TUPELO, Miss — Toni Hill has helped many women through their pregnancy journey and has delivered hundreds of Mid-South babies.
Midwifery for Toni has been a long journey. She is more than 20 years into her profession, but she first witnessed an expecting mother give birth at 13 years old.
"And then I read a book, like one of those Little House on The Prairie books or something and there was a midwife mentioned in the book," Hill said. "I was like, 'Oh my goodness, that's what I want to do with my life!'"
She grew older and inquired more about what midwifery included.
"I was like, I want to catch babies at home," Hill said. "That OB told me at that point that people didn't have babies at home anymore. I was like, 'Really?'"
After she had a traumatic experience with her first child, Toni knew she needed to educate herself more before having her second child.
That is when the definition of a doula and a midwife clicked for her, and after supporting her loved ones with their births and going through many hours of training, she noticed the calling.
And she answered.
"In Mississippi, we're at a point where any woman can call herself a midwife. I was like, I feel confident that I had already been to four of her births, so I did it," Toni said. "Then somebody else was like, 'Oh, I heard you're a midwife and I did another one and then I did another one.'"
Hundreds of babies later, and it is still that way. Toni helped to deliver Melody Washington's, third baby.
"She almost kind of reminds me of the Oprah of having babies," Washington stated.
It was Washington's first time working with a midwife. She expressed how the experience was much different from her first two births in the hospital.
"When you're going through pain, you don't want to tolerate that pain. So of course, sometimes it's like a give-up like, 'I can't do this.' But her team was so awesome,'" Washington said. "They were there like my cheerleaders, like my personal cheerleaders to help. Like you got this, come on push one more time."
Toni said there's more to her job than delivering babies. It's more of a community-based effort.
"When I have clients that I know in the community, it's just another conversation, and then when we're going through their pregnancy we're talking about, 'Oh when you were nine, your mom was...' And that's something you just can not get in medical care. Like it just doesn't happen like that,'" Toni said.
She's also current in her basic adult and child CPR, and neonatal resuscitation. She also completed her birth emergency skills training, and STABLE.
Toni received additional training in craniosacral therapy for infants, as well as herbalism and hypnotherapy.
She's a certified lactation counselor and the Founding Executive Director of Northeast Mississippi Birthing Project and Mississippi Center For Birth and Breastfeeding Equity.