Featured Story Written by Sagan Wheeler and Shelby Quintana

Meet Our Modern Midwives

Ivinson Memorial Hospital continues to expand its women's health services by offering certified nurse midwifery care to women in Laramie and surrounding communities.

2 2018 Midwives Dept Photo 2

In Novem­ber, Eliz­a­beth Rowe, certi­fied nurse midwife, began seeing patients at Ivin­son Medical Group’s Women’s Health Clinic. Esther Gilman-Kehrer, long-time Laramie resi­dent and certi­fied nurse midwife, also joined Ivin­son Memo­r­ial Hospi­tal in a part-time capac­ity. Together, the two will bring to Ivin­son an excit­ing service that is often requested by expect­ing moth­ers — midwifery.

Elizabeth’s vast expe­ri­ence in nurs­ing and fierce advo­cacy for women’s health led her to midwifery prac­tice. Liz grad­u­ated from Univer­sity of Colorado College of Nurs­ing in the nurse midwifery program and completed her inte­gra­tion at Saint Joseph’s Hospi­tal in Denver before moving to Laramie with her husband and two chil­dren. To me, birth is not only about bring­ing new life into this world, but it is also about creat­ing strong and confi­dent moth­ers,” Liz said, when speak­ing about her midwifery practice.

Esther has been prac­tic­ing midwifery in Wyoming and Colorado for over 16 years. After actively prac­tic­ing in Laramie from 2002 to 2010, Esther obtained her doctor of nurs­ing prac­tice from the Univer­sity of Colorado College of Nurs­ing. She returned to Laramie in 2012 and has stayed involved in the Laramie medical commu­nity work­ing at Laramie Repro­duc­tive Health Clinic as a family nurse prac­ti­tioner and teach­ing in the family nurse prac­ti­tioner program for the Univer­sity of Wyoming. Esther is a passion­ate advo­cate for midwifery care, and supports women and their fami­lies through preg­nancy, birth and beyond. Esther is delighted to join the Ivin­son team to help rebuild the midwifery program while taking monthly obstet­ric call.

Liz and Esther will be prac­tic­ing with OB/​GYNs, Drs. Kim West­brook and Derek Ewell, in a team-based model where OB/GYNS and certi­fied nurse midwives work collab­o­ra­tively to care for patients of the Women’s Health Clinic. We are thrilled to offer midwifery care again at Ivin­son Memo­r­ial Hospi­tal. The addi­tion of midwives to our team will strengthen our women’s health­care program signif­i­cantly. Our certi­fied nurse midwives offer another provider option with a slightly differ­ent philos­o­phy of care than physi­cians, which is extremely valu­able to our commu­nity and our clinic,” offers Dr. Kim Westbrook. 

While the feed­back from our Ivin­son team and commu­nity members has been resound­ingly posi­tive about offer­ing midwifery care to our commu­nity, there are many who want to know more. What is a midwife? How do midwives differ from OB/​GYNs? Can I see a midwife through­out my pregnancy? 

Certi­fied nurse midwives are advanced prac­tice regis­tered nurses with at least a master’s degree who are board certi­fied in the specialty of midwifery. Midwives are experts in normal low risk preg­nancy, birth and post­par­tum care in a support­ive envi­ron­ment. Midwives also provide care for women across their lifes­pan, includ­ing well woman, contra­cep­tive, and menopause care. Midwives at Ivin­son prac­tice within a team-based model of care and consult with obste­tri­cians, peri­na­tol­o­gists and other health­care providers and will refer to appro­pri­ate medical profes­sion­als if compli­ca­tions arise. 

A common miscon­cep­tion is that birthing with midwives requires an all-natural deliv­ery. Our midwives work to provide indi­vid­u­al­ized labor support, mean­ing all modes of pain manage­ment are avail­able to you, rang­ing from an unmed­icated birth to epidural anal­ge­sia. Certi­fied nurse midwives have hospi­tal priv­i­leges and can prescribe medica­tion and also work with certi­fied regis­tered nurse anes­thetists for epidural care. Our midwives’ goal is to help you achieve the birth expe­ri­ence you envi­sion in a support­ive, caring environment. 

Compli­ca­tions in labor and in birth can occur, but the team-based approach to obstet­ric care at Ivin­son Memo­r­ial Hospi­tal means the midwives and physi­cians work collab­o­ra­tively to handle any compli­ca­tions that may arise. If a cesarean deliv­ery is neces­sary, your midwife can accom­pany you and your part­ner to provide addi­tional support in the oper­at­ing room. 

If you are inter­ested in work­ing with a midwife, our team will review your history and help decide if a midwife is right for you at the begin­ning of your preg­nancy. You may still receive the bene­fits of midwifery care even if high-risk condi­tions arise, while you, your midwife and physi­cian work as a team. This is a shared deci­sion between you and providers.