28.Mar.2017 More Wonderful Midwives!


Tiffany on the Left. Melissa in the Middle

I had another great week for visiting with out-of-town midwives.
On a Tuesday I got a message from Melissa McDunn, a nurse-midwife from Great Falls. She and her birth assistant were coming to Bozeman and would be at the Birth Place by 1pm. They wanted a tour. Well, Tuesdays are clinic days and are particularly tightly scheduled. Luckily my 2pm client needed to change her appointment. Melissa and her assistant Tiffany were game for the later meet up.
Melissa had worked for 16 years in Labor and Delivery before becoming a midwife. She attended Frontier School of Midwifery and was able to attend her clinic training in the hospital in Great Falls. Melissa is passionate about gentle birth. In fact her business is called Gentle Beginnings Midwife.

Although she wasn’t able to attend any out-of-hospital births during her training, she is happily providing home birth care throughout much of Montana.  Melissa travels — Chouteau to Manhattan to Lewistown with the bulk of her births happening in Great Falls and Helena. Her practice is building. Tiffany, her assistant, has been helping family give birth out-of-hospital for 10 years. Tiffany is a DONA certified Doula and a birth assistant. She is a wonderful compliment to Melissa’s practice. We had a great time getting acquainted, sharing client stories, and enjoying the shared connections of midwifery in Montana.

Later in the week I met my friend Barbara for lunch. I aspire to be like Barbara.

Barbara is a nurse-midwife with a hospital based practice in Virginia.   She works in a group with doctors and midwives and is well supported in her profession. Barbara has provided care in her area for several decades. In addition to providing prenatal, birth and postpartum care,  she trained to assist at c-sections when her client needed them. Barbara’s practice provides Centering Pregnancy care — group prenatal care that helps build community. They also provide home visits to the women of the Old Order Mennonite community.

Barbara is at the time in her life where she works part-time, travels for fun and family, and gets to provide the gyn part of the midwives scope of practice. She hasn’t attended a birth in a few years.  Barbara says it took months of not attending births before she felt completely rested. She still loves helping women with their reproductive health care but is happy to leave the labor sitting to the younger midwives.

Barbara has also been advocating politically for health care coverage and access to reproductive health care.  She has been a presenter at Town Halls in her area to address the policy needs of her clients. As a petite septuagenarian, her personal and professional experience allows her to speak with authority on teen pregnancy, birth control, and the benefits to society when reproductive health care is accessible.

In one week I got to meet with midwives at the beginning and at the end of the career path.  Amazing women each. And as I sit here in the middle years of my midwifery practice, I am happy to see the passion of a beginning midwife and the wisdom of an elder midwife.  What lucky women we all are!



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