful attention to mental and emotional wellness, because our mental game forms our outlook on life and emotions show us what needs our attention.
Running my private practice taught me a great deal about myself, midwifery, contributing to my community and operating a business. It was an important step in my development, however solo practice is not my niche. I am meant to work on a team of midwives, so I began to search for my people - which is how I came to join the amazing women at Puget Sound Birth Center! I look forward to being a part of your journey to motherhood as one of your Lake Washington Midwives!