Christy Santoro, CPM
The first birth I attended was in 1985 – it was the birth of my youngest sister, Michelle. I was 11 years old and it was one of the formative experiences of my youth, and the beginning of my journey to becoming a midwife. In 1995, I earned a degree in Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a focus on women’s health and culturally appropriate health care. In the spirit of believing that life and death are next to each other on the circle of life and not at opposite ends of a spectrum, I found that taking care of my Great Uncle through his last year of life and his death was the catalyst to my answering the call to be a midwife. As a first step on that path, I trained as a doula through Doulas of North America (DONA) in 1998. I was a DONA certified doula for 6 years, and practiced as a doula in all birth settings.
In 1999-2000, I completed the Art of Midwifery Level II Seminar Series taught by Joanne Dozor, CPM before moving to New Mexico for an intensive clinical apprenticeship at the Northern New Mexico Midwifery Center. While in Taos, I worked with women in both the birth center and homebirth settings and in March 2002 completed the requirements for the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) credential through the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and an Associate of Science in Midwifery from the National College of Midwifery. I am currently licensed as a direct-entry midwife in New Jersey, and have previously been licensed in both New Mexico and California.
I moved from Taos, NM to Berkeley, California, where I started a small homebirth practice, Fruits of Labor Midwifery, with Kristen Graser and was a member of the Bay Area Homebirth Collective. I returned to the east coast and began working with Karen Webster, founder of WomanWise, in the fall of 2003 and was invited to join as a full partner in the practice the following year. In June of 2008, with the growing demand for homebirth services in Philadelphia and South Jersey calling me to stay closer to home, Motherland Midwifery was born! As of October 2008, I have attended close to 400 births: about 75 as a doula, about 100 as an apprentice or assistant midwife, and almost 200 as the primary or co-primary midwife.
In the fall of 2006, I was honored by the Midwives Alliance of North America with the Sapling Award, a recognition of my role as a young leader in the national midwifery community/movement. I currently serve as a a member of the faculty and a clinical preceptor for both the National College of Midwifery and Birthwise Midwifery School. I also am a founding member and serve as co-chair of Pennsylvania Association of Certified Professional Midwives (PACPM), a professional organization for midwives in PA currently focusing on the legal recognition and licensure of CPMs in the state. I am also a member of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM) and a Professional Member of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN).
As a midwife who attends homebirths, I assist in natural childbirth only. I am not a doctor and I am not a nurse. I have chosen to practice independently because I do not accept the definition of Midwifery as the practice of Medicine or Nursing. I believe that Midwifery, Nursing & Medicine are separate disciplines, and that the laws and health care system need to be corrected to reflect midwifery’s unique role in providing high quality, cost-effective care for mothers and families. I believe that every woman who chooses should have access to the Midwives Model of Care™ in the setting of her choice.
I have a longtime interest in local food, farmers markets, community gardening and whole foods vegetarian cooking that I bring to my work as a midwife. I also practice Ashtanga yoga and my yoga practice is a big influence on my work as a midwife (and vice-versa). In May of 2008, I married Martin Wiley, a poet, college professor, and writer and all around great guy, who is incredibly supportive of my work as a midwife. We had our first child, Itzela, on August 12, 2009 (you can read about her birth here). Having a baby myself now after years of working as a midwife was both humbling and oh so wonderful! It has been such a gift to benefit from the community of families I helped to build as a new mother myself. On July 26, 2013 we were blessed to add a son to our family. Eliodoro arrived, big sister Itzy cut the cord and our family feels complete!
Being a midwife challenges me to use my heart and hands as well as my head. I love what I do, feel called to the work and feel that it is worth the crazy hours and lifestyle to help create sacred space for women to be born as mothers, men as fathers, and babies to enter their time on this planet in a peaceful, loving way. I sometimes feel like I’m always working and just as often feel like I’m never working. It’s a challenging, amazing and beautiful life that I’m living doing this work. For me, midwifery is the center of the wheel that connects most of what I want my life and learning to be about: it is an art and a science, focused on relationships, very personal and intimate with a tangible impact on people’s lives as well as very community oriented, holistic, political, spiritual, sacred, countercultural, ancient, women-centered, and physical. Almost anything I want to study, or learn about—be it nutrition, massage, homeopathy, gardening, acupuncture, herbs, or yoga— has an application and connection to my work as a midwife—creating opportunities for lifelong learning that informs and illuminates my practice and that I can share with the mamas and babies I serve.