About the Founder: Kayti Buehler
I first heard about a "different" way of birthing in 1996, when I was co-teaching a small Women's Sexuality class at UC Berkeley. We had a guest speaker: a midwife from San Francisco named Maria Iorillo, who showed us a video: Birth in The Squatting Position. Every light inside of me went on. Pop rocks and soda pop while running down the street - THIS made sense. I'd never seen a birth. I'd seen American movie births. Women sweating and yelling at their husbands while a doctor behind a paper teepee was yelling at them to push. The squatting women weren't like that at all. This was birth that made sense. It made sense that women's bodies: magical, powerful, incredible, needed no interference. No man behind the drape. Just their own natural power. I realized that by becoming a midwife, I could help women have their babies THEIR way. It was the most powerful calling of my life.
So I started doula training....
After graduating UC Berkeley in 1997, with a BA with Honors in History, I started training to become a doula. Substitute teaching in Berkeley and Oakland classrooms, I trained to become a doula on the weekends long before doula was a household word. That year, I waited to go to Japan to teach English on the JET Programme. I longed to see another country and live another culture.
In 1998, I started teaching English in northern Japan on the JET Programme. I fell in love almost immediately (with Japan of course but also with a Japanese man) and married 3 years later. After living in hot spring rich Miyagi-ken for 8 years, with rice paddies all around, I left my marriage and returned to San Diego to fulfill my dream of becoming a doula. (my time in japan is a story for another time...)
UCSD Hearts and Hands Volunteer Doula Program. is an incredible opportunity to learn about birth and help women. It was there, in 2007, with Anne Fulcher, and midwives Karen, Rita, Hope, Jennifer: all the midwives there- that I learned how to be with birthing couples. I absolutely loved serving in these beautiful births at UCSD. It was for sure all I'd hoped it would be. Finding one's life's work is fulfillment. In 2008 my first paid doula client had her baby: Zoe. Suddenly I had 6 paying clients. And then it became my whole world.
One Night, huddled in her little car after leaving a UCSD Volunteer Doula meeting, Sarah Davis and I got to talking about how all these birthing families I was helping were now asking me for more advice and information. Do we really need antibiotics for GBS? How long will they let me go with my water broken? Sarah understood my frustration with some of the policies and restrictions of the hospitals, which did not always seem to be in the best interests of the birthing family. More importantly, I did not know how to answer the families. Were these things necessary?
"Midwifery School," Sarah said. "Sounds like you might want to go to midwifery school. There's a class starting next month."
Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery 2009-2012
At Nizhoni, hungry fledgling midwives learn for 36 weeks about labor, physiology, nutrition, charting, complications, homeopathy, herbs, communication, newborns... all while doing our apprenticeships with local midwives. Andrea Meyer of Ocean Midwives and Gerri Ryan of San Diego County Midwives each took me under their wing and guided me into this ancient practice of midwifery, the old fashioned way: apprenticeship. These were exciting and important opportunities. And so much hard work. Midwifery apprenticeship is a massive undertaking...
May, 2013: Licensure
In 2013, Phyllis K Buehler became Licensed Midwife #367 through the Medical Board of California and a Certified Professional Midwife through the North American Registry of Midwives. My first births in my long-desired dream job were no joke. Being a midwife means being able to take care of families when the going is really rough or when it is lovely. Over time, Midwife has become a moniker I wear proudly.
2013-2015: Birth Local Midwifery
2014- 2019: Mother to Mother Midwifery
Practicing as a midwife doing home births is the best job in the world. Birth In the Squatting Position was absolutely the truth. Birth givers - the birthing person and their partner - are absolutely capable and incredible. Pregnancy, birth and postpartum are such powerful, intimate and soulful experiences. And as a midwife, these families offer ME such belonging, spirit and knowledge. I learn from them all the time about how to really be with people. Researching something, or learning a new or advanced skill, is something midwives constantly do and actually enjoy our entire careers. The heart of a lion, the hands of a lady, the eyes of a hawk.
2019-2021: Birth Local and See Midwives
In July 2019, I left the safe, nurturing environment of Mother to Mother Midwifery to resume my own midwifery practice. I valued Brooke, Sunshine and Maureen's camaraderie, clinical judgement and sweetness. What I needed was to be at the helm of the ship.
Earlier in 2019, I asked a few of the midwives I saw as ground-breakers and brilliant minds, if they could take time aside from their busy practices, to help me start something new - something to get the word out in our city and our country about community midwives. A few of them said yes! So, in January 2019, We came together to think about HOW.
See Midwives Herstory
In 2019, we developed our first iteration of See Midwives. Nikki, Ashley, Katrina, Tatiana, Lindsey and I (in the photo) put together the logo, name, and went to San Diego events to let people know we're here. We went to San Diego Pride, She Fest, and North Park Festival of the Arts. It was fun. We tried to figure out how to break through the invisibility of community midwives so that more families could access this extraordinary but largely unknown experience of female reproductive healthcare.
In March 2020, Covid happened. I was among the first to contract it. March 9, I lay in bed, "fever dreaming" about how to really change the culture around home birth and birth center midwives. Community Midwifery can fill this giant gap in American healthcare for the country as a whole and for communities with poor outcome specifically. Midwives are known all over the world except in the U.S. (See Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born for how THAT was engineered.) We have better outcomes, extraordinary experiences for families, we cost far less, and we provide far more. Why isn't this the norm?
And it came to me: an online marketplace for midwives and families to connect. Like AirBnB for families seeking Midwives. We need visibility. We need to be seen, found, discovered. We need women and families seeking reproductive healthcare to be able to see us, look us up, get lots of information, inspiration and education so they can understand what's available to them. And so they can connect to us.
I began to map out all the parts it would need, and all the interactions it would require. Those first 2 weeks was dream-time - because I was so tired and had to quarantine. I couldn't midwife, I couldn't see my friends or family... (I could barely walk to the kitchen, but I could dream and I could plan...)