The three-year-old practice offers a unique, popular model of care.
By Lauren Ingeno
Typically, patients at the George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates (MFA) Midwifery Services aren’t allowed any sweets. But during a special occasion on Friday afternoon, expectant mothers got to break the "no refined sugar” rule.
Surrounded by pink and light blue balloons, dozens of smiling women—many of them rocking infants in their arms—gathered outside of the GW MFA building to eat cupcakes and celebrate a milestone: the birth of the 1000th GW midwifery baby.
The timing of the event may have been slightly miscalculated. The GW midwives have delivered 998 babies to date. But there was still plenty to be excited about—998 is a significant number for a service that celebrated its third year just this past summer.
As word spreads about its unique, holistic model of care, the GW midwifery practice continues to grow at a rapid pace.
When the Midwifery Services opened at MFA in June 2010, there was only one midwife on site. That number grew to two, then four, then six. Now there are eight.
“And we still can’t meet the demand,” Director of Midwifery Services Whitney Pinger said. “We’re delivering 60 per month.”
The GW practice is unique because of its model of collaborative care. Midwives work with obstetricians as well as labor and delivery nurses to ensure their patients have healthy, natural births. While the majority of GW’s Midwifery Services patients deliver vaginally, the midwives are able to call on GW Hospital services when intervention is required.
Ms. Pinger said her approach is simple: Give the mothers what they want.
“We are the servants of the women. We use evidence-based strategies and very innovative approaches to labor,” she said. “We keep our women healthy and strong and empowered, and that’s what they want.”
The hugs, cheers and laughter at Friday’s celebration seemed to be a true testament to the practice’s success.
“I think it’s about so much more than the actual the day of delivery. [Ms. Pinger] just really makes the whole family feel really empowered during the whole process,” said Rachel Nuzum, who delivered her first child with Ms. Pinger at the Washington Hospital Center and her second with the GW Midwifery Services.
Her experience was so positive, in fact, that she referred eight of her friends to the GW practice.
Ms. Nuzum admitted that midwifery may not be for everyone. GW midwifery patients must be in excellent health. Women are required to exercise regularly and follow a strict diet.
But for Ms. Nuzum, the benefits far outweighed any drawbacks. She said the midwives at GW create a sense of community and build a special relationship with each of their patients.
“We’ll have a relationship with Whitney forever,” she said.
At Friday’s event, Tina Johnson from the American College of Nurse-Midwives said her organization looks to the GW Midwifery Services as an ideal model.
“It really is the way of the future, and hopefully one day every community will be as lucky as D.C.,” she said.