Midwives can take time to ensure healthy birthing

Crystal Meyer of Grand Junction closes her eyes as she listens to her baby’s heartbeat while midwife Ruth Ann Price holds a machine that amplifies the sound during Meyer’s prenatal checkup.



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For information about midwives, go to http://www.midwife.org, http://www.mana.org or mesamidwives.com.



“This is No. 4, and this is it. I’m not kidding. Done with a capital D.”

Crystal Meyer is firm on this point. She means it. (Also, she’s 35 weeks pregnant.)

“She’s got a lot of kids going a lot of different directions,” Ruth Ann Price agreed. There’s the busy fifth-grader, the kindergartner and the 2-year-old who thinks he’s pregnant.

“Last time, I had him up here,” Price said, indicating the exam table, “checking his baby, too.”

This sort of thing is fairly typical. Not necessarily a pregnant 2-year-old, but the roll-with-it calm of the examining room. There’s no rush, there’s no conveyor belt, there’s no ticking clock or tapping foot. There’s time for questions, for updates, for meandering conversations. The toddler’s pregnant? Let’s check out his baby.

It’s a normal day for a midwife and her patients.

“I think people choose to come to us because we have more time to spend,” Price explained.

This week is National Midwifery Week, a time for certified nurse-midwives, certified midwives and lay midwives and their patients to celebrate the work they do together — not just in delivering healthy babies, but in maintaining health throughout a woman’s life and in listening to, supporting, educating and empowering women.

“We focus on the well aspects of pregnancy,” Price explained. “We spend more time with people in labor, we labor-sit a lot more than doctors are able to. We’re with women through a healthy pregnancy. We want this to be a life-changing experience. These women grew a wonderful baby and they got it here.”

Price and her colleagues at Mesa Midwives — Janet Grant, Cindy Busker and Annie Richardson — as well as dozens of midwives across the Western Slope work daily not only to aid women through pregnancy, childbirth and through other life stages, but to dispel lingering notions about midwifery.

For the record, rune stones and Gaelic chants aren’t involved.

“(Certified nurse-midwives) don’t deliver babies at home; yes, you can have pain medication; yes, doctors are always on call,” Price said.

Because midwifery runs the gamut from lay practitioners to certified nurse-midwives (CNAs), patients have options, home delivery among them.

However, speaking for CNAs, Price said deliveries are done in a hospital, midwives working in conjunction with doctors and nurses at area hospitals.

“We’re appealing to managed care, too, because generally speaking, our women have fewer C-sections, fewer days in the hospital,” Price said. “(CNAs) are part of the system.”

In general, midwives mostly work with healthy patients, she said. High-risk patients or patients with a history of difficult pregnancies are advised to work with obstetricians, she said.

So, it’s the well aspects of pregnancy that are the focus in the warm, comfortable Mesa Midwives’ examining rooms.

On a recent Tuesday, Victoria Cox sat on the edge of the examining table, having a leisurely conversation with Price while listening to the rapid “whup, whup, whup” of her baby’s heart.

“Is it too late to start that yoga class?” Cox asked.

“No, I think that would be really fun,” Price tells her. “And it’s a good price, $54 for six sessions.”

Later, Price asks her about getting a flu shot, about her job at Safeway, about her husband, about what the anesthesiologist at church told her. Price recommends the book “Birthing from Within,” comments on Cox’s lack of stretch marks and refers to Cox’s records to compare where she is in this pregnancy, weight-wise, with her first pregnancy six years ago.

They spend more than 20 minutes together, mostly just talking.

Cox is followed in the examining room by the Doumit family, Pete and Vanessa, who’s pregnant with No. 4. Five-year-old Madison and 3-year-old Andrew also are along. (“We love it when families come in together,” Price said.)

There’s talk of Vanessa’s nausea and the respite she finds with Sprite. Price recommends papaya and in the next breath asks Pete, a geologist, how work is going and how his book is selling. Then they listen to the baby’s heart.

“I want three girls,” Madison offered.

“If there’s three girls in there, they’re tiny, tiny,” Price said.

“Andrew, what do you want?” Pete asked.

“Boy.”

Talk turns to kindergarten (oldest son Zack is a student), to the birth plan, to weight gain and the possibility of eating sandwiches for every meal.

There’s a leisurely sense of time and an undercurrent of excitement — the baby’s coming! Not soon, perhaps, but on the horizon.

And, several days later, when Crystal Meyer lies on the examining table, declaring this baby her last, she nevertheless beams when she hears the heartbeat and scrolls through everything in the iPregnancy app on her iPhone.

“It’s exciting,” she said, and Price smiled and agreed.


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