Jocelyn Schaller, CNM
Why did you become a midwife? For me, becoming a midwife has always been about the opportunity to optimize my ability to educate and empower women physically, emotionally, and spiritually. During my active duty tour in the U.S. Air-Force I served alongside an amazing group of midwives. Their passion for physiologic birth and advocacy for women was contagious. They taught me the value of partnering with women to improve their personal and unique birth experiences and I aspired to follow in their footsteps “one day”. I finished school and worked for many years as a Labor and delivery RN and charge nurse. I spent years watching cascades of unnecessary interventions and caring for women in this increasingly stressful and tense birth environment. It was defeating to see women becoming more and more disconnected with birth. I believe it was this that pushed me to actually start my midwifery journey. I have been practicing full scope midwifery for 7 years now, I feel blessed to be in a position to provide women with birth options and informed choices. It is incredible to witness women building their confidence, trusting their bodies, and ultimately discovering the strength and power they possess. I continue to feel honored and privileged each time a woman chooses to trust me to walk with them during such a profound period of personal growth and transition.
What do you wish women knew about pregnancy and birth? Selecting a maternity care provider and birth setting will ultimately affect the type of care women receive, the involvement they will have in all decisions concerning their pregnancy, as well as the options and choices available to them during birth. I wish women knew how important it is to begin the provider selection process as early as possible. This will ensure that they find a supportive provider who understands the value of trust, educating, and embraces shared decision-making.
What was your own birth experience like? I was very fortunate to experience one spontaneous vaginal birth. It did not go quite as I imagined. I battled pre-term labor and, in due course, met my daughter five weeks early. My birth was the perfect example of why it is important to develop a “birth vision”, and to also remain open physically and emotionally to change. Although my personal experience was, at times, both challenging and tumultuous… it was also my most joyful and prideful life event.
If you could change one thing about women’s health care, what would it be? I believe affordability and access to care have been addressed by my peers and I couldn’t agree more! Additionally, I would like to see more Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) and CNM collaborative models providing complete obstetric care. I believe every woman can benefit from midwifery care despite preexisting comorbidities or pregnancy complications. I have the privilege of working within this type of collaborative model currently here in Tucson, AZ. The partnership and collaborative relationship between MFM and CNM, as well as onsite nurses, genetic counselors, sonographers, and medical assistants offer the most supportive, comprehensive, and convenient care for women experiencing high risk pregnancy.
Tracy Burns, CNM
Years of practice: I have been an RN since 2003. I was a bedside OB nurse for one year then switched to NICU for 13 years before becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife.
Why did you become a midwife? I became a nurse-midwife because I have always had a deep passion for women and infants. I have always been fascinated with pregnancy and fetal development.
What do you wish women knew about pregnancy or birth? That it is one of the most amazing times in your life but also one of the hardest and most challenging things you will ever experience. That you have so much power and influence on the outcome. That through nutrition, fitness, mind-prep and good support you can have optimal outcomes and decrease your risk for complications. I pray that every single woman has resources, education, support and the tools they need to make informed decisions. My ultimate goal for every woman I care for is for them to feel empowered and transition into motherhood like a boss!!!!!
What were your own birth experiences like? I had my first daughter when I was 24. I did weight watchers and walked every single day during my pregnancy. I had zero idea about NCB and my husband and I didn't even realize that we needed a childbirth class, as healthcare providers we thought we were prepared. I would like to say we had good traditional obstetrical care. They stripped my membranes at 37 weeks and accidentally broke my water and i had a 24 hour labor and a vacuum delivery. With my second I also had my membranes sweeped at 37 weeks and then went into labor the next morning. Was 6-7cm when I got to the hospital with absolutely no pain management plan and no coping mechanisms so I got an epidural and had a speedy delivery shortly after. I do not have any plans to have anymore kiddos.... but I do slightly wish I had the resources that I have found in this community back then. I would love to train for, and have a natural childbirth.... but instead I will be helping all of you with that!!!!
If you could change one thing about women's health care, what would it be? If I could change one thing about women’s health care I would be able to provide mental health, nutrition counseling, exercise and fitness programs, and more general wellness and prevention to my patients, at younger ages to help decrease their risks across their life span.
Donna Barisich, CNM
Why did you become a midwife?
As a young nursing student in the early 70's, I witnessed the barbaric treatment of women in labor and knew there had to be a more humane way to give birth. I was passionately drawn to dedicate my clinical career to improving a woman's experience in childbirth. After working for many years as a childbirth educator and LD nurse, I was privileged to work at a birth center in NC with nurse-midwives. I immediately knew that nurse-midwifery was in my future.
What do you wish women knew about pregnancy and birth?
I wish women would trust their body. For most women, pregnancy and birth are normal events in their life, not a disease state. It is also very important for women to find a provider that listens, educates and truly employs shared decision-making. With the appropriate care, most women can have a safe and satisfying birth experience even if complications develop.
What were your own birth experiences like?
I had three very positive birth experiences. I had three normal, unmedicated vaginal births attended by family practice physicians in my community since there were no nurse-midwives practicing in my area. I was able to be mobile in labor and was an integral part of decision-making when complications arose. I was very self-confident and self-actualized, knowing that my body knew what to do and with the support from my husband, nurses and physician that I would have normal births.
If you could change one thing about women's health care, what would it be?
If I could change one thing, nurse-midwives would be the preferred provider for all normal, healthy women during pregnancy and birth. As the evidence shows, this would not only improve maternal and fetal outcomes and reduce healthcare costs, but also provide women with more options for a safe and satisfying birth experience.
Jennifer Nash, CNM
Experience: I have been a nurse for 9 years and a midwife for 5 of them. I always knew I wanted to be a midwife and worked hard in my early years to prepare for midwifery as a maternity nurse and childbirth educator. I have worked in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas in every setting from rural hospitals to a birth center to a tertiary care center with very high-risk women. I have loved it all! I have also worked for the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers performing site visits of birth centers across the country.
Why did you become a midwife? I saw midwifery as a combination of everything I wanted to do: provide education, build relationships, and empower women through healthcare.
What do you wish women knew about pregnancy or birth? Education, nutrition, exercise, and choosing your provider are the only things you can control in pregnancy. Focus on them and learn to let go of what you can’t control, it is an important lesson for birth and parenthood.
What were your own birth experiences like? I have one son, Howie, who is almost 2 years old. Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite as planned with his birth. I had to be induced for preeclampsia and it was a long and hard process. However, I think that the greatest lesson from the experience is to surround yourself with people you trust and who know your wishes, so they can advocate for you and support you when things get hard.
If you could change one thing about women's health care, what would it be? Cost! Healthcare is a right!
Janice Bovee, CNM
Years of practice: I became an RN in 1978. I worked in L&D, Emergency, NICU, PedICU for 20 yrs before becoming a nurse-midwife.
Why did you become a midwife? I became a nurse-midwife because I wanted to have a more progressive role in caring for women. I wanted more advanced education and training. I thought about going to medical school to become an obstetrician, but realized that I was most interested in the midwifery model of care.
What do you wish women knew about pregnancy or birth? I wish that women were more empowered, in pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood. I want to be a source of knowledge and empowerment for them to make their own best decisions and choices.
What were your own birth experiences like? My first pregnancy was at age 19. I was completely unaware of what was happening to me. In those days, we never heard our babies’ heartbeat or saw an ultrasound. It was all a mystery. We had no support in labor and birth. It was all scary and lonely. I want to make sure the mothers I care for feel respected, heard, guided and supported.
If you could change one thing about women's health care, what would it be? If I could change one thing about women’s health care it would be to train more nurse-midwives. I believe the future will need more of us and we need to be ready. I love this work!