Melissa Youssi, CNM, stepped back into the midwifery role in October 2016. She originally came to Special Beginnings in 2004 as a new graduate.
The Littlest Lactivist
When she was 8 years old, Melissa marched up to two women who were clearly making disapproving remarks about her mother nursing her two week old baby in public. She boldly informed them:
“My baby brother needs to eat and babies nurse to get milk.”
An activist was born.
Melissa always had a drive to change the world, to empower women and to strengthen the vulnerable. She studied theatre and moved to New York City. After several years of restaurant work, Melissa suffered an injury that forced her to sit still and think about where she was supposed to be.
The universe gave her an answer: midwifery. Midwifery? It was 1997, the internet was young and it could take hours to connect through a dial-up network, but Melissa found the path to her calling.
Becoming a Nurse Midwife
Melissa received a scholarship to a private university in the Bronx with an excellent nursing program. She was 18 months into this adventure before she witnessed birth for the first time. It was the confirmation she needed.
“I was euphoric. There had been some doubt in my mind, not as much as you might think. And then for the first time, in a small room in a big hospital, I witnessed a woman became a mother and a baby slip into life. And it was terrifying and beautiful and simple and magical.”
Melissa went directly from nursing school to graduate school at New York University. By this time, she knew that she wanted to be a birth center midwife. She took a position in Maternal Child Health at NYU Medical Center where she worked Mother Baby, Labor and Delivery, Antepartum and Nursery units while she studied midwifery. Prior to its closure in 2003, Melissa worked as a birth assistant RN at Elizabeth Seton Childbearing Center in Manhattan where she was introduced to the wonders of waterbirth.
She received her Master of Arts in Midwifery in May of 2004 and that fall, she accepted a position at Special Beginnings.
Back in Maryland
Having grown up in Baltimore, Melissa was thrilled to return to Maryland. She and her partner bought a house in northern Anne Arundel County and gave birth to their first child at home in 2006. When their second son was born in 2009, Melissa stepped into a more supportive and part-time role at the birth center: assisting at births, doing postpartum home visits, managing social media and teaching classes. In 2012, Melissa and Jim’s daughter was born. It was her third home birth and second waterbirth.
Melissa loves waterbirth, lactation support and watching families grow. She is happy to be back on the ground floor again, providing prenatal and holistic gynecological care once more. In her spare time, she spends a lot of time driving her children to activities, camping, hiking, reading science fiction/ fantasy novels, cooking and trying to figure out where all of the matching socks have gone.
“Birth is hard, but parenting is the challenge that doesn’t end at a date and time. I want women and their families to find their power in the birthing process, however their stories unfold. How and where your baby is born doesn’t matter as much as your feelings about your journey. Every birthing woman must feel respected and honored during her birthing, so that she can begin motherhood knowing that she is strong. The end of every birth story is a beginning.”
- Bachelor of Arts, Theatre Arts with French minor, Towson State University, 1994
- Bachelor of Science, Nursing, College of Mount Saint Vincent, 2001
- Master of Arts, Midwifery, New York University, 2004
- Certified Nurse Midwife, American Midwifery Certification Board, 2004