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Special Deliveries: Midwife Care for Moms

06/23/2021

Midwife Performing Ultrasound on Pregnant Woman's BellyCertified nurse midwife Carolyn Mank performs an ultrasound on a pregnant woman's belly.

Having a baby is a highly personal experience, so it should be a personalized one as well, according to SLUCare certified nurse midwife Carolyn Mank. She helps women give birth in a low-intervention, holistic, supportive environment at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, which has a 14-bed labor and delivery unit.

As a SLUCare midwife, Mank holds advanced credentials in nursing and is specially trained to educate women about prenatal care and pregnancy health. She works closely with expectant mothers to help childbirth progress as smoothly as possible, and she cares deeply that the experience should meet a patient’s expectations.

Midwife-assisted births tend to be lower-risk pregnancies, but Mank also is certified in the care of women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. If medical complications do arise during labor or delivery, the full resources of SLUCare physicians and the hospital are immediately available, she notes. “Collaboration is the main idea behind the SLUCare midwife practice,” she says. “I work carefully with the patient and other providers to ensure all needs are met.”

Mank advises women thinking about having a baby to schedule a preconception visit and then receive regular care throughout pregnancy. “Our staff can perform well-woman exams and help you prepare your body to be pregnant,” she says. “We partner with nutritionists and other providers to discuss healthy weight, diet and activity, and we talk about pre-existing medical conditions as well. Sometimes a pregnancy may be a bit more high-risk, but we can help bring a degree of normalcy to the process so the patient feels confident. It’s my job to give her the information she needs, discuss potential risks and benefits, and empower her to make informed choices about delivery options.”

We are paving the way for women to be more involved in their own care.”

SLUCare Certified Nurse Midwife Carolyn Mank 

She adds that communication is key to the process, and SLUCare practitioners are well versed in educating the patient carefully and compassionately. “Women who have delivered elsewhere in the past sometimes tell me that decision-making processes were not clearly explained to them,” Mank says. “SLUCare practitioners want the patient to be an active participant in her own care. We know how to offer less-invasive solutions that may prevent problems down the line. We also teach women to listen to their bodies’ natural signals and help reduce the chance of complications.” To further personalize care, nurses review current cases each morning, and they are matched carefully with patients preparing to give birth.

Mank says the SLUCare midwife practice often incorporates labor-easing techniques like hydrotherapy, walking, yoga ball use, wireless monitoring and other solutions. “Depending on the patient’s situation, it may not be necessary to go straight to pain medication or an epidural,” she says. “We usually can offer options for mothers-to-be who would like a choice.”

She says women appreciate the sense of partnership and the comprehensive attention they receive from SLUCare, and patients from diverse backgrounds can feel comfortable considering a midwife-assisted birth. “We are paving the way for women to be more involved in their own care,” Mank says. “Labor and delivery are natural processes, and we can help mothers understand and embrace them.”

The SLUCare midwife practice cares for expectant mothers in a supportive, holistic environment at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital. For more information, call 314-977-7455.

This article originally appeared in Town & Style, June 23, 2021.

By: Julia M. Johnson