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.
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.