Paul Wellman

“Birth is much more than bringing the baby safely to the outside,” said Ronda Perea. “It is a powerful spiritual journey that shapes individuals and empowers women.”

Perea’s downtown Santa Barbara practice, Innate Midwifery, offers individualized maternity care that encourages women to follow their natural birthing instincts, whether it’s at home, at a birth center, or in the hospital. Her prenatal appointments cover standard fetal and maternal monitoring, and she also discusses the family support system, the psychological aspects of birth, and the mother’s long-term health care.

“Pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on the body,” says Perea, who, like all midwives in California, is certified through the same medical board as physicians. The United States has the worst rate of maternal mortality in the developed world, and deaths are on the rise. “That’s a really big deal,” she said. Perea believes that a contributing factor is medical intervention when it is not needed. “We have a lot of scientific evidence that spontaneous vaginal delivery is the most healthy option,” she explained, noting that natural hospital and home births are the norm in European countries, where maternal mortality and postpartum complications rates are lower.

“Birth is very rarely a medical condition,” Perea went on. Still, she arrives fully equipped to every birth with medications and oxygen. “Sometimes we do need to medically intervene, and we are really thankful to doctors when it’s necessary.” Over the last several years, Perea was proud to report, Innate Midwifery has maintained an extremely low hospital-transfer rate. Home births can also help control runaway health-care bills. They may cost 50-80 percent less than hospital births.

“Vaginal births and breastfeeding are two of the most important influences on the lifelong health of a baby,” said Perea, who has lived in Santa Barbara and worked with a diverse set of pregnant women for nearly 40 years. Learn more at


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