MultiCare midwife uses midwife in her own delivery
After three years as a nurse midwife, Jane Allen knew it was time to deliver when she heard her baby’s heart rate drop and not recover.
“I said, ‘We have to go,’” says Allen, CNM, DNP, ARNP.
Allen appreciates the irony in a midwife having her own birthing plan go awry. But she says the experience also taught her the importance of teamwork and training to ensure that even when things don’t go as planned, they can still have a happy ending.
Allen, husband Nick and baby Desmond are just getting settled into their new life as a healthy family of three.
Going through pregnancy, labor and a delivery with complications gave Allen a new perspective on what the patients she serves at MultiCare Covington Medical Center are experiencing.
“A lot of things that happen in pregnancy are completely uncomfortable,” she says. “As a midwife, I understood why those things were happening, so they weren’t scary to me. But I can really understand now. Those aches and pains can be quite scary and disconcerting if you don’t know what’s happening and why.”
When labor started, Allen says she was anxious about deciding when to go to the hospital where she planned to give birth.
“My biggest concern was going in too soon and getting sent home,” she says.
Even as an experienced midwife, she had her husband call the midwife group that was handling her care to talk over how she was feeling and whether it was time to come in.
“This really reaffirmed to me how important it is to have a direct line to your midwife group, especially during early labor,” she says.
She needn’t have worried.
“My labor progressed really quickly and once I started pushing, his heart rate just dropped and didn’t come back up,” she recalls.
But the midwife team acted fast. Allen had to be transferred to the labor and delivery floor, where baby Desmond was delivered quickly with the help of an episiotomy and vacuum. From recognizing the baby’s distress to having an IV in and the baby out was just about 10 minutes.
“My midwife, the OB and the nurses worked beautifully together,” she says. “That made me feel so much safer.”
After baby Desmond’s birth, Allen had a postpartum hemorrhage that left her anemic and weak.
“What really hit home for me, both as a patient and as a midwife, is that these are experiences people can really carry with them and find traumatizing as their birth story,” she says. “And making sure we, as a team, drill these emergencies and make sure everyone’s communication skills are on point. Because when you’re lying on your back on a stretcher those are the things you’re pulling from to know you and your baby are safe.”
Even the parts of her labor and delivery that were routine have provided Allen with new perspective. She now knows, for example, that the words she uses to describe some things are wholly inadequate.
“There isn’t a word to describe the pressure you feel when you have to push your baby out,” she says.
Allen says she empathizes even more with patients whose pregnancies and births don’t follow the script they’ve written for themselves.
But as a midwife herself, her experience confirmed that supportive midwife care can help anyone adapt to the unexpected.
“The best laid plans get tossed out,” she says. “You really can’t plan anything about postpartum and birth, and things come up.”
About The Author
Cheryl Reid-Simons is a freelance writer and serial community volunteer. In her spare time, she drives a private activities shuttle for her twin sons, healthy graduates of the Tacoma General NICU and interim care nursery. More stories by this author