National Midwifery Week takes place in October, making it the perfect time to celebrate one of the world’s oldest professions and recognize the importance and accomplishments of our midwifery team here at Essex County OB/GYN! We sat down with Tess Brickley, one of our amazing Certified Nurse Midwives and Women’s Health Practitioners, to talk about her journey in the midwifery field.
What inspired you to become a midwife and support mothers on their journey into motherhood?
I was working as a research assistant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital out of college and knew I wanted to work in obstetrics and birth, but I did not know exactly how. I met a midwife who was working there and I just really connected with her values, why she did what she did, and why she specifically chose midwifery.
One of the things we talked about, which I think was the most impactful, was she acknowledged the things that drain her in her job and the things that fill her up kind of end up equaling out. She felt she gave as much as much as she received in her job. She felt enlivened, enriched, and inspired by her work, by the patients she met, and by the part of people’s lives she got to participate in.
What inspires me moving forward is healthcare equity. I believe health care can be much more inclusive than it is and “women’s health” as a title is not inclusive enough. It does not rob anyone else of visibility by including other people in the conversation. I try to see people as people before I see them as patients. This is important for everyone, but even more important for people who are historically excluded and do not feel heard.
How can midwives positively impact the birthing journey?
All midwives are trained as nurses. When you think about the people who impact your healthcare journey the most in any hospital situation, for the most part, it’s your nurse. It’s the person who’s at your bedside, who’s helping you up to use the bathroom, and who takes care of your necessities. This informs the rest of our training.
Midwives positively impact any labor/reproductive/birthing journey, and also your regular outpatient office care because our core values are rooted in nursing. This gives us a sense of trust with our patients, which is a really wonderful part of my job. In addition, we are trained in obstetrics as advanced practitioners. Midwives are highly skilled professionals, we work very hard to see patients as individuals and respect their desires while making sure they are safe throughout their labor.
How do midwives provide support before and after childbirth?
Midwives are clinicians in the office as well, so we can see you during your pregnancy. We typically have longer visit times than the physicians do – at Essex County, we have 20-minute visit times, which is lovely! We have time to talk about what to expect on labor and delivery and answer any questions you might have. After childbirth, we can see you for your postpartum visits.
Midwives are skilled clinicians who can see patients in other capacities as well. At Essex County OB/GYN, we are able to see GYN patients in the clinic, so we can see you for your annual exams. If you are someone who prefers midwifery care, we can see you for vaginitis, GYN problem visits, sexually transmitted infection testing, pap smears, etc.
How do midwives work alongside other professionals to ensure the best care?
There are quite a few cogs that make the machine run in the office and on labor and delivery. When it comes to our clinical staff, everybody is highly important to the smooth functioning of the office, making sure people are seen in a timely manner, and ensuring all needs are being met. This includes our administrative staff and our teams of MAs in the office who are the first people patients see when they come in. They move people into rooms, take their blood pressure, and ask them how their day is going.
We work very closely with nurses in labor and delivery who are highly skilled and who spend the most time with our patients. They are the people at your bedside, making sure all your needs are met. Our wonderful team of nurses at the office are the people answering your phone calls and making sure important medical concerns are getting triaged quickly.
Midwives at Essex County OB/GYN also work alongside our physician colleagues to ensure the best care possible. Our physicians do surgeries, so if there is ever a concern that a patient might need surgery or their medical history is just more complex, they might require physician care. Therefore, we like to include our physician colleagues in our decision-making. If there’s anyone we might need to refer to a physician, we are sure to do so. We have a fantastic team of physicians who are highly skilled and provide compassionate care.
How do midwives support individual birth plans and personal preferences?
You can always bring your list of birth preferences to your midwife and we’ll talk to you about what our recommendations are!
It’s important to acknowledge the high variety of possibilities in labor and birth, and having a plan is (as much as I use this statement) a little bit of a misnomer. The plan is always to have as safe and as healthy of a birth as possible!
The preferences sheet is just a way for you to talk about what’s important to you, what your values are, any fears or concerns you have, and anything you want us to know in particular. I think this is important if you have a particular history, something that would make care traumatic for you, or something really positive for you to include. We want to know about it!
At Essex County OB/GYN, our midwifery services offer a personalized, family-centered approach to healthcare, with a focus on empowering patients to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. Our team includes highly skilled and compassionate certified nurse midwives who provide a full range of reproductive health services including prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum care, and routine gynecological care. We offer midwifery care at the Essex County OB/GYN Danvers, Beverly, and Gloucester offices. Contact us today to book your next appointment!