Nurse midwives provide lifelong care for women

November 09, 2018

For centuries, midwives have supported women’s health in a number of ways, most widely known for prenatal and birthing care. The services of a midwife can be an important asset for childbirth, as well as providing other aspects of a woman’s care, well into her menopausal years.

A certified nurse midwife (CNM) is an advanced practice registered nurse with specialized training in women's health and a concentration in pregnancy, labor, birth, and care after birth. Nurse midwives affirm the strength of women and recognize the importance of women's health in the well-being of families and communities. Certified nurse midwives use the Hallmarks of Midwifery, as developed by the American College of Nurse Midwives, to guide their care. 

Darla Baker, MS, APRN-CNM, has been a nurse midwife since 1999. She is a certified nurse midwife with Kettering Health Network’s Advanced Women’s Healthcare and has been with the midwife program at Kettering since its inception nearly two years ago.

Baker explained that nurse midwives frequently begin seeing young women in their teens, often prior to the onset of sexual activity. “We may discuss normal changes, birth control options when appropriate, and when to begin cervical cancer screenings and other health checks,” Baker says.

She noted that nurse midwives see women across their lifespan. In addition to prenatal care and supportive care during labor and birth, nurse midwives provide family planning services and contraceptive options, including IUDs, Nexplanon (the implant), oral contraceptives, and other methods. For women who are certain they have completed their childbearing and desire permanent sterilization, nurse midwives may counsel women or couples and may refer to a physician if permanent sterilization is sought.

The best time for a nurse midwife to see a young woman is prior to pregnancy, especially if she is contemplating pregnancy. The nurse midwife will discuss healthy lifestyle choices to help ensure the young woman is in optimal health to start a pregnancy, as well as recommend testing prior to pregnancy if the woman has a history of certain health issues.

During pregnancy, nurse midwives try to cultivate a relationship with the mother and family, provide education, and partner with women to best support a healthy pregnancy, birth, and post-birth adjustment to new parenthood. The goal is to educate and, whenever possible, partner with women to best support their choices.

“We want to ensure that women are able to make an informed choice, with regard to the care they receive and their decisions regarding their labor and birth,” Baker said.

Nurse midwives also provide care during the peri-menopause and post-menopausal years. They are trained to manage the normal health changes that women may experience during this phase of their life, as well as recognizing conditions that may vary from normal and require additional evaluation or referral for specialty care.

The Advanced Women’s Healthcare practice at Kettering Health Network has added more nurse midwives to meet the growing needs of women in the Miami Valley. In addition to Baker, Rhonda Conley, MSN, APRN-CNM, has been a nurse midwife for more than 10 years and joined the practice in January of 2017. Kristie Blake, MSN, APRN-CNM, and Whitney Clark, MSN, APRN-CNM, are two other recent nurse midwife additions.

Click here for more information on the nurse midwives at Kettering Health Network, or to schedule an appointment with a midwife. You also can call (937) 429-7350.