Midwives not only help bring babies into the world, but they also seek to empower women and keep women in charge of their health. Kerena Crowe and Erica Riordan, two certified nurse's midwives at Trinity Health, spend their days trying to do just that.
Midwives are not just for women who are or were pregnant. They can perform gynecological exams, help with preconception planning, provide prenatal care, assist during labor and delivery, offer guidance with breastfeeding and other newborn care issues, and help women who are going through menopause.
Certified nurse's midwives are trained as both nurses and midwives, having at least a bachelor's degree; most also have a master's degree. They must pass a national certification exam from the American College of Nurse-Midwives and receive a state license to practice.
Kerena Crowe, left, and Erica Riordan, certified nurse’s midwives at Trinity Health, study a model of the female reproductive system in an exam room at Health Center-Medical Arts. Midwifery is a growing field and both Crowe and Riordan are kept busy in the practice.
It's not exactly a new concept to have midwives in the Minot area, however. The first midwives were here when Trinity Hospital merged with St. Joseph's Hospital in 1994. It is believed that the late Dr. Arie Fishbach helped start the midwife program. In 2001, the midwives joined the staff at Trinity Health. Currently, the midwives at Trinity do not do home births.
There are also some misconceptions surrounding midwifery, even in the modern day, as both Crowe and Riordan listed off several. Crowe said some misconceptions are that midwives can't give pain medication and that they only care for pregnant women.
"We care for the young adolescent throughout the lifespan," Crowe said.
Riordan said another misconception is that midwives aren't educated. However, by 2015, it's recommended that all nurse practitioner educational programs be transitioned from the Master of Science in Nursing degree to the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Midwives tend to spend more time with women and provide more one-on-one care, said Riordan, explaining why many times midwives are chosen over a physician.
"We work in collaboration with physicians and take care of normal, healthy pregnancies," she said. "We can be a support for women in delivery."
Crowe added that a lot of people like and want the holistic approach to medicine, where the focus is on the mind, body and spirit instead of just the body.
The midwives receive a lot of support from the OB/GYN physicians as well.
"They are a big support of the (midwife) program," said Riordan. "We have to have a team approach with the physicians because we can't do everything."
The two midwives at Trinity, Crowe and Riordan, are very busy, averaging about 25 deliveries a month. They also get a lot of referrals, Riordan said.
"I feel like we have a lot of people from the Air Force and oilfield who don't have families here, so they get support from us," Riordan said.
People from Williston, Bismarck, Rugby, Devils Lake or Crosby will drive to Minot to see the midwives, Crowe said.
On a national level, midwifery is a growing field, Riordan said. The goal is to have 1,000 new midwives each year in the U.S., but the number isn't quite there yet.
"We offer individualized care," Riordan said. "Patients come in with responsibility for their care. We give them the information and they make decisions for their care."
Riordan and Crowe are accepting new patients and people are welcome to call for an appointment. They can be reached at 857-7385 and are located at Health Center-Medical Arts.