Making The Switch – An Interview With Celeste Bracey

For low risk women, out of hospital births are proven to be (link, link, link) as safe or safer than hospital births.  Many who do research before, during and after pregnancy are finding that having their baby at home or in a free-standing birth center is their best option (or, in retrospect, would have been their best option).  Not all women come to this conclusion, but many do.  Women who realize this mid to late pregnancy find themselves in a bit of a pickle because to follow their true desires would require switching care providers

Understandably, she may feel fearful of firing an obstetrician and having to speak up to make her desires known.  Family members may be unsupportive of her desires and consequentially plant seeds of fear and doubt in her mind.  She avoids making others feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or angry and fears the judge from others and within herself. 

Birth, parenting and following intuition take courage.  It takes courage to speak up, change plans and do what she knows to be true.  Making decisions in love instead of fear brings true peace that is felt within the body.

The following is an interview with a woman who did just that – recognized and acknowledged the red flags during her prenatal care, did soul searching to discover her true desires and spoke her wishes into being.  Her name is Celeste Bracey and this is her story.

Hey Celeste!  Tell us a little about yourself.

I am Celeste Bracey. I am married to a wonderful man and we have an almost 3 year old little boy who brings such joy and laughter into our lives. I am mainly a SAHM and a work from home mom selling children’s books published by Barefoot Books and in May I started working a couple of days a week at one of my favorite places in Tallahassee – Best Beginnings – This is a great parenting resource center and retail store. I am also in the process of earning my doula certification through DONA International. I love helping moms and their partners have a positive birth experience. In January I will attend a course in Tallahassee to become a CLC – a certified lactation counselor. This is another passion of mine. I want to help moms have a successful and positive breastfeeding experience.  All of these interests have arisen in me since having our son. I had no idea what a gift it is to be a mother!!!
At what point in your pregnancy did you start thinking about using an out of hospital midwife instead of an obstetrician? 
I began thinking about this while we were trying to get pregnant, it took me a long time to have the courage to make this a reality. We lived in Athens, GA at the time and I saw a group of midwives associated with the hospital. Then when my husband graduated from Law school we were not sure where we would end up. He ended up taking a job in Cairo, GA. which happens to be 20 minutes from Thomasville, GA where we both grew up and where all of our family lives. We moved home. I began seeing a midwife at an OB’s office in Thomasville. I knew after the first visit that it was the wrong place for me. I just had a gut feeling about it and so started the search for another OB/Midwife in Tallahassee. I wanted to find a place where I could feel confident that whoever ended up with me on the day our baby was born I would feel comfortable with them whether it be a midwife or doctor. It was very important to me to have no interventions. I wanted a natural birth and I am so stubborn that I would not stay with any group that did not hear that. I started seeing some doctors and a wonderful midwife in Tallahassee. I loved the midwife, but had bad experiences with the doctors. After much heartache, a very empowering Birthing From Within class, and many conversations with my husband we transferred to the Birth Cottage in my 38th week of pregnancy! This was the best decision I have ever made! 

How was the care with your obstetrician/midwife a problem for you?

I am hard headed and I loved reading books about birth and so felt informed about things. I would go for my appointments and leave feeling like the doctor or midwife had not listened to me at all. I told one doctor that I had hired a doula and she said that she was not sure they even helped. This is not based on data that has proven that doulas do indeed help. That was strike one against her and the whole group for me, because as I said above I wanted to feel comfortable with all of the care providers who may have been with me when our baby was born. Then I told her I wanted to write a birth plan and she said that I could do that, but that she would not read it. It would just sit in my file. Strike two. Then another doctor in this same group told me my baby was breach, and after doing the ultrasound to be sure, she told me to prepare for a c-section. She gave me no information about effective ways to help babies turn. Strike three. I was out of there.  Some of the nurses there did find a sheet about lying on a tilt board and they were very nice. By the way our baby turned after using a tilt board, acupuncture, visualizing the baby in the correct position, lots of birth art, that I learned about in my Birthing From Within class, and of course listening to music playing at the bottom of my belly to encourage baby to turn. No C-Section for me thank you very much!
What was it that you were really wanting from a care provider?
I wanted to be heard. I wanted to be supported in my desire to have a natural birth. 

What were your husband’s thoughts about transferring?

At first my husband was scared of the idea of having an out of hospital birth. After meeting with the midwives at The Birth Cottage he became more and more comfortable with the idea. I think that having real, factual information is key in making a decision like this. The midwives at The Birth Cottage gave us this and they listened to us and spent time answering our questions. I also think the Birthing From Within class helped him face some of his own fears about birth and labor, which in turn helped us both make this decision. 
Was there something that pushed you over the edge, so to speak, that made you go with the decision to transfer care?
© Pam England, Birthing From Within

I think there were many factors at play here. We had a wonderful doula, Phyliss Fisher, and her back up doula, Karen Matteson, they were both so supportive and gave me the confidence to find my own voice. I also know that the BFW class that we took played a huge role. The birth art that I did in class and at home helped me face my fear of a c-section and also helped me learn to visualize our beautiful birth happening exactly how we wanted it. It is funny a few days before I went into labor, I painted a picture of me and my husband and our brand new baby in bed at The Birth Cottage. I wrote the words from the book BFW- labor is hard work, it hurts and you can do it- on the painting. When we came home with our new baby, I found this and we were all in the picture just how we had been hours before in the bed at The Birth Cottage snuggled up together. My husband framed it and placed it on my bedside table.

How did you know switching care providers was for you?
I just knew. I finally became honest with myself about it. I had tried to be OK with having a hospital birth, but was really doing that for other people who were fearful of an out of hospital birth. It took me until my 38th week to transfer, but I am so thankful that we did it. My husband is too!

What was the reaction of your OB and of the new midwives when you told them your decision to transfer?
My midwife was so supportive. Like I said earlier I loved her and still talk to and see her. I never saw the doctors again and so do not know what their reactions were. The Birth Cottage midwives were great about taking me so late in my pregnancy. They were so amazing and really spent time getting to know us and what we wanted for our birth. 
How did using an out of hospital midwife work for you?
I will never even consider having a baby in a hospital unless medically necessary. I loved my birth experience. I hope to be able to have a home birth with our next baby! We have come a long way! 

What advice would you give to parents who are currently in this situation?
Follow your gut and heart. Become informed. Take a good childbirth class. Seek out care providers who support your desires and take the time to listen to you. Hire a doula.

Thanks, Celeste!  You were and still are an inspiration!



Celeste (left) in action as a doula


  1. 2


    Well you know I love it! And Lindsey your questions were really good.
    It is amazing how treating birth as natural and as loving can make an impact on someone's life. Look how it did yours and Celeste's. I love watching women transform into these roles.
    So when someone asks me how or why I became a midwife I tell them it was evolution…. one little thing early in my life opened the door to today.
    All of us can make great impacts on others. You can see how just Birthing from Within classes affected Celeste. LOVE

  2. 4


    What an inspiring interview/birth story! I think I've actually met Celeste at BB…I loved her beautiful smile, and somehow I could tell she was a birth warrior. :-)

  3. 5

    Anonymous says

    Celeste is my sister, mom and I just read this interview and agree, Celeste is a birth warrior! She is amazing and we are soooo proud of her and her husband for following their hearts. What a blessing of an addition to the family! We love you Beeny!

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