More Eastside moms-to-be turn to nurse-midwives

  • Wednesday, October 14, 2009 5:11pm
  • Life

By Heather Bradford

Columnist for the Reporter

Each year during National Midwifery Week (October 4th-10th), midwives across the U.S. raise awareness of the midwifery profession and the services they provide, which include high quality maternity, gynecological, and well-woman care, with an emphasis on primary care and health promotion.

Since 1996, the certified nurse-midwives at the Center for Women’s Health at Evergreen have been providing primary care and maternity care services to women of all ages. Last month, the midwives delivered their 4000th baby – a cause for celebration of the contributions made to the health and well-being of many women and their families.

“I really appreciated the extra support that the nurse-midwives provide. The one- on-one care in labor really makes a difference,” says Jamie Knowles, who delivered baby boy Conley on Tuesday, September 22. Conley and his two older siblings have all been born into the hands of nurse-midwives.

Why would a woman choose a midwife? While the care of an obstetrician is necessary for high-risk women, certified nurse-midwives are known for their expertise in women’s health, individualized approach to care, emphasis on caring for the whole woman, and preventive health care. Compared to low-risk women who use doctors, low-risk women who use nurse-midwives are more likely to have a safe and healthy birth for themselves and their babies which translates into lower rates of infant mortality and less, low birthweight babies. The midwifery model uses a high-touch, low-tech approach that produces documented excellent outcomes, patient satisfaction, and value-added care.

Nurse-midwives emphasize partnering with and listening to a woman and help her understand her choices for care. Midwives know that each woman has unique health care needs and requires individual attention. They also spend extra time with their patients offering breastfeeding support.

“The women we serve really appreciate the extra time we take to talk through the issues that concern them,” said Michele Jackson, one of the five nurse-midwives in the practice. “Those discussions are really important in helping us understand what their needs are. We use that information to help women have their ideal birth experiences.”

“Given the increasing medicalization of labor and birth, I’m really proud that we continue to offer low risk women an alternative approach to childbirth that emphasizes normalcy, not pathology,” said Janice Smith, certified nurse-midwife.

The nurse-midwives at the Center for Women’s Health at Evergreen collaborate and consult with the obstetricians in their practice when needed (such as when a woman might need a cesarean section), but are able to independently care for women throughout their lifespan.

“Here at Evergreen we’re proud of our connection with the midwives at the Center for Women’s Health,” said Sherry Grindeland, the hospital’s public information officer, noting that 4,778 babies were born at Evergreen in 2008. “Midwives provide excellent care and are a great option for many women in our community.”

Evergreen Hospital Medical Center is the only hospital on the Eastside of Seattle where nurse-midwives deliver; it has an excellent reputation in the birthing world, as it was recently recognized as a Top Maternity Care hospital by HealthGrades, the leading independent health care ratings company. It also has a very busy maternity unit, as more babies are born at Evergreen than any other single hospital in the greater Puget Sound area.*

Heather Bradford is a Certified Nurse-Midwife/Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner for the Center for Women’s Health at Evergreen. Contact her at 425-785-2637 or

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