Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital is proud to offer midwifery services as part of its mother-baby medical care. Sarah McKee is a family nurse practitioner (FNP) and a certified nurse midwife (CNM) on staff at the hospital. With her training and certifications, she’s able to follow both mother and baby throughout their lives, really getting to know them. This allows her to provide individualized and holistic pediatric, women’s health, and maternity care, including:
- gynecological care
- birth control counseling
- prenatal care
- labor and delivery support and management
- postpartum care
- general family medicine services for pediatric patients
Prenatal, Labor & Delivery and Postpartum Care
As a certified nurse midwife, McKee supports low- to moderate-risk expectant moms as they prepare for motherhood, while offering individualized care plans that best address their needs. Every patient is unique, so McKee prioritizes getting to know each patient, providing guidance and support with the least amount of intervention that’s medically necessary.
“When it comes to expectant patients, my goal is to support and empower them to have the birth experience they want. This is their journey. My patients take the lead, and I’m there for support. They’re doing the work, and I’m simply there to guide them,” said McKee. “However, I recognize that things can change very quickly during labor, so if a patient needs to be induced, we induce. If a patient needs or wants pain medication, we provide it. We create a plan and work to follow it, but we also talk about keeping an open mind, and if we need to pivot, we pivot to provide the safest care.”
At Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital, midwifery patients have access to all the amenities offered in the Mother Baby Unit, including comfortable, private labor and delivery suites; labor support resources such as birthing balls, birthing stools and squat bars; pain management options; etc. McKee oversees her patients’ labor and deliveries with the support of our obstetricians, who are on-call and available, as needed.
Comprehensive Health Care Services for Women and Children
In addition to providing prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum services, McKee cares for women and children in all phases of their lives and health care journeys, providing her patients with an array of comprehensive health care services, including:
- Routine wellness exams
- Pelvic and breast exams
- Family planning counseling
- Contraceptive counseling (including intrauterine devices)
- Pediatric care beginning at birth
A Brief History of Midwifery
Midwifery is not a new concept – there are references to midwives in ancient Greek and Roman texts as well as in the Bible. The midwife profession has been around for hundreds of years, starting in the seventeenth century.
In many wealthy, industrialized countries – the United Kingdom (including the Royal Family) and Sweden – midwives remain very popular, attending most labor and deliveries. Midwifery was also popular in the U.S. until the demand for these services dwindled in the early 1900’s.
Then, in the 1970’s, midwifery experienced a resurgence in the U.S. as more women wanted more natural childbirth experiences. It was also during this time that nurse-midwives helped introduce certain maternity care concepts that remain popular today, including:
- Family-centered maternity care which allowed fathers in the delivery room,
- Developing childbirth education to help prepare expectant parents for labor and delivery
- Promoting mother-baby rooming, where the baby stays with the mother after delivery instead of staying in a separate nursery
- Promoting the benefits of breastfeeding when most hospitals were pushing the convenience of formula
The midwifery field has evolved significantly in recent years. Today’s certified nurse midwives are highly educated, specialized health care professionals, who provide comprehensive medical services for women. In addition to prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum care, certified nurse midwives offer gynecological examinations, wellness checkups, contraceptive counseling, prescriptions, and in some cases, pediatric care.
Despite a long, established history in the medical field, several misconceptions about midwifery persist today. Here are some frequently asked questions (and answers) about certified nurse midwives and their capabilities, which you may find helpful as you explore your health care provider options.
Q. Do certified nurse midwives undergo any formal education or training?
A. Yes. A certified nurse midwife must be trained and licensed in both nursing and midwifery. For eligibility, they require a BSN (Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing) from an accredited institution and an advanced degree (Master’s degree) in Midwifery. Certified nurse midwives are certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB), where they take their original test and complete continuing education to maintain their certification.
Q. Do certified nurse midwives only focus on pregnancy, labor and delivery?
A. No. Certified nurse midwives also provide comprehensive women’s and pediatric health care services, including routine wellness exams, pelvic and breast exams, family planning counseling, birth control, prenatal care, labor and delivery support, postpartum, and pediatric care.
Q. Do certified nurse midwives only work with low-risk pregnancies?
A. No. At Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital, certified nurse midwife, McKee, supports low- to moderate-risk pregnancies. This includes patients who have diet-controlled gestational diabetes; high blood pressure; and fetal growth restrictions. She collaborates with the obstetricians at the hospital and other maternal fetal medicine specialists as needed.
Q. Do certified nurse midwives support using pain medication during labor?
A. Yes. If a laboring mother opts to use pain medication to alleviate some of her labor pain, her certified nurse midwife will support that request. Midwives also recommend other methods for pain relief during pregnancy and labor and delivery, including certain exercises, stretches and position changes.
Q. Do certified nurse midwives allow for inductions?
A. Yes. If a patient wishes to have an elective induction of labor at 39 weeks, has medical reasons, and/or is more than one week past her due date, then a certified nurse midwife will support an induction of labor.
Q. Do certified nurse midwives work with obstetricians or physicians at the hospital?
A. Yes. At Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital, McKee always has a physician on call with her, so that if there’s a change or complication during a patient’s labor and delivery, the physician is available for consultations or a C-section, if necessary.
Q. Do certified nurse midwives perform c-sections?
A. No. However, if a laboring patient ends up needing a C-section, the certified nurse midwife will often accompany her patient into the operating room, continuing to offer her support.
Q. Do certified nurse midwives perform vaginal birth after caesareans (VBACs)?
A. Certified nurse midwives can assist an expectant mom pursuing a VBAC, if she qualifies for a VBAC based on certain criteria. However, Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital, along with many other hospitals, do not offer VBACs due to the increased risks and staffing required. If one of our expectant patients desires a potential VBAC at Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis, our providers can facilitate this referral and transfer of care in pregnancy. Otherwise, the patient can undergo a repeat C-section in Sullivan.
Q. Why would a patient choose a certified nurse midwife for her pregnancy?
A. Choosing your provider is truly a personal choice. Midwifery embodies the idea of women supporting women. For McKee, she approaches each patient holistically with the goal of meeting that patient’s needs with as little intervention as possible. She’s not opposed to intervention when it’s medically necessary. Her belief is that she’s there in a supporting role, and the expectant mom is the lead, particularly when it comes to labor and delivery. McKee works with her patients to come up with a birth plan and help them realize that plan. She also reminds her patients to keep an open mind and to pivot, when necessary, to achieve a healthy, safe delivery for both mom and baby.
For more information about the midwifery services at Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital or to make an appointment with Sarah McKee, CNM, FNP, please call (573) 860-6000.