Jeana Smith, CNM
Bloomin’ Babies Birth Center
“Natural birth is hard to picture if you’ve never experienced it. We do our very best to create an atmosphere that is peaceful, homey, organic and has all the medical equipment found in a hospital setting, but hidden in the room,” explains Jeana Smith, certified nurse midwife at Bloomin’ Babies Birth Center. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and natural birth is impactful and empowering.”
Jeana Smith was hired on as Bloomin’ Babies first labor and delivery nurse, and as the birth center’s second midwife. Early on, Jeana recalls, the volume of babies being born was much lower, but it has picked up each year as the birth culture in Grand Junction changes. Just over a decade ago, there was only one hospital available for births. Having the option of a birth center available in the community has provided an alternative and “helped shift thinking around a birthing experience for mothers and families.”
Bloomin’ Babies Birth Center opened its doors in October 2013. It provides prenatal and postnatal care for moms, as well as a personalized delivery options in comfortable birthing rooms, which are spacious, clean and include birthing tubs, peaceful lighting and home-like environment. Each month, an average of 22 babies are born. To date, nearly 500 babies in total have been birthed at the center.
Jeana notes that COVID brought about tremendous change, as well. “People were looking for alternative ways to do everything: educate their children, do their grocery shopping, get a doctor’s visit. They were asking, ‘what other ways can we get things done?’ They started searching for out-of-the-box solutions and in that, Bloomin’ Babies would show up in their Google search and our practice doubled over a four-month period. Things just went crazy! But it was great—it was the boost that we needed!”
Then in August of 2020, St. Mary’s Medical Center approached the owners of Bloomin’ Babies—Dick and Patty Kandiko—about the possibility of a merger. The change took about a year to achieve, and Bloomin’ Babies is now under the hospital’s umbrella, a change Jeana feels has been positive. “I’m impressed all the time that St. Mary’s was even interested; it says so much. That right there is evidence that the culture is shifting. They are seeing a need from the community. And what better way to keep shifting the culture in a healthy direction than from the inside?”
In a world where it’s challenging to privately own a medical clinic due to a reimbursement system not always conducive to paying specialists, Smith points out that “the birth industry is not a money-making endeavor” and that another positive outcome from the recent partnership with St. Mary’s has been an increase in financial and personnel resources. “Getting a birth center to float in the mainstream is a big deal. That’s what we’re after.”
Bloomin’ Babies proudly promotes natural childbirth methods whenever possible. The American Associate of Birth Centers champions the guiding principles of prevention, sensitivity, safety, appropriate medical intervention and cost effectiveness. “Our ultimate goal is always a safe baby and a safe mom,” Jeana proudly affirms. “Pregnancy and birth do inherently have risks, but for many, many women the level of risk associated with a natural, birth-center delivery is reasonable. It’s been well-researched and the numbers tell us this is a safe thing to do for low-risk moms.” When assessments are made that a pregnancy is high risk, the earned trust and collaboration between Bloomin’ Babies and St. Mary’s Medical Center ensures a safe transition to hospital care. “It’s the best of both worlds,” says Smith. With Bloomin’ Babies right next door to St. Mary’s, even the rare emergent transfer is a do-able option.
The birthing center midwives consider it an honor to support women through their labor and delivery process in the hospital setting, as well as in the center.
When asked what she would like to pass on to our Western Slope community about pregnancy and childbirth, Jeana explains her passion for natural birth, “We, as a culture, forget how impactful an empowered birth can be. If a woman is able have the birth of her own choosing—even if it’s not perfect, but informed—that changes her ability to think, ‘Well, if I did that, then I can do this.’ And if she feels that way she will foster that in her children and it will trickle down over generations. When an empowered experience becomes standard, that changes everything.”
Jeana has four children ranging in age from nine to 25 and seeks to impart an empowered mindset to each of them. In her own life, Jeana underwent three unique birth experiences, along with the adventure of growing her family through adoption. She understands personally the various emotions associated with C-section, V-bac, natural birth, and miscarriage. “I just keep collecting experiences, including experiences of loss. It’s all part of collecting ways to help other people.”
Bloomin’ Babies Birth Center is accepting new patients. To learn more, visit their website at BloominBabiesBirthCenter.com.