Leading by sharing

As midwifery care for well-woman and prenatal care gains popularity across North Carolina, UNC Midwives' 19 years of excellence and expertise provides an opportunity to lead other practices as they incorporate midwifery care into their programs

Kathy Higgins, MSN, CNM, and division chief for UNC Midwives, consulted with Rex Healthcare as one of the hospital's partnering practices added a midwife to their delivery team, making it Rex's first midwife to deliver there in a decade.

Higgins visited the hospital in March 2018 to familiarize staff with midwifery care and update them on the quality outcomes of midwife-attended deliveries.

"Women are seeking out the type of care that midwifery specializes in for both obstetrical and gynecological care, so we are seeing more practices hiring midwives because of the proven outcomes and improved satisfaction rates," said Higgins. "We wanted to help orient the physicians, nurses and other practitioners to not only the state regulations for midwives, but also the philosophy of care and the practice protocols midwives follow."

Research shows that practices that have both obstetricians and midwives improve outcomes for women and babies with a reduction in cesarean rates, improved breastfeeding rates, reduction in preterm births and low birth weight babies, as well as reduction in healthcare costs and higher satisfaction rates. Higgins said they have seen at UNC how this environment enhances personalized care for women and newborns and improves patient satisfaction while maintaining high quality.

"Because of the longevity of our practice, we have a deep familiarization with the nuts-and-bolts of midwifery care, and we have seen the positive impact of a midwifery team on the collaborative culture of a labor and delivery unit," she said. "We can reassure other practices of the improved outcomes for women and babies in practice that combines obstetrical and midwifery care and point to the wealth of data available on those outcomes."

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