Learn From a Local Expert About Midwifery: Emily Beaman, CNM, DNP

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 Experienced Certified Nurse Midwives Emily Beaman, Mara Evans, and Kimberly Bertram make up the new Midwifery Practice at SSM St. Mary's Hospital and SSM Health Fish Hatchery location.

Experienced Certified Nurse Midwives Emily Beaman, Mara Evans, and Kimberly Bertram make up the new Midwifery Practice at SSM St. Mary's Hospital and SSM Health Fish Hatchery location.

"Certified Nurse Midwives approach birth with a “high-touch, low-tech” philosophy – we know the value of skilled labor support and avoid routine intervention.  We are with our women throughout their labor, supporting them as desired and working closely with partners, doulas, and other labor support persons."- Emily Beaman

I could NOT be more excited to feature amazing Madison midwife Emily Beaman on my blog today!  This Q&A comes at such an exciting time as SSM Dean Health announced earlier this week that there is now another option for care in Madison with their brand NEW midwifery practice- including experienced Certified Nurse Midwives Emily Beaman, Mara Evans, and Kimberly Bertram.  Read on to hear from Emily about this exciting new option for full-scope midwifery care, as well as what clinic and hospital based midwifery care entails.

Can you tell me a little about the exciting new midwifery care option at St. Mary’s?

We are thrilled that SSM Dean Health has added Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) to their list of women’s health care providers.  We are a small practice of three – Mara Evans, Kimberly Bertram, and me, Emily Beaman. All three of us are experienced midwives who have worked in a variety of clinic/hospital-based settings, and we are so excited to be building this new practice together.  We provide full-scope midwifery care, which includes general women’s health care: check-ups, annual exams, PAP tests, STI testing, lab screenings, birth control (including IUD and Nexplanon), etc. as well as care during pregnancy, birth, and in the postpartum period.  We see women in clinic at the SSM Dean Health Fish Hatchery location and attend births at SSM St. Mary’s Madison.

As a small practice, we have to opportunity to really get to know our women and their families.  We use a shared-practice model, which means that we consider all of the women who choose to see us for their care as “our” patients. Women can schedule with whomever they’d like, but have the added benefit of being able to see each of us multiple times throughout a pregnancy, and thus will have an established relationship with the midwife who is there for the birth.  We share call and cover St. Mary’s 24/7 – whichever midwife is on call when you are in labor will be with you at St. Mary’s and attend your delivery.

All of our CNMs and our clinic nurse, Kate, are CLCs (Certified Lactation Counselors) and have appointments available for breastfeeding concerns in the postpartum period.  Any lactating mama is welcome to schedule with us, she does not have to be a previous CNM patient.

Why might an expecting person or couple choose a midwife to attend their birth in the hospital setting, rather than a family practice doctor or OB?

As midwives, we view pregnancy and birth as normal life experiences.  We are considered “experts in normal”, and thus are skilled at recognizing when a woman’s symptoms deviate from what is expected with pregnancy and birth.  We partner with women and families and work together to ensure our women feel prepared, knowledgeable, and empowered to make decisions that are right for them and their families.  

Certified Nurse Midwives approach birth with a “high-touch, low-tech” philosophy – we know the value of skilled labor support and avoid routine intervention.  We are with our women throughout their labor, supporting them as desired and working closely with partners, doulas, and other labor support persons. With a midwife delivery, there is often a smaller “crowd”, which many women appreciate – in most cases, your midwife and nurse are the only people in the room with you and your support person(s) during your labor and birth.  

Most women are candidates for midwifery care.  Our practice offers TOLAC/VBAC (Trial of Labor After Cesarean/Vaginal Birth After Cesarean).  Some women may have a high-risk pregnancy that makes OB or MFM (maternal-fetal medicine) care more appropriate for them, but this is uncommon.  We manage most complications of pregnancy and birth, and are quick to consult with our wonderful OB partners if anything falls outside of the scope of midwifery care.  Our practice does not offer care for multiple gestation at this time.

What could an expecting person/couple expect of their prenatal care appointments with a midwife?

We tailor each woman’s care to her individual needs and preferences.  Each woman who comes to see us can expect to be listened to, respected, and heard.  We practice evidence-based care, educate women and families on recommendations, and help them prepare for what’s to come.  

We follow the standard prenatal care schedule in most cases, seeing women monthly in the first and second trimesters, then bi-weekly and weekly in the third trimester.  We offer all of the standard prenatal testing and genetic screenings and ultrasounds at the appropriate gestational age.

Each visit in the second and third trimesters will include a fundal-height assessment (measuring from the pubic bone to the top of the uterus) to help track baby’s growth, and a listen to baby’s heart rate with a Doppler or fetoscope.   

Do you have any particular books or resources you recommend to expecting families?

I don’t have any specific recommendations – there is a lot of good stuff out there.  I think it really depends on learning style, previous knowledge, and what information is important to each individual.  Some women like to know a lot about the ins-and-outs of pregnancy and birth physiology, some want to know about common symptoms and comfort measures, others like to focus on birth preparation, etc.

For women who are hoping for an unmedicated birth, finding a way to prepare can be very helpful.  This can be different for each woman, too; utilizing some sort of technique to disassociate from the pain of labor can help a lot with coping and keeping anxiety at bay.  This practice can come in many different forms: meditation, hypno-practices, music, guided imagery, dancing, yoga, chanting – so many possibilities.

And, of course, the value of continuous labor support – having the skilled support of a doula, knowledgeable partner, midwife, nurse, and/or other labor support person is incredibly helpful.  There are also great resources available to help prepare support persons for this role – one popular option is Penny Simkin’s The Birth Partner.

What is your best overall piece of advice for those going into their first birth experience?

It can be helpful to have some idea of what to expect, though it is difficult to predict how things will go.  Every woman and every labor is different, and having an idea about what may come up, or what may be offered can be helpful, in order to have a basic understanding of the process ahead of time.  For some women (and/or their partners), “letting go” and allowing the process to happen can be difficult, so it’s not a bad idea to practice coping techniques ahead of time.

We provide our women with a “birth preferences” document which they may use as desired to allow us to become familiar with their personal wishes.  We talk about labor preparation and coping techniques during our appointments. Pregnancy and birthing classes can be very helpful for both pregnancy and birth preparation.  

The SSM Dean Medical Group Midwives are now taking appointments and look forward to serving the health care needs of Madison-area women!!

Please call 608.294.6246 to book an appointment.  

Thank you for reading!

Thank you so much Emily for taking the time to participate in this Q&A!  I couldn't be more thrilled that more families now have access to top notch midwifery care, and I hope this post has been helpful to those who are learning about their options.  For more info about this care option, visit the SSM Health Midwifery Care page here, and take a look at their birth preferences form here.

Written by Angie Traska of Align Doula Services, providing intuitive, attentive doula support that aligns with you.  Serving Madison, WI and the surrounding areas.  Looking for doula support or lactation counseling in Madison?  Contact me here.