March 14, 2024

Midwife offers personal care for mom facing complications

For Sam Beeson, having a midwife at her side during her pregnancy helped her handle loss and complications — followed by joy in the delivery of her first child.

Sam Beeson, from Portland, Oregon, credits her experience with midwives as a key part of her pregnancy journey.

When Sam Beeson’s pregnancy did not go according to plan, Kaiser Permanente midwife Jane Izmirlian was there for support and guidance.

Beeson, a former registered nurse and lactation consultant from Portland, Oregon, was trying to get pregnant when she met with Izmirlian for preconception counseling.

“Jane was calming but straightforward and confident. I felt like she was actually listening to me and that I was a human being,” said Beeson.

Midwifery is a centuries-old practice, yet some don’t realize that midwives remain an important part of prenatal care today. Midwives play a central role in care for most pregnancies and deliveries at Kaiser Permanente in the Northwest.

Compassionate relationships

“We form compassionate relationships and acknowledge patients’ own experiences and self-knowledge,” said Stacey Wilson, certified nurse-midwife and the lead for midwifery service at the Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center.

She walked me through the complete plan. I felt so taken care of and comforted. And I felt things were going to be OK because of the way she was with me.

Certified nurse-midwives are registered nurses with advanced education and specialized training. They provide care before, during, and after pregnancy. They can also deliver babies and provide family planning, birth control counseling, and gynecologic and well-woman care.

Midwives are typically the first health care professional a newly pregnant patient sees, and as most pregnancies are low risk, many patients never need to see a physician. The majority of babies at Kaiser Permanente Westside and Sunnyside medical centers in Oregon are delivered by midwives. According to Wilson, statistics show that deliveries with a midwife present have fewer C-sections and other interventions.

When Beeson’s first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, Izmirlian was there for her.

“She walked me through the complete plan. I felt so taken care of and comforted. And I felt things were going to be OK because of the way she was with me,” Beeson said. Six months later, she became pregnant again.

Connections during vulnerable times

“There’s an art to connecting with people in this vulnerable time in life,” said Shaanti Abbruzzese, certified nurse-midwife and midwife lead at Sunnyside Medical Center. “We’re here to share our knowledge and expertise to support their decision-making, rather than directing things.”

Midwives work collaboratively with obstetricians, nurse practitioners, perinatologists, and others to prioritize the health and safety of patients and their babies. This team approach centers on patient choice and prioritizes safety, and patients can be moved to the direct care of a physician at any point if complications arise.

For Beeson the choice was shared care for her pregnancy, meaning she would obtain prenatal care through Kaiser Permanente and deliver her baby at an external birthing center.

However, a 20-week ultrasound revealed that Beeson had placenta previa, a rare and potentially dangerous condition in which the placenta blocks the birth canal. Because of this, Beeson agreed to give birth at the hospital — a change of plans that would have been disappointing if not for the relationship she’d formed with her midwife.

Feeling protected and safe

“We had connected so deeply that I couldn’t conceive of the idea of having a birth without Jane,” said Beeson. “She made me feel protected and safe even in this risky area.”

C-sections are common in previa cases. However, Beeson was determined to have a vaginal birth. Fortunately, her placenta eventually moved enough to allow her to try. With the support of her midwife, close consultation with the attending physician, and a team ready to step in if needed, she was able to have the vaginal birth she’d always dreamed of. And today, her son, Riot, is a thriving 2-year-old.

Learn more about certified-nurse midwives and prenatal care at Kaiser Permanente.