“I wanted to work with low-income patients, and even more specifically work here at Highland. This has really been my dream.”

Laura Todaro

Certified nurse-midwife, Alameda Health System–Highland Hospital

I have always been interested in women’s health, and trained as a lay healthcare provider at the Berkeley Free Clinic. From there I did a lot of birth and postpartum doula work, and taught childbirth classes for many years.

I ultimately had a really transformative birth experience at home with both of my children, and was inspired and empowered to take on a bigger role in getting people ready for birth. If you had asked me then, I probably would have told you that I wanted to be a midwife, but I didn’t think I could. I was a single parent to two kids and was the sole provider in my household. I felt like I needed more of a real career, all the benefits and flexibility that come with nursing.

The birth of my second son was the impetus. I hadn’t gone to college at that point, and I didn’t feel like I was going to be able to pursue a graduate degree, but it turns out that I could, and I did. I wanted to work with low-income patients, and even more specifically work here at Highland. This has really been my dream.

I feel blessed that I’m able to have a Centering group here. Even though I am their medical provider, there’s something about the dynamic and the atmosphere that feels comfortable and familiar. We’re at ease; we laugh a lot. Centering is really about connection and enjoyment.

We are prepared to take care of patients from around the world. We are always adjusting to whatever our patients might need, and we’re not coming with one agenda. We want to address the whole person—within their family and their community.

When I walk into a room to meet a patient, I take a moment to center myself and show up and say, “It’s so nice to see you. What can I do to help you today?” We start there, and it might be a really immediate need. Someone needed a sandwich today, so I got her a sandwich. She also needed help with housing, so I made a referral to our health advocates. I assured here we’re not going to send her home with a baby to the streets. We’re going to assist with that.

We try not to make assumptions about how people got to where they are, but just to see where they are. We’re going to help them be the best they can in this moment, and have the healthiest, safest pregnancy possible, and treat them respectfully from beginning to end.

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