One of a four-part series featuring different types of human bonds: The Human Bond
Images by John Hook & Jonas Maon
“Birth is an intimate, sacred event,” says Ye Nguyen, a licensed naturopathic physician. “You don’t want just anybody showing up.” Still, the average hospital birth often involves numerous visitors and staff rushing in and out of the delivery room, introducing tubes and tape and beeps, all beneath fluorescent lights that add a greenish-yellow hue to “It’s a boy!” selfies.
Some families, like FLUX Hawaii creative director Ara Feducia, choose a different experience. “Ye is the perfect companion to have when you’re pregnant,” says Feducia, who delivered her daughter, Ada, with Nguyen’s help in October 2015. “It’s such a gift, being around this woman whose mission is to give to other women and to empower them to go through childbirth without fear.”
Receiving her doctorate in naturopathy from Bastyr University, which specializes in alternative medicine, Nguyen is also a cranio-sacral/massage therapist, midwife, doula, and yoga therapist. She is trained to do some of the same routine procedures that a doctor would do, like taking blood pressure and fetal measurements, and her expertise tells her when to take a home birth to the hospital, as she did with Feducia, after she spent 26 hours in labor at home.
“I have learned how to blend both worlds,” Nguyen says, carefully and respectfully declining to imply that any type of medicine—Eastern versus Western, alternative versus traditional—is superior. “I’m a firm believer in team care support. When I do births, I have an OB-GYN for the medical side so those Western concerns get addressed.” While Nguyen offers comprehensive expertise, her priority is providing emotional support and companionship to her expectant moms. “It’s about trust,” Nguyen says. “They know they can count on me.”
Giving birth at home without drugs reminds us that childbirth is a family affair and not a medical condition to be treated. “That’s something I feel we, culturally, have lost among women,” Feducia muses. “[Dr. Nguyen] has seen me at my most vulnerable and my most powerful. Nobody has seen me like that, weak and strong at the same time.”
This story is part of our Companions Issue.