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FORT COLLINS — Just as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic struck in spring 2020, Tender Gifts Midwifery & Birth Center in Fort Collins saw its business increase threefold.

“We had to bring on more staff than anticipated because we were so incredibly busy,” said Althea Hrdlichka, a certified professional midwife licensed in Colorado, Wyoming and Arizona and the owner and founder of Tender Gifts. “The calls started rolling in March or April of last year; it was almost immediately.”

Clients at the time said they did not want to go to a hospital to birth their babies, wary about being around those who might be infected with the coronavirus. They also didn’t like that they couldn’t bring family members and friends for support, while Tender Gifts allowed for visits, as long as social distancing was in place (appointments also were staggered).

“Some wouldn’t let the dads in. It was terrible. I did not do that,” Hrdlichka said.

The increased interest in Tender Gifts follows in line with a global trend of expectant mothers searching for options beyond a hospital and learning about midwifery practices, Hrdlichka said. Currently, Tender Gifts takes an average of 12 clients a month and has the capacity for 35 for births both at home and at the center.

“Infant and maternal mortality and morbidity rates are often better out of hospital for low-risk…