Opinion: Porter’s approach to women’s health is beyond reproach
I write to address an opinion published on March 3 under the headline “Changes at PMC to affect women” which spoke of the combining of practices of the midwives and the obstetricians at Porter Hospital. I proudly respond as both a patient of Tapestry Midwifery and a provider at the new Porter Women’s Health. I am the most recent physician addition to the former Addison Associates in OB/GYN (AAOG), having started this past August. I also started my new position when I was 26 weeks pregnant.
While I came to Porter from a large, academic center that oversaw nearly 7,000 deliveries per year (with an epidural rate in the 90th percentile), I also came in with the experience of having been a doula, a Hypnobirthing childbirth educator, a proponent of natural childbirth, and a supporter of home birth. Although I chose to pursue a career in obstetrics, I am aware that not all obstetricians share my perspective or a similar path to attending births.
I started my new job nervous to see what the birth culture in my new setting would be and hoping my style of practice would be compatible with my new OB/GYN partners. I feel I have been especially blessed to join the ranks of the physicians at AAOG in their level of care and compassion for their patients, and their belief in and support of low-intervention birth. Their statistics speak for themselves when you consider their C-section rate, which is at half of the national average (specifically at 16 percent — most of which were elective repeats, breech babies, or true medical emergencies) and a 100 percent VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section) success rate.
I also can speak of the incredible care I received in my pregnancy as a patient of the midwives at Tapestry. I know what a sweet and loving space they created in the Vergennes office and cannot deny the personal loss I feel for that space closing down.
I know personally the desire to have a midwife birth, but I also can speak to the care that my partners and I provide to our obstetrical patients. I have never before worked with OB/GYNs with the same commitment to natural childbirth and supporting women with the right to choose the type of birth they seek. As a group, we truly recognize that birth matters.
As for my own birth, it was attended by both a midwife and an obstetrician. They both supported and empowered me in my process, and importantly, they supported each other in kind. I am forever grateful to them and to the amazing staff of the birth center at Porter for helping my family and me bring my daughter into the world.
So is the loss of two separate practices, midwives and obstetricians, a loss for the community? Of course it is. Yet, I am also hopeful that Porter Women’s Health may be a beautiful gain in our community — one that showcases how midwives and obstetricians may develop the kind of functional working relationship I have yet to see elsewhere between what are typically considered disparate factions. The practitioners at Porter may even model what it means for such relationships to be so seamless that a patient may not be able to tell the difference between a midwife and doctor.
I am so proud and grateful to have both the midwives of Tapestry and the obstetricians of AAOG as colleagues. I hope for those who have reservations or concerns about the care they might receive from either group to please come meet us, ask questions, and get a sense of who we are as people and providers. We understand how important it is to prepare for and create the birth that you desire, especially considering that birth is a major life event not only for babies, but for parents and families as well. If you find, in talking with us, that we are the group that can be with you during your pregnancy and birthing process, we would be honored to care for you and support you in any way we are able. Whether you have an unmedicated birth on hands and knees or request an epidural, whether you have a cesarean or a VBAC, we welcome you and will do our best to support you with a loving embrace.
Mark A. Nelson of Bristol
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