Midwifery is often considered by some as an art rather than a profession. Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) offer services to women that make them the sole decision makers of their care, while being carefully guided and advised by providers that are trained to be experts in normal pregnancy, birth, and beyond. We are often considered to be the experts in natural childbirth, and while this is often true, our skills and knowledge extends beyond that of Lamaze breathing and water births. A CNM is trained as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) that counsels women in their childbearing years, as well as provides routine gynecological care to women varying in age, often starting in adolescence and carrying on through their entire life.
I practice dually as a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Certified Nurse Midwife in the heart of the Bluegrass Region in Frankfort, Kentucky. I work at Women’s Care of the Bluegrass alongside five physicians (E.J. Horn, MD, Steve Hall, MD, Angela Saxena, MD, Mark Wainwright, DO, and Amanda Hess, DO) and two additional CNMs (Katie Isaac, CNM, and Kendra Adkisson, CNM). This provides me and my cohorts the opportunity to provide a broad spectrum of obstetrical and gynecological care to women in Franklin, Anderson, Owen, and Woodford counties. It is in these smaller communities, that as a healthcare provider, one will often get to know entire generations of families and watch those families expand through the years. Living my entire life in the small town of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, and providing care locally is perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of being a nurse midwife.
Care by midwives is seen by our practice as an integral care component and a valued option in the low risk client population. Women are given the option at their initial meeting with a care provider as to whether she would prefer a midwife or physician for her care and birth. Patients will often meet all of the staff on hand throughout their pregnancy course if no preference is desired. Midwives are skillfully trained in the physiology behind normal pregnancies and are constantly alert for any high risk conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and a wide array of other maternal/fetal complications that a patient may encounter that could require physician consult. This consult may occur either in the office or in the hospital setting. In the event of any of these situations, care of the patient often becomes a collaborative effort between the midwife and physician.
Perhaps the most often asked question by the public and even medical communities is “What sets midwives apart from physicians?” While there are a multitude of differences and similarities, midwives have a common goal to regard birth as a normal process, while physicians are often sought after when complications arise. Working at Women’s Care of the Bluegrass, these two principals are put into practice while providing a fine balance that allows the highest quality of care.
While unfortunate, Kentucky is a leader at the national level for tobacco use during pregnancy, obesity rates, and diabetes (both during and after pregnancy). While national healthcare reform now requires practices to implement electronic health records, Women’s Care of the Bluegrass has had this technology for nearly 10 years. This allows for the collaboration between midwives and physicians while allowing for more robust educational resources to provide to our patients. It is undoubtedly a favored trait that midwives not only serve as healthcare providers, but excellent educators often giving expert advice on nutritional needs, exercise recommendations, and many other aspects of pregnancy and well-woman care, thus allowing the woman to be more cognizant of her own healthcare needs.
While more common elsewhere in the world, midwifery care is now on the rise in the United States, mostly because women seek the personalized sense of care that a CNM has to offer. Kentucky is growing in the field of midwifery; nestled in Hyden, Frontier Nursing University is one of the most prestigious midwifery training programs in the country. The collaboration that exists between physicians and Certified Nurse Midwives is certainly an excellent and affordable option for any woman seeking a rewarding and memorable healthcare experience.
Katherine Isaac, ARNP, CNM, affectionately known as “Katie” has been practicing midwifery for over 30 years. She completed her training at Frontier School of Nursing and Midwifery and has been employed by Women’s Care of the Bluegrass since 997. She has built through the years a large and loyal patient base for not only her obstetrical skills, but her gynocological experience as well. She estimates she has delivered more than 4000 babies, several of whom send yearly pictures and updates to her.
She is also an active Preceptor of midwifery students from across the state and was awarded the coveted “Outstanding Preceptor Award” in 2011 from the American College of Nurse-Midwives. She sees patients at Women’s Care of the Bluegrass office in Versailles as well as the main office in Frankfort.