Avera Medical Minute: National Midwifery Week

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 9:41 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Being with Moms as they deliver their babies has been the calling of Midwife Lisa Van Gerpen for over 20 years, and over 2,000 births. She knew there was something special about childbirth, even when she was a young girl.

“When I was a teenager I worked in a small-town hospital and begged them to let me watch births because I was so interested in it,” said Van Gerpen.

She’s among a team of Avera Certified Nurse-Midwives.

“We have a group of four midwives here at Avera and we all work very closely together and all have similar practice styles. So we do share the call for the births, but we also make sure that our women meet all of us so they feel comfortable with everyone,” said Van Gerpen.

One of those moms is Mary Wuestewald.

“We attended ‘Maybe a baby’ at Avera in Sioux Falls, and I kind of was just curious about midwifery and kind of their approach to things. And we found out, they’re very supportive of natural pregnancy and delivery for low-risk pregnancies,” said Wuestewald.

She liked the options and safety of more medical help close by.

“They really got to know us and our wishes for this natural birth. But we also liked that we would still be in the hospital,” said Wuestewald.

“I took care of her primarily throughout the pregnancy, but she had Courtney for her birth and just felt really comfortable with the whole team because she knew she would get the same care that she was expecting no matter who was on call,” said Van Gerpen. “We really just built a strong relationship with all of the midwives.”

The midwives at Avera focus on discovering Mom’s desires.

“We are more of a partner in the care we try to talk to women about what their desires are, we do a focus a lot on trying to support natural childbirth so if a woman wants to do natural childbirth we give her a lot of different resources for that,” said Van Gerpen. “If women want to have their baby in a different position or if they want to do something different for their birth have their husbands help catch the baby there are different wishes we try to make sure that we respect whatever their wishes are.”

More time is spent by Mom’s side.

“Even spent quite a bit of time with us during labor. This last one was delivered in the middle of the night, and my midwife was there the entire time,” said Wuestewald.

The relationship continues as the family grows.

“Women come back for maybe two or three babies but then they come back every year for physical or if they have any gynecological problems and things like that. So, the most rewarding part of the job is being able to build relationships with people and get to know them and keep seeing them and get updates on their children how they’re doing how their life is going, those kinds of things,” said Van Gerpen.

A silver lining to the pandemic is the ability to have pre-natal checkups in early pregnancy for low-risk situations. A free consultation is available with Avera midwives.

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