Shiela VanDerveer is the Founder & Primary Midwife of Comadres Midwifery, a home birth, wellness and healing practice in Sonoma County.
I meld a strong 25 year long background of social change making into my practice of midwifery as well as an unwavering belief in midwifery care as an essential part of creating a more peaceful world through evidence and loved-based practices. I have been in private practice for over a decade and am dedicated to the art and science of “undisturbed” birth, skillful midwifery care and client-centered healthcare as a conscious practice.
I bring a good dose of humor, an open heart and a mighty laugh to each and every one of my clients. I believe in your innate wisdom and am excited to help you know what is right for you and your family as you journey through pregnancy into becoming a parent.
One of my favorite questions that I receive from clients is about what brought me to midwifery and why do I care so deeply about this work. The story I generally tell them is about how I was called to midwifery through a fifteen-year-long journey of being deeply passionate and active in advocating for women, girls & trans/queer health on various political, social, environmental & clinical levels including my women’s studies education from the University of New Hampshire and working in various capacities in multiple nonprofits throughout New England.
The part I don’t mention as frequently, but is even more significant, is that I was called to midwifery at the moment I was born into this world. My birth mother was a young woman of seventeen and I was given up for adoption at my birth. While I do not consciously know any other details of this story, what I do know is the visceral wisdom inherent in the mother/birthing parent/child connection, the value of its sanctity and how to care for this bond, which is a life long commitment of mine and is at the core of my work as a Midwife.
As part of my journey to becoming a Midwife, I studied herbalism and natural healing with many skilled herbalists including Deb Soule of Avena Botanicals & Susan Weed of The Wise Woman Way. I received my first herbal certification in 1991 and have continued to learn from various teachers, including my clients, about the many benefits of herbal medicine and healing. I incorporate herbal medicine, homeopathy, flower essences and essential oils fluidly into my practice and love teaching about herbal allies.
As my activist career continued on it led me to rural India & Nepal with an NGO called Crabgrass and coordinated an international conference called Women & Water whose mission was to identify the rights and responsibilities of water quality throughout SE Asia and its impact on women & children. It was the women I met with on this journey, their testimonials, their courage & strength that moved me to listen more deeply to how I could help, how I could teach & heal with my hands as well as my heart.
And then — the Call. The Ah Ha moment. Of course. I was destined to serve women, birthing people and families as a co-creator of safe, authentic births. As a muse for the creative journey of pregnancy, birth and parenting. As an educator for mind, body & spirit wellness. As a protector of your innate wisdom. As a champion for the importance of undisturbed birth. As an intuitive self-care guide and a listener to what babies are telling us. As a Midwife.
After I returned to the states in 1999, I further expanded my skill set by becoming a licensed childbirth educator and doula and have been attending births ever since. I was fortunate to do my midwifery training through the National College of Midwifery and at the Northern New Mexico Midwifery Center in Taos, New Mexico. I chose this program because of New Mexico’s rich history of midwifery care and out-of-hospital birth practices. I valued that the program had established OB backup. Given my strong advocacy history and experience, I wanted to learn the art & science of midwifery in a collaborative manner. And this is what I did. I became licensed in 2006 and have been in primary practice ever since.
During my time as an apprentice midwife, I began The Gatekeepers Fund, a small nonprofit whose mission is to ‘give childbirth back to the family’ by providing midwifery care in areas of need and advancing the midwifery model of care through community outreach and education.
Through the Gatekeepers Fund, I have provided midwifery care in areas of need such as post-Katrina New Orleans and in Anapra; a barrio of Juarez, Mexico. I am excited to be working on reinvigorating the Gatekeepers Fund. As part of my commitment of giving childbirth back to the people and the original place of my inspiration, the GKF will develop programming and fundraising opportunities to support the Birth Village in Kerala, India to continue expanding their capacity of providing natural birth education, out-of-hospital birthing options, evidence and love based midwifery care to Indian women and their families.
In my practice here in Northern California, I am honored to continue to care for families of all kinds and working diligently on expanding access to and understanding of the midwifery model of care and the undeniable benefits of birthing out-of-hospital and on one’s own terms. I work with a variety of community midwives and as part of my commitment to traditional midwifery training, there will be apprentices as part of your care.
I have witnessed the arrival and caught hundreds of babies from the woods of New England to the Mountains of New Mexico to the expanse of the Bay Area in California. Simply put I am honored to be called to this work, I am excellent at my job and I believe in midwifery care as an essential part of creating a more peaceful world, together and one gentle birth at a time.
Thanks for visiting! I look forward to hearing from you.
-Shiela and the Comadres Crew