In the midst of a pandemic, Ella Johnson delivered her daughter with guidance and reassurance from an LVHN midwife
BY KRISTEN CHANLEY
In April 2020, Ella Johnson arrived at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Cedar Crest in “rip-roaring” labor. Though she had been through childbirth once before, this time she didn’t know what to expect because she was delivering during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her husband couldn’t be by her side. Everyone would be masked during the delivery. There would be no visitors to meet her newborn baby. Johnson anticipated the whole experience to be lonely.
Instead, Johnson, a resident of Jim Thorpe, found the birth of her daughter to be incredibly intimate. She credits that feeling to the Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) midwife she met that night.
Hope and reassuring support
Christina Felten, CNM, MSN, was the midwife on-call when Johnson arrived at LVH–Cedar Crest. Johnson’s labor was progressing quickly, and she was alone.
“We locked eyes, and I met her gaze with hope and reassurance,” Felten says. “I told her I wasn’t going to leave her, and that she wasn’t going to be alone. Which is exactly what I did.”
Johnson, who had an epidural with her first child, didn’t have time for pain medication. She began delivery within a half hour of her arrival at the hospital.
“Christine helped position me to best deliver the baby,” Johnson says. “She wasn’t controlling but offered the support and help I needed. Her energy and approach throughout the entire delivery was calming but empowering. I have never felt so safe, protected, taken care of and secure.”
What exactly is midwifery?
Nurse-midwives are medical practitioners educated and trained to care for women during prenatal care, labor and postpartum care. Certified nurse-midwives perform low-risk vaginal deliveries and work alongside obstetricians during vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). In addition to their medical training, midwives offer a supportive, low-intervention approach to pregnancy and childbirth.
“Midwives are a bridge between holistic care and medicine,” Felten says. “We take into account the whole picture, tailoring the delivery and the support we provide to the patient and her partner.”
While common myths suggest that midwives only deliver babies naturally in a home or birthing center, most work in hospitals, offering women the best of both worlds.
“I love practicing in a hospital,” Felten says. “I can support women the way I know how, but I collaborate with obstetricians who handle any complicated or higher risk situations.”
Midwives at LVHN work in a team alongside obstetricians and gynecologists (OB-GYNs). They see patients in the office and also serve on-call at the hospital. Every midwife at LVHN is a certified nurse-midwife (CNM). Each has an advanced nursing degree, and many continue to earn doctorate degrees to keep up with evidence-based learning.
“We work in concert with OB-GYNs,” says Felten. “For women who desire more hands-on care, the beauty of LVHN is that we have midwives, anesthesiologists and doctors available to you at all times.”
Welcoming her new baby
For Johnson, those options made all the difference as she delivered her daughter, Rory Jade, in April. Even though Johnson and her entire care team wore face masks, her birth was still special. She especially loved delivering her child through a midwife, knowing that emergency care was there if she needed it.
“I didn’t know that hospitals and midwifery could coexist,” Johnson says. “I always assumed that a woman had to choose either a doctor and a hospital delivery or a midwife and delivery at home. It’s exciting to know that at LVHN, I don’t have to choose.”
Learn more about midwife care at LVHN
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. At LVHN, we have many nurses and midwives to celebrate. To learn more about the midwifery services we offer, visit LVHN.org/midwife. If you are hoping to begin a family or are pregnant, request an appointment with LVPG Obstetrics and Gynecology by visiting LVHN.org/OBappointment.