Dr. Kai Parker
It was a surprise to Kai Parker in her first obstetrics class that midwives were still providing important assistance to pregnant women who desired to have their babies safely and naturally at home. Her instructor at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine showed a video of a home birth and by the end of the viewing, Parker knew that her life’s work would be devoted to helping families peacefully bring new life into the world.
This “beautiful surprise” has shaped the philosophy for this D.C. native, returned home in 2012. From her practice in West End, between Dupont and Georgetown, Parker treats all members of the family, employing her advanced training in women’s health, pediatrics and midwifery. She notes, “I love working with happy, pregnant women—taking the journey of pregnancy and childbirth with them.”
Although she has the capacity to write prescriptions, giving a pill isn’t always the most natural (or effective) remedy. Like other naturopathic physicians, she works to discover the root cause of symptoms, thereby using the signs of illness as clues to a patient’s wellness. Parker notes, “So many times allopathic physicians want to quiet symptoms. I don’t want to take that headache away because it teaches me and the patient to act differently. Maybe the patient isn’t getting enough water or not enough sleep or not eating the right foods – or eating foods that might be bad for them. The person has the symptom for a reason so I want to know exactly what is causing that pain so the patient can learn to stop it before it starts.”
When dealing with mothers-to-be, Parker is usually contacted as soon as the mother discovers that she is pregnant. At this point, Parker offers a free meet-and-greet session, enabling the parents to come in and ask questions. According to Parker, “It is very important for a couple to feel comfortable with their midwife. I give them an opportunity to meet me first and make sure that I am the right midwife for them.” Once a decision has been made, prenatal care begins at about 10 weeks.
Throughout the pregnancy, appointments are held at Parker’s office until 36 weeks of pregnancy, when Parker makes a home visit to prepare the mother and the rest of the family for the home birth. After the baby is born, she conducts the first two postpartum appointments at home, giving the mother and the new family the chance to rest, rather than rushing out of their home to an appointment.
Throughout this entire period—prenatal through postpartum until the baby is two months old—Parker is on-call for the families 24 hours a day. She notes that “new moms and dads have questions. I want to make sure they feel very well held and very well cared for. I want to make sure they know they have someone to call who can answer their questions.” Because of that commitment, she only commits to attending the births of four pregnant families each month.
During the birth process, Parker helps to support the laboring process, putting the emphasis on the mom, the dad and the baby (and siblings, if present). Her goal is to stay out of the way as much a possible so they can experience their birth while guiding the father or partner in ways that can support the mother. The formality of Parker’s training and degree is set aside and she becomes “Kai” to the family.
Parker’s desire for excellence in her craft has led her to even more training. She is finishing her masters in acupuncture from the Maryland University of Integrative Health and is now taking her education even further in their doctoral program in Oriental Medicine. Acupuncture was part of her original naturopathic training and is an important tool her diagnostic toolbox, so she has completed additional training in order to utilize this modality in her practice.
Parker is very passionate and committed to her vocation, as evidenced by the manner in which she devotes herself to her studies and her patients. But the sacrifice appears to be easy as she notes, “This is not a job that I chose. This job chose me. This is something that I know I was born to do and I feel very privileged and honored to take part in the process of pregnancy and natural childbirth.”
To learn more about Dr. Kai Parker, visit her website at DCMidwife.com.