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Vital Signs

 
Winter 2014

Nurse-Midwives Have Significant Role in Obstetrics at UCLA

01/09/2014

“Our goal is to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and a childbirth experience that fulfills all of their hopes during this incredible time in their lives.”

For more than a decade, certified nurse-midwives have played an integral role on the healthcare team at UCLA, providing comprehensive pregnancy, birth and postpartum care to women and their partners. UCLA’s nurse-midwives care for thousands of patients and attend nearly 450 births each year as part of the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center obstetrics group.

Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are professionals who earn a master’s degree in nursing, complete an accredited midwifery education program and pass a national certification examination. The scope of practice for CNMs includes well-woman gynecology and family planning, as well as pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and early newborn care. In providing care for women with low-risk pregnancies, they focus on health promotion, individualized wellness education and planning for labor and birth. At UCLA, their close collaboration with obstetricians and anesthesiologists ensures that any women who experience complications or desire pain medication have easy and quick access to the medical team. UCLA’s certified nurse-midwives also provide a valuable service by educating the next generation of UCLA-trained obstetricians in strategies that support holistic care and the natural childbirth process.

Women can expect the same level of safety with nurse-midwives as with physicians. “Midwives all over the world are the first providers in normal pregnancies,” notes Shadman Habibi, CNM, MSN, a member of the UCLA nurse-midwife team. “We are an appealing option for women who are looking for a natural, holistic birth process. We spend a lot of time with women and their partners, providing emotional and social support and educating them on options for childbirth as well as issues like nutrition, exercise, breastfeeding and other childbearing issues they are interested in.”

Part of the educational process involves working with the couple toward the childbirth experience they want. For many women who are drawn to nurse-midwives, that means an unmedicated vaginal birth. Habibi notes that a member of the midwife team is at the couple’s side through the birth process, advocating to ensure a safe, calm and quiet environment, the appropriate use of technology and the facilitation of the normal labor process. During labor, the midwife will often provide massage, suggest positions of comfort and encourage a woman to walk or shower for pain management. “Everyone is different,” says Habibi. “But we are there to go through it with them and to assure them that what they are going through, however long, is normal.”

Because of this underlying philosophy and the midwives’ expertise in non-pharmacological pain-management techniques, women who give birth with the support of UCLA’s nurse-midwife team use medical interventions — be it an epidural analgesia, induction of labor or Cesarean section — at a significantly lower rate than the national average. Nonetheless, Habibi stresses that women who choose a medical intervention are fully supported.

“We get to know women and their families, educate them about their options and support their choices,” Habibi says. “Our goal is to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and a childbirth experience that fulfills all of their hopes during this incredible time in their lives.”

For more information about UCLA nurse-midwives, go to: midwife.ucla.edu





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