Shelly Varelli is a direct-entry midwife serving Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. It is my honor to have trained and now be supported, and work alongside other midwives at Trillium Birth Services, Nine Short Months Birth Center, Northwest Ohio Birth Services, and the Toledo Midwives.
Interested in my midwifery training? I've been doing birth work for almost 20 years and have attended well over 200+ births. I officially enrolled in midwifery school in the fall of 2018. However, in the fall of 2021, my path shifted from a MEAC program to the PEP model. I officially completed my apprenticeship in the summer of 2022. I plan to take the national certification exam (winter 2023) and further pursue adding a midwifery license to my credentials in summer 2023. See my midwifery e-portfolio here (best viewed on a desktop computer).
Shelly has been working with pregnant people as a doula, midwife assistant, and massage therapist for 20 years. She has studied many holistic practices and brings all this knowledge forward when working with clients. When not at work, you will find Shelly hanging out with her family, assisting other community midwives, or living it up with friends in the Old West End (Toledo, Oh).
"In 2006, I founded and maintained Kneading Time Holistic Therapy Center in Sylvania, Ohio. One of the most popular events to be born of that era that still exists is the Natural Living Festival, and the monthly 'complimentary' education and healing-share events. Unfortunately, the center closed in 2009 but within the next 5-10 years, I intend to re-establish a birth & wellness center, and support community access to services via the Toledo Birth Collective, a local group offering inclusive, holistic practices for NWO & SEM.
Midwife, Massage Therapist, Childbirth Educator, Energy Healing Practitioner
Midwife, Massage Therapist, Childbirth Educator, Energy Healing Practitioner
"Within my practice, I aim to provide inclusive pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care that is compassionate, respectful, and culturally appropriate for all clients, parents, babies, and families. I have a personal and professional passion for helping people feel empowered, knowledgeable, and confident."
I was recently interviewed by "Ella" a student with an interest in midwifery. Here are their interview questions and my responses:
1. How did you develop an interest in midwifery?
I knew I wanted to be a midwife when I was a senior in high school. I didn't know any midwives at the time, and I did not realize that there are multiple pathways to becoming a midwife. I thought I needed to become a nurse first, or perhaps shoot for the stars and become an ObGyn (high school yearbook even states that my career goal was to be an OB). I eventually realized that the style of midwifery I wanted to do was not compatible in the medical system. My passion and commitment is serving people with the traditional midwifery model of care that can only truly exist in the community, homebirth setting.
2. How much experience and or education is required to be a midwife?
The short answer is that it can take anywhere from 4 to 10 years.
However, there are several pathways to becoming a midwife: a traditional apprentice trained/direct entry midwife (DEM), a nationally certified professional midwife (CPM), a Licensed Midwife (LM) which not all states offer, or a certified nurse midwife (CNM). Here is a link to learn more about the individual pathways: https://mana.org/resources/become-a-midwife
I am currently practicing as a DEM with pieces in place to gain the CPM credential this year (2023). Here's a link for some information about what the requirements are to become a CPM: https://www.nacpm.org/new-page-2
3. How do you prepare expecting mothers for their pregnancy and birth?
I offer comprehensive care to the pregnant person and developing baby throughout the entire prenatal, birth, and postpartum periods. This is attained through prenatal appointments that generally take about an hour – there's really only about 10-15 minutes of actual clinical care, while the rest of the appointment is spent building a trusting relationship, talking about lifestyle, and preparing for the birth (childbirth education, gathering supplies, etc).
To explain comprehensive care further means that my goal is to asses and monitor your current state of health and well-being (mind, body, and spirit) while concurrently offer holistic, preventative care addressing any shifts away from normal physiological progression of pregnancy and birth.
4. What is your favorite part of being a midwife?
Well, selfishly, it speaks to a part of myself that longs to be in service to others, particularly during times of transformation. I get to be a part of evolution (on so many levels) and create safe spaces for people that truly value the deeply impactful, empowering experience that pregnancy and birth can be... I am committed to restoring birth to its honored, sacred place in our culture.
5. Is being a midwife just focused on home births?
No. It is not. While prenatal care and birth services are a huge component of our care, midwifery's scope includes doing woman care, preconception, family planning, and fertility counseling. Unfortunately, midwives practicing in Ohio are not able to practice to the fullest extent of their training.
Further, in order to have a healthy and safe birth at home we perform a risk assessment at the initial inquiry, and all throughout care, to ensure that the pregnant person and baby fall (or stay) within a low-risk range. Part of the midwifery model is to continue to assess and provide care that helps you stay within the broad realms of “normal”. As we say to clients seeking a homebirth, “it's not home birth at all costs”. Some folks do have preexisting conditions, or risk out at certain times within the pregnancy, and have to transfer into the medical environment. And we're grateful that that platform exists for those needing a higher level of care.
6. What are the different types of birth plans your clients have?
Well birth, plans for homebirth look a lot different than hospital births. At home, we always practice informed consent and decision-making and do not do many of the interventions most people are concerned with. For example, we do very few vaginal exams in labor, we allow you to give birth in any position that feels right to you, we don't scream at you to push, and delayed cord clamping and cutting is part of our normal process - we will often wait till after the placenta has been delivered, and sometimes even well after that, before we ever cut the cord.
Hospital births will be met with medical interventions and standard operating procedures that you must be informed about your ability to decline or consent to. So those birth plans are pretty extensive. I do encourage most of my clients to create a hospital version of a birth plan just in case we do have to transfer it any point.
7. Is the job very spontaneous because women can go into labor any minute? If so, how do you deal with the spontaneity of the job?
The career of a midwife is definitely unpredictable. It requires 24/7 on-call for time frames when you have clients within their 4-5 week estimated due date timeframe. Always keep your phone charged and close by, and be within an hour's location of a client's home -or have another midwife be on call for you. If you have a family or other dependents (kids, pets, etc), it requires a solid system of support. This also means that there may be long stretches of time where your sleep is thrown off, and you have to build in recovery time and be diligent about your own health/self-care habits. It is in the best interest of a midwife to establish really good boundaries (personal and professional), reliable childcare (if you have a family), have experienced birth assistants, and other midwives to call upon so that you can rest, take a vacation, schedule appointments, or have a back up if there's another birth happening at the same time.
8. What is a typical day spent like as a midwife?
My mornings are usually spent looking over any text or emails that have come from existing clients during non-business hours that require a response before the workday begins. I review charts of any prenatal appointments scheduled for that day. Most appointments are done in my office though some clients want or need home visits, and I have to make space in my schedule for travel time as well. I always make sure my birth bag is stocked and ready to go, there's gas in the car, and I'm ready to go at a moment's notice if someone is in active labor -though usually we get some indication when a client is in early labor and have time to reorganize our day. And, I try to go to bed pretty early because babies love to come at night.
Click Here to learn more about Shelly's Midwifery Services and request a consultation:
Shelly Varelli has established her midwifery business practices according to the Midwives Model of Care (cfmidwifery.org). Shelly provides care for low-risk, healthy individuals throughout the childbearing years. All births will be attended by Shelly and a second certified midwife in attendance, or with a trained/skilled birth assistant.
Shelly is a versatile and indispensable member of the community ---supporting midwives and families during, and after labor through mastery of essential skills: management and care of the pregnant client and newborn, childbirth education, neonatal resuscitation, and lactation support (to name a few). Shelly has completed a comprehensive training program preparing her to work independently as a midwife, caring for pregnant people. Shelly is an active member of Professional Organizations such as the Michigan Midwives Association, Ohio Midwives Alliance, and the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM). Shelly intends to take the national certification exam, and earn the credential ‘Certified Professional Midwife’, anticipated Winter of 2022. Certified midwives hold the skills, certifications, guidelines, and community standards set forth by NARM, the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), and the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) meeting all required standards for accreditation, certification, and licensure.