Posted by: webbhouston | December 10, 2008

My own little database of Houston’s finest establishments

I get asked often what places I recommend here in Houston for random things.

Some as serious as, the best person to give birth with and to use as a doctor or midwife… to as simple as the best place to get a haircut.

So I am starting a series on my blog called “Where should I go for…?”

I am going to write my initial list for each topic and update it as needed. My goal for next year is to have a list of some of the best places for children and families, as well as the most natural friendly establishments and green supporters. My first topic came naturally while thinking about the topic that I get asked about the most. What do I get more emails, phone calls, and messages about? Birth.

Birthing options are some of the most important things that one can make decisions on. We research for ages before getting a house note, a new computer, hell even a new phone… but when it comes to our healthcare providers we seem to just assume that they will all know what is best and do what is best.  While there are some great providers out there it is important to make sure that you really get one that meshes well with you.

While it is no secret that I drank the koolaid when it comes to homebirth, I understand that because of monetary, health, or other reasons women might not be able to have a homebirth or even want one.  Because of this I am including in my list options for all types of births. Of course this list is not the end all be all of birth in Houston and I really dont wish for it to be seen as that. This is only a collection of names gathered by a woman who spends way too much time researching and talking to people. I am onlt going to write about those who I know personally, know someone that knows them personally, or feel comfortable recommending. If you see anything here that you believe is off please let me know. I am always happy to learn more about the subject.

Let’s start off with what I know the best…. midwives.

Not only did I drink the kool aide of homebirth love, my husband did too and I know that part of why he was so happy with our last birth was because we had a good support team there with us.  Because of them we were able to stay at home in peace and immediately all bond as a family… so it makes sense that I am very inclined to be partial to the midwifery model of care and homebirth.

There are different types of midwives. There are DEM or Direct Entry Midwives, CPM or Certified Professional Midwife, LM or licensed midwife, and CNM or Certified Nurse Midwife. There are no good or bad titles to have behind your name as a midwife they are all just different. In the state of Texas midwives are legal so we have a variety of them here. The most important things to remember when chosing a midwife are not what letters come after their name but if they agree with your birthing philosophy (not just birthing but aftercare too, like circumsicion, breastfeeding and the like), that you feel comfortable with them, and that they have the experience that you require. My midwife was experienced with both breech deliveries and twin homebirths and I needed that for my peace of mind. I did not want to be transferred to another practitioner in case those cases were to arise but I still wanted someone that was comfortable enough giving me the type of birth that I wanted. While I never used her abilities in either of these subjects I could have easily and almost did (Kate was a twin pregnancy in early ultrasounds but after bleeding and passing clots only one baby was confirmed in later ultrasound, and Calvin was breech until late in the game).

Jackie Griggs, CNM was my midwife with both of my deliveries.  She does both birth center and homebirths. Her birth center is beautiful and very much like a home with great tubs for laboring in. She very much believes in letting your body do what it must and that the woman is strong enough to have the birth that she wants. She never micromanged my pregnany or birth. Did not push tests on me that I didnt want and never pressured me into getting an ultrasound or anything that I did not want. She has options for those that want all of the tests and she will do them and she has places where she refers people if there are any issues that arise that need a second opinion. She is an IBCLC which was important to me since not breastfeeding was not an option to me and I wanted help to be available if I were to need it.  We met one of her backup doctors and he is a great OB that is natural birth friendly. I will discuss more about him in the OB section of this list. His name is David Janowitz.

Pat Jones she is a CNM as well and has a million years of experience with birth. She is also the founder of B.I.R.T.H. which is responsible for helping many families get education that has helped them reach their goal of raising a natural family, starting with having a natural birth. I have known her personally for a few years and was the very first midwife that I came into contact with in the Houston area. I know countless mothers who have birthed with her and she is a wonderful person. She has written many articles and is a wonderful source for information on natural living.

Kellie Moeller another CNM.  She has worked closely with Pat Jones in the past.  Very gentle demeanor and a true gem to have while in the hardest part of your labor.

Jane Hitch a CPM. She was a La Leche leader and Bradley Method instructor so she brings with her a great deal of knowledge and experience.

Chris Duffey an excellent midwife who truly believes in the power of the human body. She does not pressure you into anything, even in circumstances where other midwives might feel more inclined to like being postdate. She is an LM and I have heard nothing but wonderful recommendations from those that have used her services.

Natalie Womack with a peaceful demeanor she has helped guide many women through successful pregnancies. She is an LM, CPM.

Cathy Rude she is a CPM and services the Katy area.

Carol Schumacher years of education in breastfeeding and natural childbirth. She is a CPM.

Camellia May she works with Jackie Griggs my midwife and is an LM. She is sweet and positive, a great source of knowledge on the case against circumcision and always up to date in the happenings of the midwifery and natural living world.

Doulas

What is a doula? Well a doula is an assitant to the mother while in labor. She is not a medical practitioner but she is something who is there during and after the labor helping in many ways.  Statistics prove that births with doulas whether in the hospital or not tend to be shorter and less painful, they also tend to have outcomes that the mothers are happier with. For both of my births I have had Carmen as a birth assistant. She works with Jackie and she was a wonderful doula for our family.  She speaks spanish and is a native of Monterrey Mexico so her and my mother hit it off. My mother was at both of my births and she had no previous experience with homebirths in the United states so having Carmen there helped my mother a great deal. Carmen is a trained midwife in Mexico and served as one there.  She brought me after birth nourishment when I needed it, massaged my back, and was a great source of support for my mother and husband. A good doula is worth her weight in gold. While I do not have much experiences with doulas personally because of my experience with Carmen I do know many mothers who have had doulas at their births and they are all too happy to talk wonders about them.

Sally Head and Debbie Hull have both been used by many of my friends and fellow birthing hippies.  Patti Heimlich is also another doula with excellent references among my crowd.

Susie Milner is another good doula who has helped many women during their labors.

Kimberley Traylor she is a lactation consultant, doula, and tons of other stuff all rolled into one. She is a true cheerleader when you need her and I personally love her dearly. She is an activist for natural living causes and works very hard.

Just like when chosing a midwife, what you should remember when making your choice is not what others have done but what works for you and how comfortable you feel with them. Your OB or midwife can also give you good referrals to doulas that they have worked with in the past. If you are having a hospital birth then it would benefit you to pick a doula that has experience working in hospitals since being a doula in a hospital is very different than having a doula for a homebirth. Also a word of caution… if your OB or midwife says that they do not allow their clients to have doulas… that is your cue to run as fast as you can the other way.

OB/GYN

The houston community is not really very friendly to natural birth. I will begin by saying that. Most people truly dedicated to having a natural birth know that having a natural birth in a hospital is really an uphill battle. I personally would only chose to birth in a hospital if it were a life and death circumstance or something close to that. It is unfortunate that we do not have a great deal of options but we do have some and those who are available to us are valuable.

I spoke of Dr Janowitz earlier in this post.  He is really a character. He is one of the few doctors that still attends VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesearean) and he does not push for patients to get drugs or episitomies.  He helped us after our hospital transfer with Katherine, if I had to go to a hospital for a birth I would chose a doctor like him because he is a real find.

Then there is Dr. Stephen Guilliams which is highly recommended for VBACs. He is the backup for Pat Jones and delivers at West Houston Medical Center. *EDITED JANUARY 2009* While I am sure that Dr G is a great doctor and from what i hear he is really a respectful guy, stay far far away from this medical center. It is a cess pool.

Larry Milner he is another one of the backups for my midwife. Very natural birth friendly.

Last but not least there is a combo of midwives and OBs practice called The Women Specialists they have midwives who are all CNMs who will assist you at having your hospital birth (these do not do homebirth or birth center births) if you are low risk, and if needed you are transferred to one of their OBs which are all very natural birth friendly. This practice is a happy medium for many people because it really blends the midwifery model of care with being in a hospital in case you need anything that a hospital has to offer.

Whatever you chose and whatever you do remember that you are trying to chose what is best for you and for your children.

I know that when I look into these little faces I try to do what I can to make sure that things are ok.

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Responses

  1. Heh heh, take a look at my blog and you’ll notice some similarities – http://labortrials.wordpress.com.

    I’m glad you’re putting this together, and I’ll be sure to plug your site! My folks live in N. Houston (the Woodlands), so of course I have a soft spot for Houston. I also went to Rice U for grad school. 😀

  2. I went to rice for undergrad!!
    Please feel free to link my series to anyone that asks. i am going to get together a list of the most natural friendly everythings in Houston, we need it as houston tends to NOT be natural friendly… but through lots of work and years of research I have found some hidden gems. If i can save a family some work, I will.

  3. Just a correction- “LM” does NOT stand for “lay midwife” but for “licensed midwife”. “LM” is a credential given by the State of Texas to direct-entry midwives. LMs may be – in fact usually are – CPMs as well (CPM being a national credential). A midwife who is licensed by the State of Texas will be either a LM or a CNM.

    Great idea for a post – very informative!

  4. you are correct and whats more is that I totally knew that… i should check my posts better before i post them when it takes me like 5 hours to write something because i have to go back and forth to it.
    thanks alot!

  5. Great resource, thanks for putting this together. I did want to also suggest the inclusion of Sandra McDonald in the list of midwives. She will be with us for our pregnancy and has been really wonderfully informative and easy to talk to. We are looking forward to the birth with her. Also, you mention that West Houston is deteriorating. Could you specify since that’s such a general statement?

  6. I would love to elaborate! Basically the hospital has problems with moms who want to room in with the baby, they do not have a great deal of people who are breastfeeding knowledable or friendly to breastfeeding. They are a small hospital and they are overbooked often. The pediatric nurses are really hit and miss but some of them need to be smacked because they try to pressure women into supplementing and dont offer any help with nursing.

  7. Hi. Your site displays incorrectly in Firefox, but content excellent! Thank you for your wise words =)

  8. I second the suggestion to include Sandra McDonald! I had three of my children with her when we lived in Sugar Land, and she is a dream to work with! The only reason I don’t use her now is because we left the Houston area! I sure miss her!


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