By Renée Tillotson & Sarah Hodges
Kathe Gibbs has ushered 2000 newborns into their mothers’ waiting arms in the comfort, safety and sanctity of their homes. Now as one of the residents on Mouna Farm, Kathe provides her midwifery skills all over the island of ‘Oahu. “I go to where the mother is with my ‘concierge midwifery’ practice. I offer care throughout their childbearing year, sometimes working with families before conception. It’s always a pleasure and a privilege,” says Kathe, who is a Preceptor for The North American Registry of Midwives (NARM, which has been granted licensing oversight in the new Hawaii law).
Kathe experienced two great visions in her professional life, one of which fully manifested, the other of which is currently in process.
Back in 1974, after achieving her BS in Psychology and Early Childhood Education at UC Santa Cruz. She was doing graduate studies and teaching yoga when a paradigm shifting event revealed a different life path. She found herself unexpectedly serving as the sole attendant at a friend’s home birth. The baby’s father was out of reach, hiking in the back country when the mother-to-be went into labor. Unphased, and experienced in seeing home births herself, the first-time mother calmly guided Kathe through every step of the labor, from making a fire in the hearth, rubbing her back, boiling water, all the way to catching the baby!
Attending the birth of that baby was an “Aha” moment for Kathe. It left her charged with the joyous realization that – despite the impressions from culture, media and people’s stories – childbirth can be so natural, so much “the way things should be and always have been”. Kathe felt thunderstruck. She knew to the roots of her soul that she would spend her life caring for mothers and birthing families safely into the world.
As she had learned that 90% of all births are normal, she saw herself using ancient birthing practices in today’s world backed up by modern medicine if the situation calls for it. With that clear-as-crystal insight, Kathe began her years of women’s health care and midwifery, starting a Women’s Health Center in Tehran (1975-77). Formal midwifery and clinical training began in 1979 at the Seattle Midwifery school. Her education and instruction (listed below) included a B.S. in Nursing. She was in the first group of midwives to be licensed in both Washington state (1981) and California (1995).
In practice on her own, as well as in partnerships and in many clinical settings, Kathe has attended births in California, Washington, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C, Texas, New Mexico, Iran, the West Indies, as well as here on the islands of Hawaii, where many of her clients are military families.
As a NARM Preceptor, and officially certified by the Midwifery College of Utah and the National College of Midwifery, Kathe has served as an educator, overseeing the academic and clinical training of new midwives. By 2001, Kathe had a thriving midwifery practice in Santa Cruz, California, attending to births in the safety and comfort of the mothers’ homes.
In late 2010, Kathe experienced the second vision of her life to come, triggered by the question: “How would your life be different if you had a place to go?” She saw “A Place for Women”. It would be a women’s clinical training site, a birthing center where women of all backgrounds could come together as early as pre-conception, and receive continued education, advocacy and support through the three trimesters of their pregnancies, as well as postpartum. In the hands of skilled midwives, as well as other medical professionals, these mothers would give safe, strongly supported and joyous births.
She had brought her children to Hawaii every summer for decades. After seeing the Hawaiian film Ola, which featured both Mouna Farm and other innovative health programs, she felt irresistibly drawn to the islands. When she reviewed the Hawaii 2020 Health Goals, she recognized a HUGE need for women to have better access and affordability to comprehensive maternal and infant care. In 2015 she closed her California practice and moved to Hawaii to fulfill her second vision. After some time in Hawaii Kai, she happily landed on Mouna Farm, a place of inspiration and healthy living for all.
Dreams, like all births, begin as a seed, tucked into a small, fertile place to be nurtured into being. Kathe is carefully tending her model and idea of “A Place for Women”, a wellness center and birthing home. Kathe commits herself to giving back to the community, which appreciates her safe, supportive, and restorative service to women and their babies. She knows that the goal of improving society’s care for women, like pregnancy, requires patience. Her dream is alive and well, and promises to be very successful, uplifting women in so many ways.
Kathe’s Educational Background
1977 Informed Homebirth Childbirth Educator training, MA
1979 – 1981 Seattle Home Maternity Service, Preceptorship, WA
1979 – 1981 Seattle Midwifery School, WA
1980 High Point Community Women’s Clinic, Women’s Health Preceptorship WA
1981 St. Jude’s hospital, Preceptorship West Indies
1983 – 1985 Regents College, BSN program NY
2004 – 2006 Naturopathic Graduate Studies, Clayton College of Natural Health
Full Circle – Midwifery