Where’s My Midwife?

Our choices of care providers in Wilmington, NC have become even more limited.

I received a called today from a student who began the echo, “Where’s my midwife?” She was phoned by a nurse who needed to reschedule her midwife’s appoint to that of an obstetrician. “Where’s my midwife?”, she asked confused. She was told that Carolina Ob/Gyn was dismantling their midwifery program. She called to ask if I knew what had happened. I made a call to the nurse at Carolina Ob/Gyn who had contacted me to teach their Natural Childbirth Class series on Thursday nights. Upset, mad and shocked is how everyone seemed to feel. I was told that Suzanne was no longer with the practice and Pamela was being phased into just office appointments. Being that Carolina Ob/Gyn is owned and managed by obstetricians, the majority of them decided it was not in their best interest to have midwives at their practice, especially not support midwives catching babies!

Where are we left as a community of birthing families with only one midwife, Mary McBride, CNM at Coastal AHEC and Women’s Health Specialties South with rights to attend to women in labor at New Hanover Regional Medical Center? There is little choice but to band together as a community until our echo becomes too loud to be ignored. Those of us whose lives have been enhanced by the nurturing care provided by our midwives must speak out now. Scream out, “Where’s my midwife?” Post it in writing on your car, your Facebook, your sidewalk with chalk, where ever families will see it and ask what you mean. Then tell them about the importance of personalized midwifery care. Let’s not let them take our midwives from us!

Is this a product of a poor economy, bad laws, ignorance about the true nature of birth …. what are their reasons? We deserve an answer!

Suggestions on who to contact will be sent soon in our newsletter and posted on this blog. Your comments are encouraged!

36 Comments »

  1. Gaby Merediz said

    Right on. I am beyond disappointed and shocked at our town’s lack of support for midwifery. I was going to write a letter to the Star News, and suggest they write a story about this, but I wanted more information. Does anyone know what the c-section and induction rates are at New Hanover? I know they are pretty high, and how can we expect to lower the cost of healthcare, improve the quality of care for pregnant women, and ensure the health of our babies when we don’t have access to the type of care that we want?

    • youaremysunshineblog said

      I posted a question on NHRMC website under the contact form and got the following reply:

      Message : Who can I call or where can I find statistics on the rate of induction and cesarean as it relates to total births at New Hanover Regional Medical Center?

      “Thank you for your inquiry. We do not currently release information on birth rates by cesarean; however, detailed information by county is available from the state office of vital statistics. Please feel free to contact them for further information.” – NHRMC

      This website list vital statistics.
      http://www.schs.state.nc.us/SCHS/vitalstats/volume1/2007/newhanover.html
      The C-section rate is listed as 27.5 White and 31.1 Minority in 2007 for New Hanover County. There is no rate of induction at this site.

  2. Megan said

    I got a call too. They asked if I wanted to reschedule with Dr. “whoever”. I declined and said they lost a patient because of it and I’m sure that they’d lose more. It’s just horrible. I feel sad for the women who are currently pregnant and now are stuck with someone who’s going to be short at appointments and pop their head into the room when the baby is crowning…. I agree with Gaby, there should definitely be something written in the newspaper about it. I’m not sure about the delivery stats but it shouldn’t be difficult to find out.

  3. Kristen said

    I am so upset. My little boy is due in 8 weeks and I don’t have a clue who is going to deliver him. I have put a call into Mary McBride and to some other practices because I can not stand the thought of going back into Carolina on principle alone. I am having a difficult time getting someone to take me on since I am so close to delivering. From what I hear, other practices are being inundated with people like me.

  4. Taylor said

    this is so disappointing.

  5. Marianne said

    Ladies, keep asking “why”. Because I’m not sure I understand “why”. I just know that my heart is broken and it is like my third child has died.
    Bless all of you who recognize the value of midwifery care!

    blessings, Marianne Woessner CNM
    now in High Point, NC, with a doctor who LOVES midwives!

    • Heather Millen said

      Marianne,
      I am so glad you have found a good “home” and can continue practicing midwifery! You are loved and missed greatly!
      xoxo
      Heather Millen

    • Jamie Joyner said

      Marianne I am so glad that you found a good home! We miss you!
      There are some lucky mommy’s to be in High Point!!!

      Jamie

    • Amy said

      I miss you so much. This is crazy! I am so mad! Cohen is 19mnths… Time goes by so fast. We are ready for another one. We just do not want to do this with Doctors. How far is high point? lol

      Amy

  6. Tamika Rice said

    I am so upset by this especially since I just wrote a letter exclaiming the great care I received from all the midwives. Of course I want my baby to be delivered by my midwives, but I am more concerned about their well-being. I just don’t understand this.

  7. Nina said

    I’m sorry to hear that, but glad there are people like you who speak out!!

  8. Jenny said

    My heart is broken – Pamela at Carolina just delivered our beautiful little boy two weeks ago and made what could have been a very medical, impersonal process something peaceful and incredible. I moved to Carolina from Glenmeade specifically for the midwife program and am now at a loss as to where to go from here. As patients (ie. CUSTOMERS) of Carolina OB/GYN, we deserved to be notified in advance of the termination of the program and certainly have a right to know why our options have been taken away. I agree with Gaby, the Star News should DEFINITELY be alerted to this, as well as the local TV stations – women in this town should have better options!

  9. Janene said

    It saddens me to hear this…I found out a couple days ago, and even spoke with Pam about it. The suddenness and lack of reasons for the decision seems so unprofessional. I have been a patient of Carolina OBGYN since I was 18–I had seen Dr. McKain for my routine exams, and she suggested I see a midwife when it came time to have a family, and we did just that. I have an 8 month old baby girl named Hailey. I love the midwifery program because they take care of healthy women with normal pregnancies. They give such individualized care, take the time to get to know you, and make you feel important. I love that they spend so much time with you, and support your birth plan, even as non-conventional as it may be. Suzanne made us feel at ease each time we saw her. Being the most experienced midwife in the office, we were comfortable to be in here care. Marianne was the first one we met, and how nice she was!! I felt confident that I would be safe if she were the one to deliver our baby. We first met Pam when she was on orientation with Marianne, and loved her from the start. Pam made the decision to induce me after a non-reassuring non-stress test. Twelve days after our due date, Hailey finally decided to come into the world, with the help of Pitocin. I truly beleive that being induced was the safest decision at the time, and although we weren’t able to follow our birth plan 100%, Pam made our birthing experience wonderful. I had a 17 hour natural labor and she didn’t leave my side the entire time. When Hailey got into trouble she remained calm, and proceeded with the necessary interventions to keep both the baby and I safe. Her professionalism, confidence, and calmness allowed me to deliver a perfectly healthy baby girl, without tearing or the intervention of an MD. I continued to see both Pam and Suzanne for my postpartum visits, and then for my routine pap exam a few months later. I had the most wonderful experience with the midwives and am at a crossroads. When it is time to have another child (in the not so distant future), I want to be under the care of a midwife again, and now I am not sure that that can happen as long as I am living in Wilmington. I agree that there needs to be public awareness via newspaper and television, but only after the facts are gathered. ANY OBGYN practice would benefit from the midwifery service. I truly hope that Suzanne is able to continue practicing as a midwife in some way. These two women are AMAZING at what they do…they delivered 6 babies in 28 hours just recently!! I feel like I have gained three new friends and colleagues (I am an RN in the ICU at New Hanover), and they have my support 110%. These women went to school to deliver babies, they do it well, and that is what they should be allowed to do!

  10. Andy said

    I’m the Assignment manager at WWAY and we are working on a story about this. Anyone want to talk to the News about this? Please call me at 910-763-0979.

    Thanks,

    Andy

  11. Holly Claire said

    I am saddened to hear there will not be widwives avaliable at Carolina OBGYN. I had my daughter there in 06 with Marianne Woessner and Laura Schultz who were both practicing midwives there. I had a WONDERFUL experience with these ladies and the clinic. Both have since left and I now understand why. With the new womens center at the hospital there should also be informed birth choices avaliable.

  12. Katherine said

    I am due in one month and am just LIVID over this!! The ONLY reason I went with Carolina/Wilmington Health Associates was because of the midwife services and Suzanne! She was there for the delivery of my first child two years ago and I’ve primarily seen her this entire pregnancy. The WORST part is that I still have not received a phone call or letter! I know that Pam is still there for the next two months but I cannot and will not give WHA one more dime of my money!! It is just completely unethical that they have taken away my right to choose the person I wanted to deliver my baby!

  13. Celey said

    As a Doula, my heart is aching for these midwives and their patients! It is sad to know that medical professionals are more concerned about themselves, money and power instead of doing their job for the well being of others! What other word to describe it but, selfishness! Suzanne and Pamela do what they do because they love it and love the women that are giving birth. I am in shock of what is happening and very concerned for the families that have lost their midwives!

  14. Amy said

    I cannot believe this! I am in Shock! I love Suzanne and feel that she is a part of my family. She talks to me… I’m not just a number. What are we going to do when we have another baby? I am so sorry this has happened to them. I use Wilmington Heath Associates for every thing, Cardiology, MD, and OBGYN. I am really thinking about moving on. Why should I support a company that does not have my best interest at heart? How could they do this to women that are due and have planned their whole pregnancy with the midwives? Dirty…My husband is very sad and upset too. He trusted the midwives taking care of me. I fear my next pregancy will be crazy. How can I know and trust a doctor when I am being rotated between so many? Birth is a gift not a procedure.

  15. Mickie said

    Ladies …I applaud your support of the midwives.. My daughter recently delivered a beautiful baby girl with Suzanne’s help. Suzanne gave my daughter the best care possible and help make my granddaughter’s arrival very special.
    Three of my children were delivered by the same midwife. It is such a different experience when you are in the care of a midwife…so much better than the births I had under a doctor’s care. Both doctors I had were all about how fast they could deliver the babies..and not about the birth experience.
    Please continue to express your outrage and disappointment over the midwives being ousted. Make your displeasure known..write letters ..make calls and don’t give up. I hope and pray that Carolina OBGYN …will be saying “O crap we have made a lot of pregnant women mad and that is not good.” Do not keep silent…take up the cry WHERE IS MY MIDWIFE??
    Anybody ready to picket….I am!!!!

  16. Laura Schultz said

    I am so sorry that this has happened to you amazing women. For a very long time, I have understood that women who chose midwifery are particularly smart, courageous and well informed. You are not the ones who just take what is offered without question. Caring for women like you is what has made my job so satisfying for many years. You have the strength and eloquence to be the voice in this community. YOU disappointed and vocal women will shape the market forces to bring back midwifery to whomever wants this option. As high a quality service that Mary McBride provides, she cannot be there for everyone. I applaud your consumer efforts to get what you want and need for your families. Midwifery will be a widespread option to the women here in Wilmington again, I know it. For those who are facing their impending birth without the midwives they have come to know and trust, I cannot imagine your disappointment and I am so sorry about it. My birth is so recent and I would have been devastated by this same news about my own midwife. All I can offer is to encourage you to remember that these difficult times are THE opportunities for change.
    Sincerely and lovingly,
    Laura Schultz

  17. Marianne said

    I agree with everything Laura has said. She was the pioneer at Carolina and I came as her partner in 2005.

    You are all such strong women! I admire your spirit and I hope you continue to register your dissatisfaction with the decisions made.

    Anyone who can come to High Point is more than welcome!!! I work with a great doctor who realizes how wonderful midwives are!!!!

    Blessings, Marianne xoxo

  18. Elena P. said

    I am stunned by this news, which I heard on TV today. Pamela delivered my beautiful daughter, Norah, just 3 months ago. I would not have wanted it any other way. We have to rise up and protest this travesty!! Wilmington needs midwives – wonderful midwives like Pamela and Suzanne.

  19. Sarah said

    I can’t believe this! I’m pregnant for the first time and have only seen Suzanne. What do I do now? I’m kind of afraid and at a loss. I love Suzanne. I will see Pam for the first time today, and then what? This is terrible!

    Sarah

  20. Wendy said

    I’m extremely disappointed with this news. Myself along with several of my friends are patients of Suzanne and Pamela. We saw both of them throughout our pregnancy and then we were induced at 41 weeks because my fluid was low and I could not dialate due to scar tissue buildup. Pam and Suzzane were in the hospital with us for 6 days!! Through their support and encouragement we went 36 hours on Pit before we had an epidural and then went another 12 hours of labor before Suzzane delivered our perfect little girl, Jordan. We were spared unessecary interventions and felt confident while enjoying a wonderful birthing experience. I will go wherever Pam and Suzzane end up going for sure. My prayers are with you ladies and your wonderful husbands who have been such a support to you.

  21. Sylvia said

    I can only echo what has already been stated here. Women want the midwifery model of care for birth and beyond. I have been a patient of both Mary McBride and the midwives at Carolina Ob-gyn for my obstetrical care as well as for my well woman care. I couldn’t imagine being taken care of by anyone other than by a midwife. Mary McBride will simply be inundated if we don’t have more options like Laura has pointed out. As a doula I have also seen the midwives act in such a confident, yet compassionate, and honest way with women and their families. They give of their time generously and patiently. They try to honor their families’ wishes and provide beautiful birth experiences for parents and for babies, even when uforeseen circumstances occur. I have seen the midwives act with warmth, flexibility, and candor. This speaks to broader issues as well– the condition of midwives in our state reflects the health care crisis that we’re experiencing throughout our nation. We have to speak with our voices (to the media, to our legislators), speak with our pocket books, and let our community know that we won’t rest until we keep our midwives here and until we have more midwives available to us. The midwifery model of care is a SAFE and AFFORDABLE option of care to which we should all have access.

  22. Brooke said

    This news is so horrible. I get emotional just thinking about how amazing my birth experience was just 7 months ago thanks to Pamela (with emotional support from Suzanne, too). She gave me the birth experience I’d always dreamed of. I have been debating on whether or not to have baby # 3, but I can tell you right now, if I don’t have a midwife to guide me thru my pregnancy and birth, I will NOT be having any more babies! (The midwives at Women’s Health Specialties South don’t accept my insurance). Something needs to be done… Suzanne and Pamela deserve to have the love and support they have ALWAYS given their patients.

  23. Mari said

    I am shocked and a little outraged to hear this news. I feel lucky to have had awesome birth experiences with both my children– with Pamela back in March and with a CNM in CO a few years ago… I cannot begin to imagine the emotions these moms-to-be must be feeling finding out this news. I hope they each are able to find exactly what they need. What I want to know is, what is the next step? The article in the paper this morning mentioned a bill in NC legislature “to study whether certified nurse midwives should have more flexibility to practice in collaboration with doctors rather than under their supervision…” Does anyone know anything about this? It probably wouldn’t do anything to help pregnant women today, but maybe it will help change the system moving into the future to prevent this kind of thing from happening again…

  24. Allyson Battle said

    I will follow Suzanne wherever she goes!! I had an amazing pregnancy & birth experience with the midwives as Carolina (Suzanne, Marinne, & Laura)! I couldn’t have had the natural birth experience I wanted without them. I had to be induced due to high blood pressure & I trusted Suzanne with the decision to induce. I wanted to avoid all medical interventions, but felt totally confident that Suzanne had my best interest at heart: the health of my baby & myself! I continue to see her for my gynecological appointments & feel so comfortable with her. I even look forward to these appointments! I hope that she will deliver all of my babies! I feel that greed is the purpose of the decision to dissolve the midwife program, but we don’t want traditional OB/GYN care….WE WANT OUR MIDWIVES!!!

  25. Melissa said

    I felt compelled to send a note out to all the expecting mothers who have been affected by the decision made by Carolina OBGYN to disband the midwifery program. I have two children and had two very different births with each of them. The first was with a doctor, and the second with a midwife from Carolina. After my second birth, I “fell in love” with midwives and birth and know I’d never want give birth any other way than with a midwife. Upon hearing the news of this recent decision, my first thoughts went to “well what am I going to do if I have another baby?” More importantly though, my thinking shifted to all the expectant mothers out there who have been confused and left with what seems like little hope for the birth they were anticipating. I know this has to be devastating. As I was pondering all this today, I feel like I have some words of hope I’d like to cast out to you.

    First of all, you are the mother. This is your birth. That is your body and your baby. Midwife or doctor, that reality doesn’t change. I have a lot of respect for doctors, and there are some amazing OB’s out there. I do prefer midwives when it comes to birth, because I believe in the mentality that they carry. And it permeates every bit of their practice. But. If you have to be seen and delivered by a doctor, just remember that they are really only there for the actual delivery. The most important thing is to have a strong network of support – be it husband, mother, sister, friend, doula, etc. Ask for a nurse that prefers to work with natural deliveries. Stay away from the hospital for as long as you can during labor. And if your budget affords, hire a doula. Doulas are amazing and really can act as a liaison between you and the providers.

    Please copy and paste this into your notes, emails, etc., and send it out to all the women you know. Let’s not feel defeated by this in any way, shape, or form. Every mother can testify to this: birth is a divine miracle, but it is so messy and definitely never goes exactly the way we expect that it will. Hold onto the hope and power that has been instilled in you for the period of time you have been served by your midwife.

    Blessings for a great birth,

    Melissa Capps

  26. Caron Jones, Chapter Chairman for NC American College of Nurse Midwives said

    The entire chapter of NC is saddened with the closure of another midwifery service in our state. Women need choices and want input. A midwife listens to her patients and encourages options and control over a woman’s body. Statistics prove that Certified Nurse Midwives have lower C-section rates and get more babies out vaginally promoting natural processes.

    Suzanne will be missed and in the interim, know that many are in support of access to midwifery care in your area. Women deserve options and control over their bodies.

  27. Elena P. said

    I called Carolina OB-GYN and found out whom to address letters to, and where to send them:

    Jeff James, CEO
    Wilmington Health Associates
    1202 Medical Center Drive
    Wilmington, NC 28403

    You better believe my letter’s going to be in the mail soon! 🙂 I hope they get deluged with letters of complaint for the ending of the midwifery program.

  28. Sylvia said

    I wanted to add the following: (from my response to the Star News article): “The dismissal of one Certified Nurse Midwife, and the imminent departure of a second at Carolina OB-Gyn is a travesty for women and their families in Wilmington. Wilmington needs more midwives, not fewer. The unfortunate requirement that New hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) puts on ob groups to be present on the maternity floor while midwife patients are delivering puts an undue burden on the physicians, and ultimately makes it more difficult for these practices to keep CNMs on staff. With the residents and attendings who are always present at the NHRMC, “supervision” is always available. The hospital should lift this requirement and make it more feasible to keep CNMs practicing in Wilmington.” (Russ Fawcett of NCFOM has written a powerful letter to the “powers that be” underscoring this goal: lifting this requirement at NHRMC.)

  29. Brenda said

    Sylvia, kudos to you for presenting this excerpt that sheds a little more light (possibly) on the vague “operational requirements” referenced in Carolina OB-GYN’s public statement regarding the rationale for the shut down. It does sound like a costly and taxing demand on the practices. And it does support a rationale for leveling action at the root of the issue.

    However, I am due in less than two weeks and having been at close range in the handling of this decision, I am still stunned to the point of near paralysis regarding the poor communications and lack of viable transition plan on the part of Carolina OB-GYN. Had it been made clear that there were policy (or other) actionable decisions that required concern or response on my part to PREVENT this sudden disruption of service, I would have been fully engaged and supportive.

    Right now, I – and other mothers like me – stand at a bleak and daunting immediate crossroad. I will divide my attention to include the larger perspective policy issue, but I can not simply overlook the handling of this business and human decision and its devastating effect as excuses emerge. There HAD to have been a way to handle this that did not leave us “stranded” in this way without the option of the care we specifically sought when it matters most.

    I came to Carolina OB-GYN specifically for the midwifery program. I was VERY happy to find them and would not have chosen Carolina OB-GYN otherwise due to a previous experience. I felt secure, cared for and confident that I would be supported through birth and beyond with my choice. And now I feel disappointed and anxious. My trust has been breached – not by a policy – but by people who failed to fully consider the needs and motivations of their patients and act in their best interest.

    I do want to take a moment to highlight and thank those Docs who were in the minority and boldly stood in support of midwives – the ones that made it possible for many of you to have the choice you did in midwifery care. And I will support policy-focused action.

    However, I think it’s wrong to make this an either/or proposition that diverts attention completely from the horrendously poor handling of the shut down.

  30. Sylvia said

    No doubt, Brenda. I can’t even remotely imagine being at this point in your pregnancy and facing this unwarranted and sudden decision. It’s a breach of confidence –a breach in contract, given that you HIRED this practice because of a particular service they provided: midwives, and now, they are saying that they won’t provide that service anymore. The human consequences are many: a smart, beautiful, and talented woman lost her job, another is threatened with the loss of her’s. No one planned out any kind of meaningful nor real transition, nor any kind of real or meaningful communication to all of the patients. These are women and families that are now left with a quandry and lots of real decisions to make. Carmen offered up a lot of ideas, but I know it’s just not fair to even have to THINK about this.

  31. Rachel Swain Ward said

    Thank you to everyone who has been so diligently working thus far standing up and ensuring our voices are heard. In 2007-2008 Suzanne and Marianne provided superb care in the pregnancy and birth of my first child. I did not choose 4 closer hospitals and drove over an hour from Sunset Beach just to receive midwifery care during my pregnancy- and it was soooo worth it. “I would rather lose the battle while taking a principled stand than win the battle while bending the truth.” anon. The truth is midwifery care is a crucial, viable option for the birth of our children.

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