An Empowering Birth experience is every woman's right.
As women, each of us is born with an innate power to create. Pregnancy, birth and motherhood is a unique era of life where creation is wildly abundant. With all of the many choices that are placed at your feet as you embark upon the journey of creating life, we are here to support and serve you. As your midwives we will provide you with excellent maternity care, including prenatal screening, on-call services, labor, birth (including water birth, if desired), postpartum care and much more. Our work and truly our joy is to provide you with adequate education, holistic guidance, mental, emotional, and physical care and resources that will enable you to make informed choices for your body, your baby, and your family. This will lead to an empowered and healing birth no matter what your birth experience may be, because you will be fully supported in your choices every step of the way.
Hannah Dunford, CPM, LDEM
I went to my first home birth when I was just 4 years old (my little sister) and I haven't stopped attending births since then. There is a certain feeling and energy about birth that I haven't experienced anywhere else, I suppose you could say that I am addicted to it!
This life-long love and deep interest in childbirth and women's health felt like a calling to me and became more of a reality when I became a doula and started studying midwifery at age eighteen. I apprenticed with many midwives (CPM's and CNM's) in Utah, Oregon and Arizona assisting in many home births and birth-centers births. In 2010 I had beautiful experiences doing midwifery volunteer work in and out of hospitals in Haiti and The Domincan Republic. Shortly after passing the NARM board exam in 2012 and becoming a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), I left to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Upon returning I spent the summer working as a behavioral health technician at a troubled teen boys facility in southern Arizona.
I then moved to Utah and became a Licensed Midwife (LDEM). I practiced as a staff midwife at the Birthing Your Way birth center for nearly two years, where I gained great experience and had the opportunity to serve many women. As a licensed midwife I am required to have up-to-date CPR, NRP (neonatal resuscitation), fetal heart monitoring and other emergency skills. With a license I can also administer IV fluids, draw blood, give certain medications and other medical skills. That being said, I like to mention that I have great respect and am very comfortable with herbs, homeopathics, nutrition, exercise and other natural remedies as my first-step in addressing health. In 2016 I went through the education and training to become a nationally certified and state licensed EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). My main purpose in becoming an EMT was to improve communication with first responders in the case of a transport of a home birth to the hospital. I am also on a committee called the Out-of Hospital Birth Project (OOH Birth Project) of the Utah Woman and Newborn Quality Collaborative (UWNQC) through the state health department. The main goal of the OOH Birth Project (learn more) is to improve communications between midwives and hospital providers during the transport of care. Great steps have been taken to iron out some of the wrinkles in the system and we are hopeful for the future.
I have always had great interest in serving underprivileged women and families. I have recently loved serving with the incredible people on The Briana Project. This project helps to find the needs of and provide respectful maternity care to low-income, refugee and homeless women locally and abroad. It's a grass roots movement made up of midwives, doulas and other excited volunteers that is always looking for more help and volunteers, click here if you are interested in learning more. I have recently been going through more training and research on how to help survivors of abuse, whether that be sexual or domestic violence, through the child-bearing process and beyond. In attending these different trainings and conferences I've learned that this is a huge issue with many moving parts and people who are involved. I've also discovered that the effect that abuse can have on pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period can be vast. I found that taking time to build a trusting relationship with mothers and helping them prepare for some of the potentially triggering things that can arise can make a monumental difference. The difference is in creating an atmosphere that is empowering versus an atmosphere that is potentially re-traumatizing. This situation requires a delicate and educated provider that will give kind and informed care to help a survivor prepare effectively for their birth.
Another one of my life-long loves is yoga, dancing, rhythm and movement of the body in general. I have been blessed to participate in and teach dance most of my life. I finished the 85-hour Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training through Utah Prenatal Yoga early in 2016 and have thoroughly enjoyed teaching yoga ever since! I especially love to see all of the positive benefits that prenatal yoga, correct body alignment, breathing and movement have had on expecting mothers.
My philosophy concerning birth is that we were created to experience love, joy, pain, happiness, suffering and peace. Pregnancy and birth, will take us on a journey through the full range of emotions—yet, in the end, will bring us greater joy when allowed to run its natural course. Our job is to not get too much in the way of a process that is already so perfect and beautiful on its own. Our job is to educate, thoughtfully guide, lovingly nurture, and provide individualized care to help you on your path in discovering what is the best course of action for you and your family. I decided to become a midwife and continue serving women in this capacity, because I believe that an empowered birth has the ability to bond families together in a powerful way that is beyond compare. Birth is expanding. Birth is healing. Birth is uniting.
Casandra Westra, CPM
I desired to be a midwife as far back as in my teens. However, it wasn’t until I had received a Bachelors degree in Psychology from BYU and gotten married that I got serious about pursuing schooling to become one. I decided I wanted to experience a homebirth first to see if I liked it. So I had my first baby at home and loved the experience! I was sold on it! I began my studies in 1992 with what is now the Midwives College of Utah.
I graduated as Valedictorian of my class in 1996 with a Bachelors degree in Midwifery and as a Certified Doula, a Certified Childbirth Educator and as a Certified Traditional Midwife. Part of my training included an apprenticeship where I attended 50 births with a supervising midwife. After graduating, I joined the faculty of the college for the next six years.
In 2000, the North American Registry of Midwives granted me the status of CPM—Certified Professional Midwife. As part of that certification, I keep up on continuing education credits and keep current on my CPR, Neonatal Resuscitation and also attend Peer Review, where midwives discuss difficult births and get input from their peers.
I have five boys, all born at home with midwives. I tried a water birth with my third baby, and did it again with my fourth and fifth babies as well. I have been what I would call a “rural” midwife. I have lived in a rural area for the past 20 years, and there is not as much demand for midwives as in the larger cities. But since I was also busy raising my little family, it was a good fit for that time in my life. My children are older now and leaving the nest, and I have moved to a larger city. I have been a practicing midwife since 1995, and I truly love serving women in this capacity.
I have several interests, which complement my passion for midwifery. One is an interest in herbology. Other interests include reflexology, iridology, massage, nutrition, exercise, fitness, healthy living and energy healing.