Licensed Midwife Allison Blackham: ‘It’s important to me to provide dignified, respectful care’
Licensed Midwife Allison Blackham knows the power of parenthood, from before a baby’s first breath to decades later.
The birth of a child “affects generations of people,” says Blackham, who has been involved in births for more than three decades as nurse, childbirth educator and, more recently, as a Licensed Midwife. “I’m grateful to be able to work with families through this very wonderful and transformative time of life.”
Blackham joined Western Sierra Medical Clinic in 2021, the latest addition to a fast-growing women’s health practice at the Federally Qualified Health Center.
Blackham meets with parents-to-be, providing prenatal and postpartum care, monitoring their health and that of their baby, educating them about their pregnancy, the importance of taking care of themselves and their baby, and the experience of childbirth and postpartum.
“I’s a dramatic moment in everyone’s life to have a child,” says Blackham, adding that midwives have a far-reaching role in a woman’s pregnancy. “It’s an amazing way to support a family and help women own the experience of birth.”
Blackham estimates she has attended more than 400 births, including as a midwife intern in the Philippines in 2015.
“I was able to learn from midwives in a low resource setting,” says Blackham, adding that her registered midwife mentors in the Philippines have delivered many thousands of babies. “I owe a lot to those midwives, my teachers. It was a life-changing experience.”
She returned home and joined a midwifery service in Yuba City, practiced independently as a home birth midwife, and later opened Mariposa Birth and Wellness, Nevada County’s first birth center, in 2018.
Soon after, Blackham joined Western Sierra. She works closely with the clinic’s certified nurse midwife, obstetrician-gynecologist and other women’s health providers.
“Midwives are experts in normal” during childbirth as well as prenatal and postpartum checkups, she says. “When things start going out of range, if there are natural means to get things going back in the right direction, we can use those methods. If there’s a need for additional help, we can access a higher level of care with a certified nurse midwife, obstetrician or maternal fetal medicine specialists.
Patients are encouraged to schedule an appointment as early as possible, regardless of their income levels – or their lack of health insurance.
“Some people don’t realize they can access care if they don’t have insurance,” she says. “But care is available regardless of ability to pay.”
And the sooner, the better, says Blackham, who has decades of experience as a midwife – and mother.
Blackham has nine children, including three she adopted as teenagers who are now in their 20s.
“I always wanted to adopt,” says Blackham, who considers raising nine children her “most significant work.”
“Everyone deserves to have a family,” she says. “There is just so much struggle in the world. People need more encouragement and support.”
And Blackham is committed to providing both to mothers-to-be, new mothers and fathers, and other family members when a baby arrives.
“It’s important to me to provide dignified, respectful care,” she says. “And I’m very glad to be part of a team who are committed to providing excellent, compassionate care to everyone, always.”
Away from work, Blackham enjoys gardening, hiking, playing with her grandchildren – she has 17 – and visiting family. She grew up in Stockton, lived in Washington state for several years, but moved back to Nevada County about 30 years ago. Her family has lived in the county since 1849.
“I love it here,” she says. “This is my home”