A journey of two | Certified midwife comes to Orcas

As a kid, Tamary Baz had posters of pregnant women on her walls.

“I grew up fascinated by the process of pregnancy,” she said.

Now, as a midwife, Baz says she “walks the journey” with pregnant women from beginning to end.

“I believe in informed, shared decision-making about people’s health and their bodies,” she said. “It’s meaningful for the birthing process to have that kind of personal relationship.”

Baz, MSM, LM, CPM, opened Island Life Midwifery on Orcas this past spring. She offers prenatal and postpartum care as well as birth services for low-risk pregnancies. Her one-on-one work includes preventative measures and continuous health assessment of mother and fetus throughout the pregnancy; providing labor and delivery care, including medical emergency care when needed; and comprehensive care of mother and newborn throughout the postpartum period.

“When people can count on me to be there, it is really special and fulfilling,” said Baz, who has been a part of 140 births. “A mother and father is born every time – even if they already have kids.”

At this time, she is not offering home births on Orcas because there isn’t a hospital or emergency on-island. She delivers out of the Bellingham Birthing Center or homes on the mainland.

“I believe in natural birth but also that sometimes we need help and should transfer to a hospital,” said Baz.

She is on-call 24/7, carries a pager and has a paging system on her phone. She welcomes clients from other islands and will be offering a clinic several times a month on San Juan Island soon.

Baz grew up in Israel, where she says the term “midwife” was not well-known, so she always planned to be an obstetrician.

At 18, Baz joined the military, which is required for all Israeli citizens. She served for three years and was an officer in the air force. After her service, Baz longed to travel before starting her medical training. She trained to be a diver in Honduras and volunteered at an orphanage in Guatemala for eight months.

“I saw what it looked like for rural communities to not have maternity care,” said Baz.

While in Central America, she met a woman whose mom was a midwife, and Baz knew it was what she wanted to do. But she still desired to see the world, so she spent time in India teaching English to Tibetan refugees and lived in France before returning to Israel, where she was a doula (birth companion) for Sudanese refugees.

When she was ready to start her medical training, Baz chose Bastyr University in Seattle, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degree in midwifery. She graduated in 2016 and began working at Rainier Valley Community Clinic, a nonprofit.

This past January, Baz came to Orcas for a workshop on Buddhism and when she told other participants her profession, nearly everyone said, “Orcas midwife Melinda Milligan is retiring; you have to move here!”

“By the end of the weekend it felt like a really strong calling,” said Baz. “Orcas is underserved and Seattle is saturated with midwives.”

By March, Baz, her partner Scott and their dog Japhy had found a house on Maple Rock Farm. Since May, she has been seeing patients. Scott had a career in the tech industry but was ready for a change, so he found a job building houses.

“It was a really quick process,” laughed Baz. “It all fell into place.”

She originally looked at an office in Eastsound but then realized her own home had the perfect area to see patients. The space is tranquil and filled with light, and Japhy, a golden retriever, sits with patients during their appointments.

“I wanted something quiet and serene with a view of green out the windows,” said Baz.

For more info, go to islandlifemidwifery.com, email islandlifemidwifery@ gmail.com or call 206-349-3693.