Some women are turning to midwives to help with childbirth

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- In the U.S., most child births take place in hospitals, with physicians, mainly obstetricians, taking part in the delivery. In fact, based on the latest figures from 2012, 98% of all births took place with a doctor there.

In the Valley, however, women have another option.

They can give birth with a midwife present.

At just four weeks old, Alberto is already the apple of Patricia Cavallero's eye.

"I went in at six in the morning, and he was born at three in the afternoon," said Cavallero. She delivered Alberto on Octobrt 26, at Banner Ironwood Medical Center in Queen Creek.

"It was one of the best experience I had," said Cavallero. "Very different to my girls. Very relaxing, calm."

Cavallero has two girls: eight-year-old Gabriella and five-year-old Samantha. Unlike her first two births, Cavallero did her most recent birth with the help of a midwife 

"I think that the second one, I felt even more nervous and scared because I knew what I was going to go through," said Cavallero. She said any fears and anxieties this time around were put to rest by her midwife.

"She would give me that time to talk about whatever was going on, which I didn't felt that with my other girls," said Cavallero.

"More hands on, more help at the bed side, more labor support is really fostering an environment that they can feel comfortable, that seems more homey," said Jennifer Wright-Bennion.

Wright-Bennion, a certified nurse and midwife, has one goal to make the birthing experience safe, comfortable and memorable.

"We have more choices as women than ever before," said Wright-Bennion.

Birthing tubs are placed in every room at Banner Ironwood, which provides hydrotherapy to women in labor. Birthing balls and stools aid babies in moving down the birth canal, and a 50/50 blend of Nitrous Oxide and Oxygen offer pain relief for laboring moms.

"Here in the hospital, we have the safety net of personal and equipment and intervention that we might need in a moment's notice," said Wright-Bennion.

Nurse midwives serve as primary health care providers for relatively healthy women whose births are not considered "high risk," as well as their newborns. The midwives that deliver at Banner Ironwood hold graduate degrees in their specialty, and can prescribe medication and treatments, utilize medical devices, and diagnose conditions and determine appropriate therapies.

Banner Ironwood started the midwifery program a few years ago with two midwives. Today, there are seven. Women and Infant Services Director Amy Yates said a third of all deliveries are born into the hands of a midwife, and that's not the only positive.

"We actually have been able to decrease our risk for mom, so we have been able to decrease our C-Section rate," said Yates. "At one point, we had a C-Section rate of over 30%, which we weren't proud of. Now, our overall C-Section rate of 23% percent is way below national average."

There has been a steady increase in the midwife program at Banner Ironwood Medical Center. Not just from patients, but from OB/GYN as well.

"OB/GYN providers probably thought of it more as a competition," said Wright-Bennion. "By having midwives come in, more patients would be gravitating towards their care, but now, they are looking at it as a collaboration that really the low to moderate risk can be taken care of by a nurse midwife, and they can work in collaboration if the patients increase their risk level, or if they choose to have an OB/GYN provider versus a midwife take care of them."

"I didn't decide it at the beginning, but as long as the pregnancy was progressing, I got to know a lot of the staff, a lot of the midwifes, which they were really nice," said Cavallero. Her advice is to expectant moms is to make a birth plan, but to keep an open mind, as nothing is ever as it seems. 

Since the midwife program started at Banner Ironwood, it has expanded to other Banner facilities, including Sun City West and Estrella Medical Center in Phoenix.

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