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Midwife support provides comfort and care for new parents

IU Health University Hospital

Midwife support provides comfort and care for new parents

It was a perfect fit for their prenatal plan. This nurse and doctor are invested in IU Health midwives.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealthorg

She sat in a waiting room at IU Health Coleman Center for Women. As she waited for her appointment, Rachael Wolverton soaked in the black and white ultrasound images of her baby. Like most expectant mothers, she was filled with anticipation and eager to know every little thing she could about her pregnancy.

A native of upstate New York, Wolverton obtained her nursing degree in New York, and moved to Hawaii for six years. She practiced nursing at Kaiser. During her stay in Hawaii she met her husband, Jay. A graduate of Pike High School, Jay Wolverton obtained his undergraduate degree at IU Bloomington and then attended NYU Grossman School of Medicine. Following in the footsteps of his father, Stephen Wolverton, Jay pursued dermatology and completed his residency at IU. He was in Hawaii for a one-year travel dermatology job after residency and that’s where he met Rachael. Jay has been with IU Health for three years. Rachael has also been with IU Health for three years working as a nursing student advisor for Physicians Cardiology.

The couple exchanged vows on Sept. 3, 2021, on a small property along Eagle Creek reservoir. Afterward, they celebrated with family and friends near their first Indianapolis home along downtown’s Mass Avenue.

When Rachael became pregnant, the Wolvertons considered different care options that best met their needs. While living in Hawaii, Rachael became a certified holistic health coach and has continued to pursue her interest.

“I remember seeing a story about the IU Health midwifery program and immediately established care with them knowing that someday I would want to work with them when we became pregnant. I appreciate their holistic approach to pregnancy; they treat pregnancy as a natural, sacred process rather than a medical procedure. They are able to spend more time with you at visits and their primary focus is what matters most to you as the mother,” said Rachael.

The location at the Coleman Center for Women at University Hospital is also convenient for their appointments. On a recent 20-week visit, Jay showed up in scrubs – coming straight from his office. In early May, the Midwifery office will expand to occupying a separate suite on the fourth floor of the Coleman Center.

“Jay especially appreciates that the IUH midwifery program is part of the IUH Coleman Center and works collaboratively with IUH physicians,” said Rachael. “The physicians are right there if they are ever needed throughout our pregnancy and birth process.”

Rachael will deliver at the new IU Health Riley Hospital Maternity Tower with a midwifery team and a doula. IU Health OB/GYN providers will be available if needed.

Some research dates the beginnings of midwifery to the 17th Century. The word means “with woman,” referring to the care from puberty to menopause. Two years ago, there were nearly 13,000 Certified Nurse Midwives working throughout the United States attending to approximately 400,000 births, and nearly 10 percent total births throughout the U.S. They work in hospitals, homes and freestanding birthing centers. Since 2010, Certified Nurse Midwives are required to hold a graduate degree. The American College of Nurse Midwives reports Certified Nurse Midwives hold prescriptive authority in all 50 states and are defined as “primary care providers” under federal law.

Having a midwife as a primary care provider was exactly what the Wolverton’s imagined when they learned that Rachael was pregnant.

As Victoria Floyd listened to the baby’s heartbeat, the Wolverton’s smiled with anticipation. They are having a girl. Due on Aug. 24, she will become the first grandchild on both sides of their families. Floyd is the manager of the IU Health midwifery program. She started at IU Health as a nurse from 2007-2014 and returned in 2020 as a midwife. She is one of five midwives in the practice. Dr. Alissa Conklin is the medical director.

“I decided to become midwife after my first birth with a nurse-midwife. I had such compassionate and personalized care I felt strong and empowered and I wanted to be able to share that with pregnant people,” said Floyd. “I love being able to provide individualized care that prioritized safety and recognizes my patients as holistic people with unique preferences and needs. I love to be part of helping people plan and grow their families as they desire.”

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