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BVHS Expands Midwife Care


Blanchard Valley Health System (BVHS) has been expanding its midwifery program, which offers childbirth options with fewer medical interventions for women who desire it.

The midwife approach involves less intervention and a more “natural” approach to childbirth, said Brenda Sciranka, specialty and women’s health director for BVHS. It’s designed for mothers who have no serious health risks like high blood pressure and who want natural childbirth without Pitocin and with fewer pharmaceuticals.

Melissa Moore, APRN-CNM, APRN-CNP, said midwives often use methods other than medication for pain relief, including massage, application of pressure, hydrotherapy, movement, presence and support, coaching, breathing techniques, and positions in labor. However, many of their patients choose epidurals or other types of medication for pain control.

Moore and the other midwives at BVHS are certified nurse midwives, which means they are registered nurses who have graduated from an accredited nurse-midwifery education program and have passed a national certification examination. They differ from lay midwives, trained through apprenticeship and without legal recognition.

“People often assume that certified nurse midwives are the same as lay midwives and deliver babies in people’s homes,” Moore said. “However, we deliver only within the safety of the hospital.”

Additionally, BVH has obstetric hospitalists on the premises 24 hours a day, ensuring safety.

“They work with the midwives as a team,” Sciranka said. “Our OB hospitalists can step in immediately if needed. In the event additional support is needed, the team responds quickly to work toward the best outcomes for mom and baby.”

Moore said delivery with a midwife is not meant for women with high-risk health diagnoses or who need C-sections.

She said midwife delivery, if unmedicated, may include birth in various positions, including out-of-bed births.

“Midwives promote maternal-fetal bonding in the form of immediate skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) and delayed cord clamping and cutting after delivery when appropriate,” she said.

She stressed that certified nurse midwives are trained and educated as nurses first.

“We are passionate about this work and committed to evolving with evidence-based care,” she said. “We believe in watchful waiting and nonintervention in normal situations. Midwives also promote a continuous partnership between patients and providers in healthcare. We feel that presence and communication can be therapeutic and that the normalcy of life-cycle events in low-risk situations should be honored.”

Nikki Ballinger, RN, clinical manager–maternity, said midwives could give women wanting low-intervention labor that option.

At Blanchard Valley Hospital, women stay in the same room throughout labor, delivery, recovery, and postpartum, Ballinger said. That way, they have everything they need and are cared for by the same nursing staff.

Ballinger started her nursing career on the BVH OB floor in 2014 and described the associates and physicians as “a very close-knit family.”

“The nurses are so caring and compassionate,” she said.

Some of those nurses have worked there for more than 20 years and have had the chance to witness babies whom they had helped deliver come back as adult women about to give birth to babies of their own.

“It’s a very full-circle moment for them,” Ballinger said.

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