Whether you are thinking of getting pregnant or already expecting, you may want to consider the midwifery service offered through the Women’s Health Center and Maternity Services at Phelps County Regional Medical Center (PCRMC).
Heather Wildebrandt, CNM, WHNP, and Karen Ulrich, CNM, MSN, APRN, are part of this innovative program, which has been offered at PCRMC for about a year now.
What exactly is a midwife? There are varying types of midwives, including a lay midwife who is trained as an apprentice, and a certified professional midwife, who receives a formal education program but is limited to only assisting with home births in certain states.
Certified nurse midwives, like Wildebrandt and Ulrich, can practice in all 50 states and are the only type of midwives who can practice within a hospital setting. Certified nurse midwives can help bridge the gap between a home birth and a traditional hospital birth.
Both Wildebrandt and Ulrich were originally nurses who had a passion for women’s health and welcoming babies into this world. They both wanted to further their education, so they decided to complete their training in nurse midwifery to become certified nurse midwives.
As certified nurse midwives, they focus on therapeutic bedside support and high-touch, low-intervention methods. This means working with expectant mothers on increasing physical comfort, such as massages, and helping soon-to-be mothers progress through labor at their own pace. Certified nurse midwives educate mothers on what to expect and anticipated risks.
As certified nurse midwives, Wildebrandt and Ulrich say they try not to rush admitting women into the hospital until they are experiencing active labor, meaning they are 4 to 6 centimeters dilated or contractions have become very close.
They encourage women to walk and move around, not lie in a bed. Anxiety can halt the labor and birthing process, according to Wildebrandt and Ulrich.
In addition to pregnancies, certified nurse midwives help care for women during the postpartum periods as well as throughout their reproductive years. They can perform well-woman exams, discuss contraceptive needs and assist with any post-menopausal conditions.
PCRMC certified nurse midwives can see patients at the main PCRMC campus in Rolla or the Waynesville Medical Plaza.
For more information about midwifery or the PCRMC Women’s Health Center and Maternity Services, please call 573-426-2229 (BABY).