Founder of Soft Corner Midwifery
Photos by Joshua Langlais
We first met Morgan years ago as a part of our Bay Area community, and even asked her to model for one of our very first collections in 2014! Since we last crossed paths she has been busy, working as a full-time midwife at the Bend Birth Center in Oregon for over 5 years before relocating to Maine to establish her own practice, SOFT CORNER. It has been inspiring to follow along with her journey, (and her beautiful instagram feed), so we wanted to hear more and asked Morgan to share with us a glimpse into her life and practice.
I grew up in California, went to university at UCSC for History of Art and Visual Culture with an emphasis in Museum Studies, and then moved to New York and began working administratively in the Arts. I eventually moved back to California to pursue curatorial work by getting my masters in Visual and Critical Studies through the California College of the Arts. However, upon landing in San Francisco, life took me in a pretty different direction. I was feeling creatively stifled by working formally in the arts. In my free time I would work with the Bay Area Doula Project and Planned Parenthood — offering abortion support services. I found myself more and more interested in bodies and autonomy and less and less interested in the arts. I pretty quickly dropped out of grad school and swapped my art theory books for anatomy and physiology texts.
How did you become interested in midwifery and what was your path to starting your career?
While I formally entered the workforce through arts, I can clearly see that midwifery has always been in my life. I think I’ve probably always wanted to be a midwife, whether I knew it or not. I remember playing with my childhood best friend Jimmy and endlessly catching his birthed stuffed animal babies. He was such a great sport! Even my work in art theory and design all thematically go back to a theme of bodies and reproductive justice. While my career switch may seem like a 180 to outsiders, those close to me saw that natural transition.
What drew you to relocate to Maine and start your own practice?
I’ve been planning on starting my own practice since day-one with midwifery. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial itch to scratch, so I knew this would eventually come to fruition. I truthfully had envisioned my practice being in the California desert for the longest time. So Maine was pretty far on the other end of the spectrum in regards to environment! However, my partner Joshua Langlais, a photojournalist from Maine, took me on a single award-winning tour of the state and I was sold. Maine is magical and it completely sucked me in. I couldn’t be happier about it!
Tell us about Soft Corner Midwifery's approach to reproductive care. What is unique about your practice?
Since the pandemic began, have you seen any shifts in reproductive care or with birthing preferences or in your community?
While midwifery care is the predominant reproductive care model in most countries around the world, working with midwives is the minority model within the US healthcare system. Most of our clients prior to the pandemic were quite informed about the reduced rate of interventions and cesareans, high level of safety and support, and specialized training that come with working with midwives. They sought us out for individualized care in a loving and respectful environment. However, the pandemic definitely brought midwifery and home birth a bit more attention from those that had never thought about it before. In many hospital settings, partner involvement in care became quite limited through the pandemic. I believe the emotional toll on being pregnant in a pandemic also drove people to seek more intimate relationship-based care. Then, of course, people were seeking ways to reduce Covid-19 exposures by avoiding the hospital. An entirely new demographic of people began to ask the question “Why not homebirth?” There was quite a bit of quick “unlearning” people went through during the pandemic to recognize that birth in and of itself is not a pathology or illness and does not necessarily belong in a medical setting. Birth is a normal physiologic event and, in the care of skilled birth attendants, can safely occur in environments outside of the hospital. As a result, most midwives have seen quite an influx of clients since Covid-19 began — ourselves included.
What has midwifery taught you about yourself?
Midwifery has reinforced trust, patience, and intuition. Over and over again I’m reminded of how powerful people are when supported and informed. I see that kindness can prevail in the right environment. There’s so much of the world that doesn’t foster humanity. Midwifery teaches me everyday that going back to the basics of human connection and sharing each other’s personal knowledge base can create positive change.
What is your favorite thing about your career? What is the most challenging?
My favorite thing about my career is of course the people! The team I work with make my days so fun and satisfying. And of course, our clients. It’s such an intimate invitation to work alongside people throughout their reproductive changes in life. It’s quite a gift to share that time and space with people.
The most challenging aspect of being a midwife is being on-call. When it comes to a reliable social life, I’m a complete failure. My life is full of last-minute cancellations because of a birth or sleeping off a birth from the night before. It’s pretty well known that I’ll have to ditch events at the last minute. Birthdays, weddings, dinners, trips to the beach, whatever it might be, I’ve always got my gear in the car and am ready to roll. This of course makes me pretty attached to my phone, which we all know can be a pretty miserable feeling over time.
I’ve painted as long as I can remember and I’ve been painting bodies as long as I recall having painted. Interestingly, while I formally worked in the arts, I wasn’t nearly as inspired to paint. Since stepping into midwifery, I find myself much more at ease painting. I’m fascinated by bodies being these seemingly outward shells of our identity and by exploring the concept of how bodies do and don’t contain us - containing our personalities, our guts, our fluids, all of it. The concept of a body being a “container” is way less contained to me than it was before becoming a midwife.
How do you spend your free time in Maine?
Boating and canoeing on the rivers and lakes, hiking the coastline, any sort of adventuring with Pal, our very special dog (at least we’re fairly certain he’s a dog), and a heavy dose of antiquing and thrifting make up most of my free time.
What is your favorite part of your home, and were there any places that brought you extra comfort in this past year?
The clawfoot tub is my safe haven. While many people’s work lives quieted this last year through the pandemic, mine has been terribly busy. My partner has been renovating our 1940s home, while I’ve been building a business. So while much of the year has been in some form of a construction zone, that sweet glorious tub is my full reset button.
Do you have any self care rituals for yourself after supporting a birth?
If you haven’t noticed, I’m a big bath fan. No matter how long I’ve been awake at a birth or what time of day it is, I love to rinse off (birth tends to involve a few bodily fluids) and then take a soak in the tub. And then boy-oh-boy do I take sleep seriously. I’ve got a bit of a ritual with Everyday Oil, using it as directed — everyday-allover. So I drench myself in that, throw some pjs on and hit the hay. I’m pretty shameless about my eye mask and the drool puddle that ensues shortly there after.
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