Certified nurse-midwives gain greater acceptance

May 24, 1994|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff Writer

Nancy Kroh Dowell of Severna Park remembers her frustration at feeling "anonymous" in the office of her Annapolis obstetrician when she was pregnant with her first child.

"Every time I went in there, he didn't address me by my name," says the 38-year-old mother of two. "I'm quite sure it was because he couldn't remember it."

When she complained about her treatment at work, a colleague recommended she try a midwife instead.

Now, Mrs. Dowell is among a growing number of county women choosing certified nurse-midwives to deliver their babies.

Most say they enjoy greater attention.

"I felt that nurturing atmosphere," Mrs. Dowell said, recalling her first visit to a midwife. "They treated you as if you were the only one on their roster that day. You got their full attention."

She conceded she was skeptical at first. "It sounded sort of primitive," she said. "I wanted modern technology."

But after her first appointment with certified nurse-midwife Lorraine Goldstein, she was hooked, she said. Mrs. Dowell liked the personal approach the practitioners took.

And she learned she could have technology if she wanted it.

"That's the whole philosophy behind nurse-midwifery," said Judith Parsley, director of the Bay Area Midwifery Center, the county's only nurse-midwife practice. "It's about choices."

Most women who choose nurse-midwives want to feel more involved in the treatment of their pregnancy, she explained.

Since first establishing the practice in Glen Burnie in 1986, the number of deliveries handled by the four midwives has grown from three a month to ten or more.

The midwives also have a general gynecological practice and do family planning. They have about 750 patients.

In 1989, Ms. Parsley and Ms. Goldstein moved the practice to its offices off Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard in Severna Park.

"This is an Anne Arundel County practice. We wanted to be more centrally located," said Ms. Parsley. "We draw patients from all over the county and the Eastern Shore."

The midwives leave the county to deliver, however, traveling to St. Agnes Hospital in Catonsville.

They go so far away because "there's never been a mechanism in place for midwives to get privileges at Anne Arundel Medical rTC Center," said Ms. Parsley. North Arundel Hospital in Glen Burnie doesn't have an obstetrics department.

Ms. Dowell, who has delivered two babies with Bay Area midwives -- one at Francis Scott Key Medical Center in Baltimore and one at St. Agnes -- said traveling further to deliver was a concern. But, she said, she decided her desire to use a nurse-midwife outweighed her desire to stay close by.

"I remember it was something I had to weigh," she said. "But I decided I definitely wanted a midwife."

Betty H. Schweitzer, vice president of patient care services at Anne Arundel Medical Center, said midwives can apply for privileges at the Annapolis hospital, but in the past may have chosen not to do so.

"I think there has been some resistance from our medical staff to have them here," she said, explaining why midwives may have decided to go elsewhere. "But times are changing. Attitudes are changing about so many things . . . midwives, nurse practitioners, what patients want. So things may change."

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