Friday, March 8, 2013

My Natural Hospital Midwife Birth in Alabama!

Roberta Ress, CNM is the only Certified Nurse Midwife
delivering babies in a hospital setting in North Alabama.
by Anna Bertone, Guest Blogger

When I became pregnant with my first child in May 2012, I was living in Chicago and finishing graduate school. I selected a midwifery practice with privileges to deliver at an “Alternative Birthing Center” within a local hospital. In my view, this was the ideal arrangement because I had support for a natural birth, all of the comfort amenities (tub, ball, peaceful setting), and, if I were to need an emergency procedure, I could be wheeled out the door and down the hall in a matter of seconds.

When work required that my husband and I move to Huntsville in my 8th month of pregnancy, I was scared and confused by the apparent lack of birthing options in AL. Where were the midwives? The Birthing Centers? The natural birth classes? After days of web searching and phone calls, I spoke with a former CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife) who put me in touch with Roberta Ress, CNM at Carlota OB/GYN practice in Athens. We met for the first time when I was already well into my pregnancy. With that meeting, my hope was restored that a natural birth in a hospital setting is indeed possible in Alabama.
Roberta delivers at Athens-Limestone hospital. She is supported by her OB/GYN practice and the wonderful hospital nurses. My Birth Plan was well received and respected by everyone I came in contact with during and after delivery. 

I won’t pretend that my birth was easy or “ecstatic”, as some women claim. It was eight hours of HARD WORK following a day and a half of sleepless pre-labor. I’m not sure I could have done it without Roberta and the nurses. Some of the nurses had experienced their own natural births. I think this made them even better at encouraging me and knowing what to do (or not to do). For example, no one pushed drugs, or made me feel as though I was up against the clock, or was being too loud. No one complained about how I was chugging coconut water like a shipwrecked sailor the entire time. They brought me mats when I was laboring on the floor, demonstrated the many ways a hospital bed can change to support different positions, attached a bar to the bed, and pointed a fan on me. Roberta coached my breathing when I started to “drown” during transition, and my husband and doula held my hands and assisted me throughout. Carina was born Jan. 14th at 7:33 AM.

Ladies, I highly recommend hiring a doula. A doula is a friend, an educator, a masseuse, and an experienced mother. Even if you have a husband, partner, or family member present, a doula can show them how to help you best. I worked with Aleah Charney. You can visit her website

Thanks to A Nurturing Moment for creating a space for women to connect on issues such as these. I love your services and products!

Anna Bertone
Feel free to call/email me with any questions about Carina’s birth!


  1. First I'd like to say thank you for sharing this story!! I'm currently exploring the options in North Alabama and this is very helpful.

    Second, congratulations on the happy/healthy birth of your precious baby girl!

  2. Wow! I like to know if you had to stay afterwards or were allowed to return home?

  3. Thanks again Anna for your kind comments! Please note my updated website: