Trying for a natural childbirth was important to Allie Byrne, and just as important was finding a health care provider who would offer support and reassurance.
Allie says she found just that in Regional One Health’s Certified Nurse Midwives, who delivered empowering care during her pregnancy and childbirth and after her daughters were born.
Our midwifery team sees patients for pregnancy and regular well-woman care at Kirby Primary Care and Hollywood Primary Care, and Regional One Health is the only hospital in Shelby County where patients can give birth with the support of a Certified Nurse Midwife.
Allie Byrne never envisioned herself a “girl mom” – frilly dresses and cotton candy pinks had never been her style. But as you might imagine, four precious little girls have a way of changing that.
“They love all the girly stuff – dresses and bows and pink,” Allie laughed. “That’s so different from me. But it’s fun to see their personalities…and to have them wear dresses and sneakers!”
While Allie might not have predicted how fully she’d embrace life as a girl mom, she did have a defined idea of what she wanted from pregnancy and childbirth: “I wanted a natural birth, or at least to give it my best shot. If I could do it unmedicated, I wanted to do it unmedicated.”
However, when Allie and husband Patrick found out their first baby, Lila, now 7, was in the breech position, they had to change their birth plan. “We tried everything to get her to turn, but I ended up having a C-section, and when she was born she wasn’t breathing at first,” Allie said. “I was a first-time mom, and it was a scary, traumatic experience.”
She was able to have a natural birth with Addie, 5, but by the time she learned she was expecting Cora several years ago, she knew she wanted a more personalized experience. Patrick had recently started a job with the Regional One Health Foundation, and he suggested she check out the hospital’s midwifery practice.
Regional One Health is the only hospital in Memphis where women can deliver with the support of a Certified Nurse Midwife, and Allie liked having the peace-of-mind of a hospital birth while also enjoying the patient-focused approach of midwifery.
As soon as she had her first prenatal visit, she felt at home.
Instead of telling her how they planned to treat her pregnancy and birth, the nurse midwives listened to Allie. They assured her they would do everything they could to help her reach her goals while keeping her and Cora healthy.
As Meghan Madea, CNM noted, midwifery views pregnancy and birth as natural experiences – not conditions to cure. While nurse midwives can provide medication for pain relief, they also specialize in supporting women like Allie who want an unmedicated birth.
“It wasn’t, ‘This is our way; this is how you have to do it.’ They listened to my concerns and wants and desires and worked with me throughout the whole process,” Allie said. “I loved that I got to meet each of the midwives, because when I had my babies I already knew them, and they already knew me. I wouldn’t be meeting a stranger because my doctor wasn’t on call.
“That was very comforting.”
During labor, the nurse midwives helped her work through the pain. “I had asked if I could walk or sit on a yoga ball, and they said, ‘Absolutely,” Allie recalls. “It was so nice to be able to move around the room and distract myself and stay busy. It made a huge difference to feel like they were listening to what I wanted and would help make it happen for me if they could.”
When Allie learned she was expecting Naomi last year, she didn’t think twice about who would care for her and her baby. “Knowing I had such a great experience when I had Cora, not only with the midwives but everyone at the hospital, I was excited to go back!”
She’s glad she did.
While Naomi’s birth went according to plan, Allie dealt with anxiety and depression after the birth and found a wonderful resource in her midwifery team: “They are amazing listeners and extremely supportive,” she said. “They always checked up on me. It isn’t just about checking on the baby, it’s about the whole health of the patient. That meant so much to me.”
Madea said Allie’s story is why the nurse midwives focus so strongly on relationship-building: “One of the best compliments we get is return clients who come back to see us for subsequent pregnancies and routine well-woman care.”
In turn, that allows them to provide even better care, she said.
“We follow a routine plan of care at every visit, but we also take the time to ask each client what she needs from us and listen to her answer. We recognize and emphasize that every pregnancy is different and sometimes we need to address new concerns,” she said. “Anxiety and depression may develop during or after a pregnancy and are often unexpected and overlooked. The rapport midwives have with clients typically allows us to detect and address these issues early.”
These days, with “the girlies” ranging in age from 7 years to 10 months, the Byrnes stay plenty busy. “We like doing things together; going to the zoo or children’s museum,” Allie said. “Our three oldest girls like swimming and horses, or pretending they’re horses and racing around the house. Naomi is very well-loved – her sisters are constantly hugging her, and she just sits back and stares at them. Things are busy and loud!”
As she wades through the dresses and bows and all things pink, Allie is grateful for the daughters who made her a girl mom – and the nurse midwives who helped her build her family on her own terms. “I felt like I was heard, and I had some control in the situation; like they took my hand came alongside me instead of telling me what to do,” she said. “The best word I can think of to describe them is ‘empowering.” They’re wonderful – I love them!”