Grand Rapids' first out-of-hospital birthing alternative opens in East Hills

In 2007 when Sara Badger moved to Grand Rapids, she was pregnant with her third child. A generational midwife with sights set on an out-of-hospital birth, she says she was taken aback by the fact there were no visible options, and an even less visible midwife community. 

However, as the population grew and interest expanded, Badger was able to create her own solution – Cedar Tree Birth & Wellness, which completed renovations on a second floor birthing suite earlier this month to become Grand Rapids' first and only alternative to home and hospital birth. 

“We are technically a birthing center because we do birth outside of the hospital, but what I really wanted was a home birth experience outside of the home,” Badger says, adding that they’ve had a steady stream of clientele showing interest in the existing wellness center and expect that to translate to the birthing suite, as well.  

The new birthing suite gives laboring about-to-be mothers full use of a single-family apartment that includes a private bedroom, kitchen, dining room, living room and a full bath for the duration of labor. Badger said the second floor of the 915 Cherry Street SE home was completely gutted and remodeled with a new kitchen, bathroom and cathedral ceiling. The third floor will be used as a space for family and to rest for a few moments or give the mother space during labor.

After starting her own midwifery service Simply Born @ Home in 2010, Badger teamed up with Juliea Paige of Crowning Lotus Doula Services to open Cedar Tree in January. The East Hills home, neighbored by Hopscotch Children’s Store and Grove restaurant on either side, has functioned primarily through the Community Wellness Center on the first floor while the recently completed renovations were underway.  The living room, dining room, kitchen, consultation room and common room that comprise the Wellness Center are available for rental by anyone looking for event space, a venue to host a workshop or class, or even just to groups looking for a gathering place. 

She says the biggest misconception about home birth is the idea the midwives don't receive any kind of medical or formal training, or that the process isn’t inherently safe. A lay midwife herself, Badger says although Michigan doesn’t require any specific licensing for midwives, a lot of people still seek national certification. 

“I think that women just have more control over their care and how they and their babies are treated in a very precious moment,” Badger says. “In order to get to birthing in a very whole state you have to get very primal, and you can’t always do that with all of the electronics that we add to birth.”

Along with the space rentals, Cedar Tree also offers a host of classes, groups, and consultation topics, including a breastfeeding club, newborn classes and individual birthing plans for mothers planning on a hospital birth. However, Badger says they are always looking for more classes and events to host in the community. 

Learn more about upcoming classes, find contact information, and see a complete list of rental spaces and pricing at www.cedartreebw.org. 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer
Photos Courtesy of Lisa Kay Photography  
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