Beth Quinkert is celebrating a major career milestone. The certified nurse-midwife has delivered nearly 4,500 babies over her legendary 25-year career. She now serves as the director of the Tree of Life Family Birth Center in Jeffersonville, Indiana, which recently delivered its 500th baby.
Quinkert said she became the midwife she wished she had when she gave birth to her first child at a young age.
“When I was a teenager, I got pregnant and I went to an obstetrician over in Louisville during my pregnancy and the doctors were very paternalist,” she said.
“They would call me ‘little girl’…when I would ask questions, like if I would take childbirth classes, they’d say, ‘Well honey, you don’t have a husband and he’s the only one that can go with you, so you don’t really need those classes.’ Like I don’t need education myself.”
She gained the knowledge she needed to prepare for the experience and eventually discovered she was pregnant with twins even though the doctors didn’t diagnose her with carrying twins because they didn’t have the ultrasound technology they use today. Her twins are now 44 years old.
When Quinkert got pregnant again, her friend suggested that she talk to the head of obstetrics in Harrison County ahead of time. And suddenly everything fell into place.
“We sat down, and she just listened to me about all the wrongs I felt in my pregnancy,” Quinkert said. “She answered questions. I started seeing her for my new pregnancy and she delivered my baby down in Harrison County.”
After she gave birth for the second time, she started teaching childbirth classes to expecting mothers. “I decided every woman needs somebody like that. Every woman needs somebody they will talk to that will listen to them, their concerns and act on their concerns.”
She became a nurse and worked in the labor and delivery department after graduating from college. Quinkert even joined the Army and worked with midwives in Florida and Kentucky before settling down at Clark Memorial Hospital. She then went on to earn a master’s degree in midwifery from the University of Kentucky.
When she first started working in labor and delivery, she focused mainly on the health of the baby, but now she makes sure to check on the mother too.
“I need to know if there is some trauma we need to heal them from,” she said. “We get a lot of transfers in this practice, a lot of people that have had babies at other places or they are pregnant now and have been seeing another provider and they’re just not feeling heard.”
The Tree of Life Family Birth Center is one of only six in the state and the next closest birth center is in Nashville, TN.
“They see us over at WomanCare doing prenatal care over there,” Quinkert said. “They see us at WomanCare for prenatal care and we do our visits over there. They come in every month for the first several months, then come in every two weeks, then weekly.”
The facility is equipped with beds and bathtubs for women who prefer a water birth. The walls are lined with empowering messages to help the patients feel welcome. Their families and children can even be in the room with them when they give birth.
“We deliver, they go home in four hours, the next day they come back here,” Quinkert said. “They bring the baby back here, we do a complete assessment on mom and baby again.”
Her longtime colleague Diana Evans has been at her side for much of her career.
“She’s an amazing woman,” Evans said. “…my daughter had two sets of twins and she delivered all of them. I would trust her with anybody, and I would tell anybody that.”