I grew up in the Lower Mainland, and have lived in East Van most of my adult life. Pregnancy, birth and parenting are such social events, I appreciate being a part of the lives of families right in my own neighbourhood.
I come to midwifery with a commitment to working with women from all parts of society, including those with lower incomes, queer women, and younger mothers. I am constantly humbled by the pregnancy and birth process – how the experience can be at once both universal and unique to each woman and family.
When not catching babies I can be found hanging out with my son, born at home in January 2010, and when time permits, I strive to pursue my persistent love of quilt-making. Before entering the UBC Midwifery Education Program, I completed a Master’s degree in sociology, studying women’s federal prisons in Canada.
Marijke de Zwager
I came to midwifery from years of working in community development and social justice, both in Canada and in Latin America. For me, being part of building a community of support around women and their families as they grow is an honour and a privilege. I am constantly awed by the power, strength and wisdom that pregnancy, birth and babies offer.
I started my formal midwifery journey, through working as a doula with young mothers, followed by a Bachelor of Midwifery from the University of British Columbia. Along the way I have worked with hundreds of diverse families, including recent immigrants and refugees, young mothers and substance-using women. I have been fortunate enough to work in high volume city practices and smaller rural practices around BC, providing care in English, French and Spanish (I have yet to do a birth in Dutch!). While I love being a midwife here in Vancouver, I am also passionate about decreasing maternal mortality/morbidity in low resource settings and have worked as a midwife in Zambia and Haiti.
When I am not catching babies, you will find me paddling around in my kayak, riding my bike, doing yoga or camping.
My education includes a Women’s Studies and Environmental Studies degree from UVic and a Midwifery degree from UBC. My life has been enriched by working with people with disabilities over many years. I have also had the privilege of working in remote Nunavik along-side Inuit women and midwives. I am very pleased to offer accessible midwifery care to deaf women, with my knowledge of American Sign Language (ASL).
My practice partners and I provide midwifery care to young families at the SMILE program in Burnaby, once a week. http://www.stleo.ca/programs/smile
I have a new love for triathlons and when not caring for moms and babies, I can be found swimming, cycling, or running.
For as long back as we can trace, there have been midwives in our family: my mother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother, and likely others whose names have been lost to time. I feel in my heart that I inherited from them a fundamental belief in women’s innate ability to give birth naturally and powerfully. Some of my fondest moments have been attending births together with my mother, who has imparted to me over the years both the spirit and knowledge of birthing women and their attendants: the joy, the mystery, the tears.
I am proud to be a co-creator of Pomegranate, and am committed to creating a vision of community-centered care that prioritizes access to quality healthcare for all pregnant women, including those who have traditionally been marginalized.
Having moved to Vancouver in 2004, I became immediately and deeply attached to the seashores and rainforests of the West Coast. In addition to practicing midwifery, I love indulging in my other passion: photography. I also find as much time as possible to indulge in quilting, yoga and frequent dinner parties with friends catered by my talented partner.
To me, midwifery is both an art and a science, a career and a calling. It is an amazing privilege to accompany families along their journeys of pregnancy, birth and early parenting. My goal as a midwife is to help you make choices about your body and your baby that make sense for you, and to use my heart, hands and head to help make your birth experience safe and satisfying.
I’ve been working with women and families for many years now – before becoming a midwife, I worked as a clinic assistant, doula, prenatal educator, and crisis line counselor. My formal midwifery education was through the UBC Midwifery Program, where I trained in several communities across Western Canada and developed a special interest in waterbirth, which I studied for my graduating research.
Being a midwife is a busy job, but in my spare time I love to garden, play board games with friends and family, dance to all kinds of music, and catch up on sleep!
My interest in midwifery began when I was a young child. Born at home in a small Gulf Island community, I was raised in an environment supportive of both midwifery and women’s choice. I attended my first birth at the age of fifteen and I later trained as a midwife through the UBC Midwifery Education Program.
Previous to midwifery, I studied French and medical anthropology at the University of Victoria. In keeping with my interest in diverse cultures, languages and ways of being, I have enjoyed the opportunity to provide midwifery care to woman and families in urban, rural and remote settings in British Columbia, Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. I have also spent time in Prague learning about their homebirth movement, as well as my own cultural heritage. I speak English, French and Czech.
One of the aspects of midwifery that I enjoy the most is the opportunity to form relationships with women and their families prior to birth, taking the time to discover the unique ways in which they might benefit from midwifery care. As a midwife I am constantly amazed by the power women find during labour and birth, and honored to be of assistance during this time.
I am excited to be offering a side-by-side solo midwifery care model with Dawn Henderson through Pomegranate Community Midwives. I look forward to working with you to make your experience of pregnancy, childbirth and the beginnings of your new family a positive one.
I feel so fortunate to have found Midwifery as a career! I grew up in a small town on Vancouver Island, where women need to drive over 80 km to birth their babies. After high school, I moved to Vancouver in hopes of becoming a pediatric nurse. During my third year of UBC Nursing School I witnessed my first birth – and was immediately hooked! After graduating in 2003, I became a Registered Perinatal Nurse at BC Women’s Hospital. For the next five years, I supported many women throughout their labours, births, and immediate postpartum periods. Soon into my nursing career I ‘discovered’ midwifery and found that my values surrounding labour and birth were much more congruent with the midwifery model of birth, specifically around continuity of care, building trusting relationships, informed choice, and normal birth.
I applied to and was accepted into the UBC Midwifery Program in 2008. My three years of training allowed me to work with midwives in Richmond, Nanaimo, and Vancouver, as well as with obstetricians and family doctors in Vancouver. I was also very fortunate to spend my last year of school at Pomegranate and I am thrilled to be returning as a midwife!
Since graduating in May, I have been working at the South Community Birth Program, where I have been working with a team of midwives, doctors, nurses, and doulas, providing care to women and their families through the entire birthing process.
At Pomegranate, I am pleased to be offering a model of Solo Midwifery Practice. I first worked with a solo midwife in my second year of school and since then have been planning to provide solo midwifery care to women in Vancouver. I will provide all prenatal, birth, and postpartum care to my clients, calling on the assistance of the other midwives at Pomegranate when necessary. Although I am on call 24/7, I still find time to spend with my new husband, doing yoga, and cooking!
I was born in North Vancouver and grew up around the Lower Mainland. I have lived in East Van since the late 90s, which makes me very excited to work in the Pomegranate team, in my home community, serving my neighbors.
A degree in women’s studies and anthropology lit my intellectual fire in women’s reproductive health, and it was my subsequent work as a birth and post partum doula that solidified the inspiration to become a midwife. I was a doula for five years, with a full time doula practice for three of those years. I ended my doula career as a mentor for new doulas just as I began my formal midwifery education: a Bachelor of Midwifery degree at UBC. I have a background in grassroots support work – as a youth worker; an anti-violence counselor and activist; and as coordinator of a housing program for marginalized women living in poverty with addiction, violence, and surviving child apprehension.
Midwifery is an intersection of my feminist politics, my interest in biology, a reverence for the amazing transformation from fetus to newborn, and the deep commitment I hold for social justice. As a midwife I am privileged to provide maternity healthcare within a model that empowers women to choose their care as the experts in their lives. And I am constantly amazed to witness the unfolding and recognition of strength in women – strength to make hard decisions, to be brave in a time of fear, to discover more of their own power than they knew was possible in the depths of labour.
To balance out my midwife-life, I spend my time practising yoga, playing outside, and cuban salsa dancing. When I am not on call I love cooking long elaborate meals with friends.
I see midwifery as a profession that provides excellent, comprehensive care to women, supports our community of families and advocates for ongoing research in maternity care. As a mother of three, I appreciate the special relationship between midwife and client, and how we can be empowered by our experience of pregnancy and birth.
Can you tell that some of our portrait shots are fancy?
These were taken by photographer and doula, Morag Hastings. She specializes in birth photography but check out her website for a better glimpse of her many talents. www.appleblossomfamilies.com