NewsAnnouncements : ‘Midwives Make a Difference’ WRNMMC Offers Centering Pregnancy Classes, Postpartum/Pediatrics Clinic

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‘Midwives Make a Difference’ WRNMMC Offers Centering Pregnancy Classes, Postpartum/Pediatrics Clinic


By Bernard S. Little

WRNMMC Command Communications​

“Midwives Make a Difference” is this year’s theme for National Midwifery Week, observed Sept. 30-Oct. 6.

“Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) provide health-care services to women of all ages. Midwives provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum period,” explained Navy Cmdr. Cathy Luna, certified nurse midwife at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and chair of the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) Perinatal Sub Community Board Assistant Specialty Leader.

Luna, who also is the service chief for Advanced Practice Nurses in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at WRNMMC, added that CNMs may also be primary care providers and perform annual check-ups, contraception, menopausal care and treatment for common infections and health problems.

“CNMs care for about one of every 10 women who give birth each year in the United States,” Luna furthered. “Most of these births [more than 90 percent] are in hospitals,” she added.

In addition to Luna, there are four other midwives who provide care at WRNMMC. “Midwives work with all members of the health-care team,” Luna explained. “CNMs are licensed, independent health care providers with prescriptive authority.” She added that they’ve earned nursing degrees and a master’s degree in nurse-midwifery, graduating from accredited nurse-midwifery education programs and passing a national certification exam. “They must have a license to practice midwifery.”

Luna stated advanced practice nurses (nurse midwives and nurse practitioners) are an integral part of the OB/GYN team at WRNMMC. CNMs Stephanie Jones, Laura Oliveria, Susan Pierson and Luna provide inpatient OB care in addition to outpatient OB/GYN care, and CNM Hope Farrior provides outpatient care at WRNMMC and the Richard Barquist Army Health Clinic at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

Along with seeing patients in hospitals and clinics, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners at WRNMMC facilitate the Centering Pregnancy groups at the medical center.  “Centering Pregnancy is an innovative way to deliver prenatal care in a group setting,” Luna explained.  Each group consists of approximately eight to 12 expectant women due around the same time. They receive medical assessments, education and support throughout the program, which consists of sessions spread out over the course of the women’s pregnancies. Each session lasts approximately two hours, and some of the topics include breastfeeding, nutrition, fitness, mother’s health concerns, blood pressure and growth of the baby.

Nurse midwives and nurse practitioners at WRNMMC also provide postpartum care in the combined two-week postpartum/Pediatrics Clinic program located in the Pediatrics Clinic at WRNMMC. “This is a ‘one-stop shop’ for postpartum families two weeks after delivery. Families are seen by the CNM or NP, the pediatrics provider, and the lactation consultant/social worker, if needed. Both care models [Centering Pregnancy group and postpartum/Pediatrics Clinic] are examples of the family-centered care model practiced at WRNMMC,” Luna said.

Army Spec. Gabrielle Schlaht and her husband Devon, expecting Feb. 3, are in the current Centering Pregnancy group at WRNMMC. “It’s really good and informative for people who haven’t had babies before,” she said. “We knew absolutely nothing and I feel like each week we become more prepared and a little more comfortable with the idea of having a baby,” she added.

Olivia Gawu and her husband, Navy Lt. Anthony Gawu, are due Jan. 29. She agreed the Centering Pregnancy group is very informative. “I would recommend that any first- or second-time mom take advantage of this opportunity the hospital offers.” She added the group is like family with all participants sharing and learning from one another as well as from the nurse midwives and nurse practitioners.

Heather Simons, a nurse practitioner, recently led the breastfeeding course for the Centering Pregnancy group. In 2017, WRNMMC earned the designation as a Baby-Friendly Birth Facility by Baby-Friendly USA along with the World Health Organization (WHO) and United National Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Walter Reed Bethesda became the seventh health-care facility in Maryland, and fourth military treatment facility (MTF) to obtain the prestigious designation of Baby-Friendly Birth Facility by demonstrating a high standard of extraordinary patient care based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding emphasized by Baby-Friendly USA, WHO and UNICEF, according to Luna.

The American College of Nurse-Midwives created National Midwifery Week to celebrate and recognize midwives and midwife-led care. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, CNMs and certified midwives attend more than 330,000 births annually, in addition to conducting annual exams, writing prescriptions, and providing basic nutrition counseling, parenting education, patient education and reproductive health visits.