When Suzanne Blaney found out she was pregnant, she didn’t call a doctor. Instead she made an appointment with a midwife.
“Once we found out we were going to have a baby we researched a little bit and just knew that that was the way, we used a midwife.”
Two children later, she’s happy with her decision. Suzanne still uses a midwife for her feminine health care.
“Even though I’m not pregnant or planning on getting pregnant I just use them as my annual checkups.”
Zoe Sheppard is a certified nurse midwife with Lee Memorial Health System. With a Master’s degree in nursing and additional coursework in midwifery, she’s trained and ready to serve her patients.
“We deliver babies, we take care of patients from the very first day they know they’re pregnant throughout the entire course of pregnancy. We deliver their babies, we take care of them postpartum,” says Sheppard.
The role of midwife is taking on new status. It used to be a low-cost way to ensure good care, primarily fond in inner city clinics. But like pregnancy itself, the role has grown and expanded.
“Within the last twenty years midwifery has really grown among the educated parents who want to have more of a role and more of a say in their care, often will seek a nurse midwife. We really want to empower these families with the information that they need to make good decisions for a good pregnancy,” says Sheppard.
Despite misconceptions, midwives are able to prescribe pain medications and nurse midwives deliver babies in the hospital, with a doctor available for emergencies.
“Most of us were labor and delivery nurses prior to pursuing this. We are quite aware of what can potentially go wrong. Therefore we try to make this much like a home setting as possible but within the safety network of the hospital,” says Sheppard.
Patients like Suzanne consider it getting back to basics.
“From day one the whole feel is different. It’s less medical, it’s more natural. It’s more of a friendly relationship where they get to know you. The midwives really take time and they’re really part of the family by the end of the experience.”
Keeping the experience personal; it’s something midwives deliver everyday.