Valley midwife perfected her skills in Russia |

Valley midwife perfected her skills in Russia

by Linda Hiller

As a young girl, Molly Caliger Rybak felt drawn to the country of Russia. Later, when she was a young teen-ager, reading Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky made her feel a connection to the Russian soul.

“I never really thought I’d end up living in Russia, but something about it always fascinated me,” she said.

Caliger Rybak did eventually go to Russia to live – from 1992 to 1997, where she ran the Russian Birth Project, a non-profit internship program enabling American students to learn midwifery through Russian hospitals.

“Midwives are used in countries all over to deliver most of the world’s babies,” she said. “America is the only country that doesn’t widely use them.”

Caliger Rybak said she became interested in the process of midwifery after the 1986 birth of her first child, Violet, in a Chicago hospital.

“It wasn’t that I had a particularly bad experience, but I just felt it could have been a lot more satisfying,” she said. “I felt there could have been more close support from my caregivers.”

In 1988, she gave birth to a son, Graham, and this time the birth was at home rather than in the hospital.

The next year, Caliger Rybak went to to El Paso, Texas, to study midwifery, interning in a hospital with a high volume of deliveries. The majority of the patients there were pregnant women from Mexico, who came across the border into the United States for inexpensive, good quality medical care.

“At that time, it cost $600 for the whole thing – prenatal care and delivery,” she said, adding that with as many as 70 patients delivering babies through that hospital, she was able to participate in a wide variety of childbirth situations.

It was in El Paso that her ongoing fascination with Russia began to inspire the eventual midwife internship program.

“I started dreaming about the possibility of going to Russia to learn from midwives there, and bringing American students over for study,” she said.

Through a series of events, she did finally get to Russia in 1990 for a brief visit, staying with her future husband, Gheorghy, whom she had previously met in Chicago.

“Then in 1992, I returned to Russia and visited maternity hospitals, talking to doctors there, and they were open to the idea of bringing American students there to study,” Caliger Rybak said.

The internship program ran for five years and after that, she decided to return to the U.S. to give birth to her third baby and start her own midwife practice.

Citing the friendly attitude toward homeopathy in this area, coupled with the fact that her brother lives here, the Rybaks chose Carson Valley to settle in.

After giving birth to their daughter, Anastasya, in an inflatable tub of warm water on Dec. 5, Caliger Rybak said she is ready to begin to establish her midwife practice here in Gardnerville.

“So much of midwifery is about healthy prenatal care,” she said. “We spend up to an hour with a patient at each prenatal visit. This is important because midwives deliver normal pregnancies, and if there are complications, the cases usually get referred out. Our first treatment is prevention.”

Caliger Rybak said the move to Carson Valley from Russia has been somewhat of a culture shock for all her family.

“As a parent, I notice that it is much more materialistic here,” she said. “In Russia, relationships are the most important thing. My husband, who was born in Russia, says that here people smile more, but their relationships are more shallow and there, people smile less but their relationships are more sincere.”

The Rybaks are home-schooling their children, Violet and Graham, who are fluent in the Russian language and say they miss their Russian playmates.

Nevada has no licensure requirements for laypersons practicing as midwives. The only requirement is that the midwife attending a birth must comply with state regulations regarding tests after birth and must report sexually transmitted diseases and vital records.

For more information on Caliger Rybak’s practice of midwifery, call 782-6659.

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