YARMOUTH — Hospitals don’t appeal to everyone. They didn’t appeal to Tiffany Carter Skillings.
Skillings and partner Josie Skavdahl have founded Tree of Life Naturopathic and Midwifery Care, after realizing that she wanted to run her own holistic practice, focusing on home births and intimately caring for patients for the entirety of their lives.
“We are very excited to give families another option for their maternity and general care,” Skavdahl said.
They chose their location at the Lower Falls Landing in Yarmouth because of the vibe they got from the town.
“Yarmouth has a family-oriented feel,” Skillings said.
Skavdahl is licensed to provide wellness and preventative care, and also treats existing conditions and health problems. She works with men, women, and children of all ages.
“We focus on supporting the body and treating the whole self instead of just the symptoms,” Skillings said.
Both women are also certified professional midwives and provide care for the mother and baby through all stages of the pregnancy, as well as continued care after the baby is born.
Skillings is a certified lactation counselor and also provides GYN services, nutrition counseling, and well woman care.
“We take care of women throughout their lives,” Skillings said.
A main component of Tree of Life is home births. Skillings said she believes there is an interest in home births in Maine, although she said she knows it doesn’t appeal to everyone.
“Our goal is to provide another option,” Skillings said. “We know home birth isn’t for every woman.”
Skillings said the home can be more comforting for women, because there are no hospital protocols to follow, and because women can be surrounded by the amenities of their home. She said it’s important for women to be in the place that makes them feel safe and relaxed.
“If she feels most comfortable in a hospital, that’s where she belongs, but if she feels more comfortable at home, that’s where she should be,” Skillings said.
Skillings said this doesn’t mean Tree of Life is against hospitals.
“We have a lot of respect for the hospital and what hospitals do,” she said.
Skillings and Skavdahl are both present at every home birth. They are both trained in neonatal resuscitation and neither leaves until a few hours after the baby is born. Skillings said that just under 11 percent of all home births are transferred to a hospital due to complications.
She also said that they don’t wait for a red flag to make a transfer. They will bring a woman to the hospital for a “pink flag.”
“It’s all about safety,” Skillings said. “We want a healthy mom and a healthy baby.”
The midwives also provide care after birth. They go back to the home one and three days after birth, and then the mom brings the baby to the practice at one, two, and six weeks of age.
Skillings said this allows relationships to develop with patients.
“We get to know our patients really well,” Skillings said. “They’re not just a number or a chart.”
Tiffany Carter Skillings said she opened Tree of Life in Yarmouth because she felt she was being held back from developing close personal relationships with patients in hospitals.
Josie Skavdahl is a Yarmouth midwife who, with partner Tiffany Carter Skillings, expects to deliver the first Tree of Life baby in August.