By Bernard S. Little
“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
“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
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
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.