Treatment: Midwifery Care
EvergreenHealth is happy to present our maternity patients with a wide range of choices for the birth of their babies, including both OB and midwife deliveries in our nationally recognized Family Maternity Center.
When Carly Daniels discovered she was pregnant with her first child, she - like many women - instinctively reached out to an obstetrician.
“I just thought, ‘Oh, I’m pregnant. I need to make an appointment with an OB.’ I didn’t even think about what my options were,”Carly says.
That started to change after speaking to her cousin, a nurse-midwife who recommended she consider midwifery care for her pregnancy and labor.
The idea appealed to Carly. She was set on having a natural birth, free of medication, and had heard that midwives were extremely supportive of a woman’s choice for low-intervention.
Still, as a first-time mom, Carly had concerns.
“I was looking into birthing centers, but it was a little scary thinking about not being in a hospital,” she says. “What if something went wrong? Then I looked on the EvergreenHealth website and realized that, with nurse-midwives, you can have the baby in a hospital, with regular checkups, but you still get the benefit of having a midwife.”
Heather Bradford, a certified nurse-midwife at EvergreenHealth Midwifery Care, says one of the two biggest misconceptions about midwifery is that they only attend home births.
“’Midwife’ is an overarching term. There are different kinds,” Bradford explains. “Nurse-midwives attend nursing school and specialize in midwifery, so we have full prescription authority, can admit patients to the hospital and we even see women who aren’t pregnant—from teenagers to menopausal women, to everyone in between.”
In fact, women who see nurse-midwives at EvergreenHealth Midwifery Care have the same lab tests and ultrasounds, take part in the same number of visits and deliver in the same place, the Family Maternity Center.
The nurse-midwives can also turn to EvergreenHealth physicians for consultation, collaboration and referral.
In many cases, however, each prenatal visit lasts longer as nurse-midwives place a special focus on education, nutrition, exercise and talking women through other normal aspects of pregnancy.
Bradford says the goal is to empower women during their prenatal care visits, enabling them to be active participants in their care and help them achieve their desired birth experience.
“It’s not that we deliver the baby,” she says with a laugh. “The woman delivers the baby, and we just catch!”
In reality, the Midwifery Care team does more than that, which is why Carly Daniels continues to return to EvergreenHealth.
The 30-year-old Everett resident is now mom to four children, all delivered naturally. And because Daniels tends to have lengthy labors, she particularly appreciates that EvergreenHealth’s nurse-midwives are with her throughout the entire process, always there to give her an extra push.
“I think what midwives do that’s unique is that when our patients arrive at the hospital, it’s our intent to meet them at the door and be with them in labor the whole time,” says Bradford, who delivered Carly's fourth child in. “We’re intervening if we need to, but we’re also just present in the room, reminding them, ‘you can do this, everything is going to be fine, your body can do this.’”
That type of reassurance was exactly what Carly looks for, particularly because she tends to have long labors. As the hours pass, she’s found that comforting words can go far in helping her achieve her desired natural childbirth.
“With our first daughter, I think I would have ended up with an epidural were it not for the midwife’s support,” Carly says. While in labor with her third child “Heather kept saying, ‘Carly, you’re a rock star.’ I know she’s seen many births, so for her to say to that to me kept me going.”
Every woman has a different idea of what will make an ideal childbirth. For Carly, it was important that her experience included natural births.
That’s not always the case, however - and Bradford says that’s the other biggest misconception about midwifery. Nurse-midwifery patients, in fact, can have pain medication, and women attended by the EvergreenHealth midwives choose to have an epidural 50 percent of the time.
Ultimately, the midwifery team is about supporting mothers-to-be, and their choices. That’s why, when Carly Daniels looks to the future and the possibility of another child, she has her eye trained on returning to EvergreenHealth.
“I wouldn’t want to give up on those relationships we’ve built,” she says. “I really like how personal the midwives are, not only in the labor experience, but throughout the whole pregnancy. It feels like you’re going to see a friend each time you go for a visit.”