Emalee Danforth

I had the good fortune to have had my calling in life find me at an early age; I was sixteen when I realized that I was to be a midwife. A casual conversation with a neighbor about her four homebirth experiences led me to quickly devour the classics "Spiritual Midwifery" and "Immaculate Deception" and encouraged me to meet with midwives in my community. For professional and practical reasons I chose to become a Certified Nurse-Midwife-- thus began my entry into nursing.

I attended the University of Michigan for my Bachelor’s of Science then after graduation moved to the San Francisco Bay area. I grounded my basic nursing skills with a year of medical-surgical nursing before working for two years as a labor & delivery nurse in the city.

Currently I am halfway through my midwifery program at the University of Washington and loving it! It is a very complete feeling to now be in the provider role and to have the pleasure of attending women in labor. It is an awesome experience to participate in the birth of a new child and be present for the transformation of family each birth entails. I am grateful to my faculty, my wonderful classmates and all my preceptors for helping me through this tough but excellent program.

During the second half of my graduate program I am doing a research traineeship as a part of the new NIH program to facilitate entry of predoctoral students into clinical research. I will be doing a secondary data analysis of a large data set to research the maternal & infant origins and childhood developmental impact of varying levels of maternal separation anxiety in the first two years of life.

There are a number of directions I see myself taking in the future. In envisioning an ideal life I think I would have three jobs as a midwife, academic and researcher. I have always been deeply interested in the historical and anthropological aspects of birth in our society and cross-culturally. The more I midwife and listen to women's birth stories, I realize how much "knowledge" of birth – not just its cultural meanings but even its physiological norms and characteristics – are culturally created and agreed upon by the collective. I speculate that after a few years of practicing as a midwife I will venture into a PhD program in medical anthropology.