Jenn Head knows what it takes for a woman to have a successful pregnancy.
Aside from having three children of her own, the Ashland midwife has attended births around the world — in prisons, in towns with no running water and in Uganda, a country with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.
Through her experiences, she learned the importance of having a safe, healthy pregnancy, filled with support, resources and comprehensive care.
What: Ashland Mama Maternity Closet clothing swap
When: 9 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8
Where: Oak Grove Midwifery, 190 Oak St., No. 4 (upstairs), Ashland
Contact: Jenn Head, 541-601-6591
"It's a human right," said Head, who runs Oak Grove Midwifery in Ashland with fellow midwife Rachelle Canady. "We want to make sure moms and babes are taken care of."
So when a client last year asked Head to pass along her old maternity clothes to someone else, Head realized she could take comprehensive care one step further — by offering comfortable, free clothing to any mother who wanted it.
She began collecting clothing from clients and created the Ashland Mama Maternity Closet, a community swap of maternity clothing and baby outfits.
"Maternity clothes are really expensive, and you only use them for a few months. Environmentally, it just makes sense," she said.
Since then, Oak Grove has collected an assortment of items — stretchy pants, maternity tops and dresses and a basket of clothes for babies.
She allows her clients to pick through the items when they come in for appointments or want to stop by, and last week the practice held its first public maternity clothing swap — allowing any expecting mother in the valley to pick through the clothes.
"I don't want to buy too much," said Lindsey Williams, who heard about the swap through the local Mamas Medicine Wheel email group.
Williams, who is 27 weeks' pregnant with her first child, said she liked the idea of recycling the clothing between women. Though she isn't a midwifery client, Williams was able to take home some new clothing for herself.
Oak Grove plans to continue holding a public clothing swap on the second Wednesday of each month, and will accept donations anytime their office is open.
Head said they have a lot of summer clothes right now and are in need of more winter clothes and coats. She said women are mostly looking for casual maternity wear and basic items that work well for layering. The closet also has mostly newborn clothing for babies, though they will accept items up to 12 months in size.
Donations can be dropped off at the Oak Grove office at 190 Oak St., No. 4, Ashland.
Head said she has wanted to give back to the community in some way since opening the practice in summer 2010, and believes the clothing swap is a good start.
In the future, she said the practice hopes to mobilize, and is considering starting a program to better serve the needs of pregnant migrant workers in the region — whether they plan to have a home or hospital birth.
"We really want to delve into serving the people here," she said.
Teresa Ristow is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email her at email@example.com.