The idea of a midwife may sound a bit old-fashioned. In fact, it may even conjure up thoughts of pioneer days, when a man might have gone to fetch a midwife to help his wife give birth.
While all of that has changed, midwives, now certified medical professionals, still play an important part in a woman’s journey through pregnancy.
The Midwifery department at Trinity Health recognizes each birth as unique and offers a wide range of choices for each mother, while viewing pregnancy and childbirth as natural processes.
But midwives can do more than help with births. Midwives can provide family planning and preconception care; do prenatal exams and order tests; watch a patient’s physical and psychological health; help the patient make a birth plan; advise the patient on diet, exercise, medications, and staying healthy; educate and counsel the patient about pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn care; provide emotional and practical support during labor; admit and discharge the patient from the hospital; deliver the child’ or make referrals to doctors when needed.
Midwives work with Trinity Health’s OB-GYNs closely when the need for consultation, collaboration, or referral occurs at any point in their pregnancy. If a patient is considered high-risk and meets particular guidelines, a midwife may transfer patients to an OB-GYN, says Jennifer Johnson, MD, an OB-GYN with Trinity Health. “With their patients, even if I become the managing provider, they will still come to appointments and to delivery.”
Virginia Braaten, a 27-year-old preschool teacher from Minot, was no stranger to the Midwifery office, having seen Erica Riordan, CNM, and Kerena Saltzgiver, CNM, certified nurse midwives, when she was pregnant with her first child, Demy, now 4 years old.
During an examination with her second child, when she was 36 weeks, Riordan felt Braaten’s belly to find it “really hard.” The cause was polyhydramnios, an excess of amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac, which is seen in about 1 percent of pregnancies. At that point, Braaten was referred to see Dr. Johnson, who took her on as a patient, performed the tests, and arranged an induction of the child at 39 weeks.
“They were with me the whole time,” Braaten says of Riordan and Saltzgiver. “Even when I was considered Dr. Johnson’s patient, they were there. It made me feel comfortable having them there. I felt more safe and secure.”
OB-GYNs serve as backup for midwives, Johnson explains. “We work closely in helping manage their patients. Even if we’re not seeing them, if they have any questions or concerns, we act as consultants.”
A Bumpy Arrival
On August 7, 2018, at 7 a.m., Braaten and her husband, Chandler, arrived at the hospital. She was scheduled for an induction of labor at 39 weeks, due to the polyhydramnios diagnosis. Eight-pound, 11-ounce Ayla made her entry into the world shortly after 1 a.m. the following morning, giving Virginia the birth date – 8/8/18 – she wanted. However, there were problems after the delivery.
As she was being taken into the post-anesthesia care unit after giving birth to Ayla, Braaten heard someone mention that she was bleeding and it wasn’t stopping. The next thing she remembered, she woke up 1-1/2 days later. During that time, she had surgery to stop the bleeding. Another form of collaboration between the OB-GYNs happened then: Johnson and her OB-GYN colleagues David Billings, MD, and Tim Bedell, MD, performed a hysterectomy on Braaten.
“I think we work well as a team,” Johnson says. “Obviously, we have our own patients, but if need be, we work closely together to give the best care to the patient.”
Safe at Home
Baby Ayla struggled after birth as well. After Virginia’s mother-in-law noticed that Ayla’s lips were turning blue, doctors found a little hole in her lung. Then, the baby developed pneumonia and was in the NICU for two weeks. On the last day before she was discharged from the hospital, Virginia arranged to have Ayla baptized, in the NICU, by Virginia’s father, Arie Bertsch, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod North Dakota District President.
Mother and daughter have since recovered and are enjoying being at home with their family.
Trinity Health’s Midwifery department includes Erica Riordan, CNM, Nicole Gress, CNM, and Gloria Berg, CNM. Riordan and Gress’ offices are located in Health Center – Medical Arts, 400 Burdick Expy E. They can be reached at 701-857-7385. Berg’s office is located in Health Center – Town and Country, 831 S Broadway, Suite 102. She can be reached at 701-857-5703.