For her second pregnancy Tara Summers knew she wanted to work with a midwife. She had seen her own sister give birth twice under the care of midwives and was deeply impressed by the personalized level of care her sister received.
When she learned that Denise Wilks, a certified nurse midwife, had recently been introduced to the Bryn Mawr Hospital community, part of Main Line Health, she jumped at the opportunity to work with her.
From the very first appointment with Wilks, it felt more like a friendship than a doctor-patient relationship, Tara recalls. What really stood out was when her due date was determined to be in August and Wilks said, “Well I guess I’ll have to change my summer vacation to July.” Still impressed by the level of commitment, Tara says, “What doctor plans their summer vacation around you?”
Tara also had some concerns about giving birth vaginally as her first baby had gotten stuck during delivery and the doctor had told her she might have to have a C-section the second time around. Knowing that having a vaginal birth was important to Tara, Wilks gave her ideas for stretches and offered extra guidance throughout her pregnancy, including additional ultrasounds to ensure the baby didn’t get too big. This was to make sure Tara had the best chance of having the birth she wanted.
“Every time I met with (the midwife) she wanted to answer anything I could possibly think of,” Tara says. “She was very encouraging of my progress. Whenever I left there I felt encouraged and optimistic about my pregnancy.”
Tara was also struck by the fact that Wilks gives her cell phone number out so patients can reach her with questions or concerns any time, via voice or text.
“It was comforting to know that if I went into labor early she would also be on her way to the hospital,” says Tara, “instead of getting there and being seen by a doctor on call that I’d never met before.”
As the due date approached, it became clear that inducing the baby early would give Tara the best chance of delivering naturally, before the baby grew too big. Tara opted for an epidural as well, but unlike during her first labor when she was only checked on periodically, Wilks was with her every step of the way.
“She helped me with different positions to try to get the baby to drop. She also consulted with one of the doctors in the practice when she had a question, because of my first baby getting stuck. She wanted to ensure my health and that of my baby were first priority.”
Tara delivered her second baby vaginally as she had hoped and can’t say enough about the midwifery model of care for pregnancy, birth and postpartum. “I think the word ‘midwife’ can be misleading. Somehow people think it’s old school, or midwives don’t know as much as doctors. People don’t realize how educated and skilled the midwives are, and that you can have that personalized care along with their skills and education. I wouldn’t go any other way if I had a baby in the future.”