The main job of any OBGYN or Midwife is to ensure the health of mothers and babies, but birth in the United States is still a business. Lesley Rathbun has spent the last 30 years advocating for women’s health while becoming a well-known figure in the fields of birth center entrepreneurship and legislation.
Lesley began her career as a Registered Nurse in Texas. She has worked in a wide range of positions in the field of women’s health including as a surgical assistant and childbirth educator. Lesley has worked in both large and small hospital settings, from an Amish Birth Center to a modern Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
In 2004, Lesley graduated with a Master’s in Nursing and dual certification as a Nurse Midwife and Family Nurse Practitioner from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
In 2008, Lesley successfully navigated the birth center market in South Carolina and founded Charleston Birth Place (CBP). Under her leadership, Charleston Birth Place has welcomed almost 2500 babies and was designated by the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) for CBP’s high rate of intact perineums & triple AIM achievement, some of the highest achievements in the industry.
“Lesley is very passionate about the work that she does and the women that she serves. She created her own very large, very successful birth center in a community that didn’t have that option available beforehand. She developed the market within that community and she did it to the very highest of standards,” said Amy Crockett, MD. “She understands a lot about the policy that governs midwifery practices and birth centers and that is also very important. It’s just such a new industry. The regulations are changing all the time and she has a very good perspective on that as well.”
Lesley’s expertise and tireless advocacy for mothers and babies have shaped maternity care on Capitol Hill too. She has educated legislators on both sides of the aisle about the role birth centers can play in alleviating the health care provider shortage in the US, making legislation surrounding birth centers a bipartisan issue.
“Lesley represents the best of midwifery and midwives. She has been an advocate for midwifery for a long time, not just in our state of South Carolina, but on the national level as well. She understands the barriers to access to midwifery. She understands the nuts and bolts of running a birth center,” said Crockett
In addition to being a two-term past President of the American Association of Birth Centers, Lesley is a member of The Midwife Alliance of North America and the American College of Nurse Midwives. She continues to publish in academic journals on how birth centers staffed by midwives provide safe, affordable, and satisfying care to low-risk mothers and infants. As Grow Midwives’ Senior Consultants, Lesley helps our clients navigate the legal and business aspects of owning and operating a freestanding birth center.