Jillian Huntress, 25, snuggles with her middle child, Levi Riddle, 2, in their Roanoke County home. Levi was birthed at home with the assistance of two midwives in 2010. Huntress said she was left feeling unsatisfied with the hospital birth of her first child, so she looked for other safe options. "It's more than just a baby coming out of a woman," Huntress said. "It makes a mother, and I feel like the birth process can affect a mother for the rest of her life."
Certified professional midwife (CPM) Crystal Fink uses a fetal Doppler to listen to the heartbeat of Jillian's baby during a prenatal visit in the couple's home. Jillian's partner of nine years, J.D. Riddle, 26, and two children, Cohen, 5, and Levi, 2, also attended. During prenatal visits, Fink would measure Huntress' weight, fundal height (size of the uterus) and blood pressure. She would also collect a urine sample and check for swelling.
Jillian and J.D. wait to find out the sex of their baby during an ultrasound at Crystal Springs Imaging.
J.D. kisses Jillian's neck and moves with her contractions on an exercise ball as she actively labors outside of their on Aug. 19, 2012 at 3:00 a.m. J.D. was able to help Jillian through her contractions by reminding her to breathe and by pushing on her back to relieve the pressure of her back labor.
Certified professional midwives (CPMs) Wanda Smith (left) and Crystal Fink (center) monitor Jillian's baby with a fetal Doppler during her contractions, to make sure the baby is handling the contractions well. Jillian moved from her front lawn, to her living room and finally to her bedroom while she was in labor.
Fink listens to Charlize Lucille's lungs, moments after she was born. Charlize was born weighing seven pounds and 10 ounces. Jillian birthed on her bed, which was covered with a clean sheet over a plastic sheet,to protect the bedding. Rescue Remedy was applied to Charlize's temples and wrists to calm her as she took her first few breaths of air.
One hour after birth, Fink (left) and Smith (right) thoroughly examine Charlize. They measure her length from head to toe, and also the circumference of her head and torso. J.D. holds Levi, who woke up minutes after his baby sister was born. He and Cohen had been sleeping in the next room.
J.D. bonds with his newborn girl, Charlize Lucille while Jillian showers to clean up a little over an hour after birth. The warm, steamy air in the bathroom helps to clear Charlize's nasal passages, and ease her lungs.
Cohen races around his mom, dad, brother and new baby sister in the backyard. Both Levi and Charlize were birthed at home, with the help of certified professional midwives Crystal Fink and Wanda Smith.