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Making Memories

Just seconds after Diane Maher gave birth to her daughter Amanda, she remembers bonding with her new baby, feeling the newborn slowly start to awaken and become aware of her new surroundings.

Her fondest memories of her child’s birth are of getting to know the baby by holding her close to her own skin without any interruptions to their first tender moments together.

The Sioux Falls mother of three says she chose to give birth with a certified nurse midwife, because she knew that the experience would be one she’d never want to forget.

“With all three of my children, I have wonderful memories about when they were born,” says Diane, as her three-week-old daughter sleeps nearby. “It’s important, because it’s something that you’ll remember forever.”

Choosing a low-tech experience

Long before she had her first child, the medical researcher knew that she wanted to have the kind of birth a certified nurse midwife (CNM) could provide. A CNM has a Masters of Science degree in nursing with additional, specialized training in midwifery.

Diane first learned about CNMs when she taught a biology course. She was intrigued by their more personal, relationship-based approach to both prenatal care and labor and delivery.

As she researched the topic and talked to other mothers, she came to the conclusion that she wanted a birth without unneeded medical interventions or the risk of an unnecessary cesarean section. While she was not opposed to the idea of having an epidural if she needed one, she wanted to try to give birth without any pain medication if possible.

“I think childbirth is a natural process,” Diane said. “I liked the idea of being supported by someone who truly believes in a variety of methods to support a woman in labor. I felt that a CNM would provide me with the best personal support, so I could have a normal delivery and a healthy baby.”

About six years ago, Diane gave birth to her first child, Kyle, with the help of a CNM. She gave birth in a Minnesota hospital, and valued the support and encouragement she got throughout this major new life event.

“I felt supported and well cared for,” Diane said. “I knew that I didn’t have to worry about anything. I just let my body lead the way.”

A trusted friend

When her family moved to Sioux Falls, Diane was pleased to meet Terry Engelmann, a CNM who has been providing obstetrical and gynecological care for women since 1999. Engelmann became Diane’s regular provider for gynecological care and has gotten to know the entire family during pre-natal visits for her next two babies.

As Diane talks, Engelmann holds her three-year-old daughter Alison on her lap, reading from a picture book with bright chickens on the cover. Diane’s family sends Engelmann their Christmas cards each year with pictures of the children that she helped bring into the world.

“I love this family,” Engelmann said, giving a hug to the toddler. “I’ve adopted them.”

During Diane’s prenatal visits, she would talk with Engelmann about how she was feeling and the type of birth experience she wanted. She felt like the CNM knew her background, her family and could help her make good decisions throughout her pregnancies and labors.

Listening to patients

“My approach is to listen to what women are saying and help support their choices,” Engelmann said. “I’m there to give women support and to let them know when what they’re going through is normal and natural.”

Sanford CNMs deliver babies in a hospital setting, working with consulting doctors who have access to specialized emergency care if it is needed. A CNM will stay with a woman throughout the entire labor process, taking a “low-tech, high touch” approach toward helping a woman give birth, Engelmann said.

“I like to say that I’m just the cheerleader,” Engelmann says. “I’m here to catch the baby. The mother is the one that delivers it.”

Diane said she feels fortunate to have had enriching experiences with the birth of all three of her children. She remembers her calm wonder at the miracle of childbirth as she had her first baby and that incredible moment of surprise when she discovered that her second child was a girl.

It was important to Diane to choose a healthcare provider who understands and values the importance of those memories, she said.

“The birth of each of my children is a wonderful memory – on par with other important events, such as my wedding day. I can tell you every detail about the days I had my children,” Diane said. “We’ll always have those incredible moments.”

Posted Date: June 2011