Megan Stewart’s birthing experience with her first child was not at all what she’d dreamed it would be.
Knowing the baby was expected to be large, her doctor convinced her it would be best to have her labor induced prior to the due date and deliver the baby by cesarean section.
In turn, she labored for many long hours because, in her opinion, her baby was not yet ready to be born.
Stewart vowed things would be different with her second pregnancy.
After much research, she decided to enlist the services of a midwife instead of an obstetrician for her baby’s prenatal care and at-home delivery.
Her midwife of choice was Charlie Rae Young, who, in addition to making house calls, conducts prenatal low-risk pregnancy exams and checkups every Wednesday inside her one-of-a-kind Barefoot Birth bus she drives and parks near the playground at the University Area Community Center, 14013 N. 22nd St.
Her “office” hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and while Young prefers that her clients schedule appointments so as not to be rushed, walk-up clients also are welcomed on the bus, a retired and revamped bloodmobile.
The location, Young believes, is a perfect fit for the service she provides because it’s in a low-income neighborhood, where many residents have no personal means of transportation to get to doctors’ offices or health centers.
“This area has some of the highest infant morbidity rate in the county,” she said.
Her pay structure, she noted, is set on a sliding scale based on a client’s level of income. It ranges from $10 to $50 per visit. In addition, clients are charged the same discounted fee Young pays for lab tests.
Should they select to birth their babies at home with Young present, she charges $6,000, an amount she said is typically $7,000 less than a hospital delivery. Clients are required to pay upfront and some are reimbursed by their insurance carriers.
For expectant moms of little means and no insurance, Young is happy to help them get signed up for Medicaid benefits, if they qualify.
Young’s way of handling people with payment difficulties was music to the ears of Stewart, whose husband lost his job shortly after she became pregnant.
The midwife’s knowledge, caring demeanor and consulting relationship with several Tampa General Hospital physicians appealed to Stewart as well.
It also was comforting to her that Young, a state licensed graduate of the Florida School of Traditional Midwifery, never rushed during her checkups.
“Charlie is very educated but very spiritual and she made me feel really confident,” said Stewart, who recently gave birth at home to her second child.
Young said she gets to know her clients and their families well over the course of time she spends with them. She doesn’t discourage parents from involving their other children and even has a secured playpen she’s equipped with some toys inside the bus.
“I think it makes a big difference in the outcome,” said Young, who, as a side note, also is willing to fax clients’ records to doctors on call at TGH if they opt for a hospital delivery.
When Tia Wood moved to Holiday from out of state, she was pregnant and in need of finding a midwife. Her two other children were born at home and she wished the same for her third baby.
Wood learned about Young via Facebook.
“Charlie provided everything I wanted and more,” she said. “It was a wonderful experience.”
When Melanie Anselmo, who also had two other youngsters whom she birthed at home, heard raving reviews about Young, she decided to use her services early last year when she became pregnant with her fifth child, born on Nov. 1.
“She was always very respectful, but tough when she had to be,” Anselmo said. “It was like having your best friend with you. She became part of the family.”
Young hopes to also take her bus and prenatal care services into other low-income Tampa Bay area communities.
To learn more, visit www.barefootbirth.com or call (813) 515-0825.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]