July 2012

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workWith MeTehmina Islam Providing expectant mothers healthy alternatives for care Searching for Birthing Options? When you're expecting (or hoping to soon), Madison is full of prenatal and labor care options, from hospitals to at-home care, birthing centers and more. But if you're still unsure which is best for you, visit, a national organization dedicated to pregnancy wellness, for a helpful guide. Tehmina Islam was just 16 the fi rst time she witnessed a woman giving birth. At the hospital to support a friend in labor, it was an eye-opening experience that set the course for her career. "I was really moved by the Islam comes in. Just 27, Islam is the fi rst woman of color the feeling that her friend's experience could have been different. While hospital births attended to by a doctor or a midwife offer an ideal setting for many, throngs of woman today are exploring alternatives, such as birth centers or their own homes. Th is is where power of birth," she recalls. What also stayed with her was to become a Licensed Midwife in Wis- consin—and is one of a handful of local midwives specializing in homebirths along with pre- and postnatal care. "Th is community is enriched with members committed to fi nding alterna- tives that are more sustainable, that are safe, and that provide true options to all people," she says. Providing a safe option to those who seek it is Islam's goal, but along the way, she's also discovered that midwifery is about more than working with women and chil- dren—it's about a commitment to com- munity engagement and education. Born in Texas to Indian parents, Islam uses her cultural perspective to promote health education for low-income women and women of color. She also makes time to serve as a facilitator at the Madison Wis- consin Institutes for the Healing of Racism, through which she leads discussions about the effects of racism in society today. Whether it's helping women bring their babies into the world or promoting health education close to home, Islam says it all comes back to a big-picture vision that inspired her career. "I thought if I could support a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy woman [and baby], those healthy families would lead to healthy communities," she says. —Tuesday Wustrack July 2012 31 Photo by Shanna Wolf

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