When it comes to having babies, Stephanie Barnett likes doing things her way: Go natural, without an epidural. Get down on the floor and crawl around or lie over an exercise ball to relieve back labor. Deliver the baby on hands and knees if it feels better.
With five children, ages 6 years to 9 months, she’s grateful to the TriHealth Nurse Midwives who have been her coaches, confidants and champions for each birth.
“They do everything possible to help you have a healthy baby, as safely as possible,” she explains. “It’s like having a friend who really cares about you and wants the best for you. They truly listen to you. I love that.”
Stephanie’s fifth baby had to be induced, and she was anxious about what that experience would be like. Her labor was in full swing at the end of the shift for her nurse midwife Christy. “Christy got a phone call and told the person, ‘I’m not going anywhere. I’m not going to leave her.’ She wanted to be there and see me through to the end.”
Experts in Normal Pregnancy and Childbirth
Sue Wenn, MSN, CNM, a certified nurse midwife with TriHealth Nurse Midwives who has delivered two of Stephanie’s children, emphasizes that nurse midwives share many similarities with obstetricians/gynecologists: “We follow similar safety standards, order the same labs, deliver care with the same timeliness and follow the same guidelines for labor. We’re experts in normal pregnancy and childbirth,” she explains.
Nine TriHealth Nurse Midwives deliver babies at TriHealth’s Good Samaritan Hospital and have physician backup should a normal delivery become high risk. If a woman needs a C-section, the nurse midwife stays to support her through her birth experience.
Certified nurse midwives have a master’s degree, usually in nursing, and are required to pass a national certification exam. Nurse midwives don’t insist on unmedicated childbirth either. Instead, they educate women about a range of options for pain control and respect a woman’s choice for pain relief, whether it’s an epidural or a more natural approach.
“We value options,” Wenn says. “We encourage every woman to complete a birth plan. Stephanie likes low intervention, and we try to facilitate that.”
Taking Quick Action
Most of Stephanie’s pregnancies have gone smoothly. Although she is small, standing at 5 feet, 2 inches, her babies tend to be large. She had borderline gestational diabetes with three of her children, which the nurse midwives helped her control with diet. Only with her youngest child did she have to take medicine for the final two weeks of her pregnancy.
“They’re not scared to deliver a big baby,” Stephanie comments. “I trust them not to let anything bad happen. They know when to get help.” Her second and largest baby, Ruth, who entered the world at 9 pounds, 6 ounces, was having trouble breathing as Stephanie tried to push her into the birth canal. The nurse midwife called in reinforcements and worked to move the baby’s shoulder to get her out safely.
“I trust them with high risk,” Stephanie says. “Other doctors could be there, but I’d want them there, too.”
Delivering More Than Babies
Nurse midwives devote a large part of their practice to delivering babies, but they also provide “well-woman care” from teen years to maturity. They recommend screenings for breast and cervical cancer at appropriate intervals, provide family planning, offer guidance to women before they get pregnant and offer support for breastfeeding and postpartum care issues once the baby is born.
“We’re educated in patient education and communication,” Wenn says. “We individualize our care and allow women to have a say in how they want to do things.”
Stephanie approves: “I wouldn’t go anywhere else. It’s been perfect.”