Can anyone fill me in on the atmosphere in South Bend, IN and the surrounding area? Are there midwives and open-minded physicians? Farm markets and healthy foods? What would be good areas to look for housing? Does it matter much whether you're on the Indiana or Michigan side of the border? For those who live there, do you like it? What would you consider if you were deciding whether or not to relocate there? Favorite spots? Things you dislike? I would really appreciate your input!
The scoop on South Bend and surrounding area
I am not native to SB but have been here for 7-8 years now, all 3 of my boys were born here. It is a nice inexpensive place to have a family. There is a large farmers market. Supposedly a whole foods coming to mishawaka. There are a handful of midwives, there used to be a big midwife practice, but they got pushed out of business by one of the hospital systems, currently there are 4 nurse midwives who deliver at Memorial - the hospital downtown. They are all nurse-midwives and do hospital births. I don't know much about lay midwives or home births here in South Bend - I am pretty sure attending a home birth is considered illegal in Indiana - but my most recent was a hospital water birth with a midwife at memorial and I had a very good experience.
As for housing - it is pretty inexpensive, there are lots of options. Granger and some parts of mishawaka have some nice newer subdivisions with good schools. There are also some nice neighborhoods in the city of south bend - and some less nice ones as well.
As for deciding to relocate - it depends, we have no family here so when my husband is finished with his lengthy doctoral studies at the University here, we will likely leave. That being said, there are some definite attractions. Notre dame is a big school and has a lot to offer, films, concerts, etc. You are only 90 minutes from Chicago. It is CHEAP. I mean all my family in the Northeast is in shock when they here about the cost of housing and taxes here. Compared to the stresses of urban life, it is easy - traffic doesn't exist, parking is never a problem.
You mention Michigan, do you have enough wiggle room in your plans to move nearer to Kalamazoo? They are definitely crunchy and attatched. Paw Paw is a naturalish town (great vegitarian restaurant) and near Kalamazoo but South Bend wouldn't be too far away
South Bend isn't great for natural or AP families. It is a very big area (Elkhart, Mishawaka, Granger, South Bend) so you can find like minded families but you have to seek them
I recently moved away from the South Bend area, but I did enjoy my time there. There are active LLL and HMN chapters, multiple farm coops (several for meat and dairy, plus Purple Porch Coop, which carries meat, dairy, produce, fermented foods, etc). In addition to the farmer's market in South Bend, there is one (plus roadside stands in some areas) in Granger as well as in some of the smaller towns in the region. Mishawaka has one of the only organic u-pick blueberry farms in the country.
CNM-attended homebirth is legal, and I know quite a number of people who used that option. MIchiana Nurse Midwives and Homebirth and Women's Health are two of the bigger practices, but you can find more listings via ACNM.org.
Another great birth option is Goshen Birth Center, a freestanding birth center run by the CNM's at Fairhaven OB/GYN. Fairhaven is a wonderful practice and I can't say enough good things about the birth center.
There are some great things about South Bend! :-)