The University of Vermont Medical Center recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Midwifery Service, the second-oldest hospital-based midwifery program in the United States. Since the program’s start in 1968, more than 13,000 births have been managed by certified nurse-midwives, who have helped with nearly 20 percent of deliveries at the Burlington hospital.
Certified nurse-midwives assist with the maintenance of healthy pregnancies and provide education, counseling, prenatal care, hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support to mothers who opt-in for midwife care.
Marti Churchill, CNM, who is currently leading the program says that nurse-midwives are regularly sought after because studies show better outcomes associated with deliveries attended by nurse-midwives. “No pregnancy happens in a vacuum,” Churchill shared with the UVM Medical Center Newsroom. “We attend to the mother’s psychosocial and emotional health and assess how she takes care of herself, her access to healthy food, how is she treated in her workplace, her housing situation — everything that can have an impact on a positive outcome.”
The UVM Medical Center Midwifery Service was founded by Dr. John Maeck, chair of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont, in tandem with Clair Lintilhac, a retired nurse and English-trained midwife. Lintilhac went on to provide financial support of the program once it expanded in 1978; that support has continued today through the Lintilhac Foundation. The Midwifery Service has continued to grow and include research sabbaticals, a lactation clinic, and a perinatal mental health service.
The program also includes a weekly Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic, which provides mothers with high-risk or complicated pregnancies to receive care from both midwives and physicians. Kelley McLean, MD, is medical director of the Midwifery Service and knows that their patients are hardpressed to find the same kind and quality of care elsewhere for their pregnancies.