Savor the Tiniest Moments
We provide a supportive environment for moms-to-be, so you can focus on having a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
Pregnancy and Childbirth
Midwives for Prenatal Care
High-quality prenatal care is important for your baby’s best possible start. At Virgnia Mason Franciscan Health birth center, our certified nurse midwives (CNM) provide comprehensive care to guide you through your pregnancy journey.
What to expect
The first best thing you can do for your baby is to practice good prenatal care. This starts with regular prenatal appointments, but includes many choices you make throughout your pregnancy.
Throughout the Puget Sound, our prenatal providers work together to care for you and your baby. A CNM can see you for prenatal appointments, answer any questions or address any concerns you may have.
Your CNM will provide you with guidelines for a healthy pregnancy during your first prenatal appointment. You should schedule your first prenatal visit after you learn that you are pregnant. Your CNM will:
- Do a complete History and Physical
- Draw your blood
- Perform a full pelvic exam
- Do a Pap test and cultures to look for infections or problems
During this first visit, your CNM will ask you questions about:
- Your overall health
- Any health problems you have
- Past pregnancies
- Medicines, herbs, or vitamins you take
- Whether or not you exercise
- Whether you smoke or drink alcohol
- Whether you or your partner have genetic disorders or health problems that run in your family
You will have many visits to talk about a birthing plan. You can also discuss this with your CNM at your first visit. If you have an ultrasound at your first prenatal visit, you may be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat around six to eight weeks. Heart tones can be detected by Doppler at ten to twelve weeks.
At this time you will also consult with your CNM about how to manage common pregnancy complaints such as:
- Morning sickness
- Backaches, leg pain, and other aches and pains during pregnancy
- Problems sleeping
- Skin and hair changes
- Vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy
No two pregnancies are the same, if you have any questions or major changes, your CNM will be there to guide you. You will learn what your regular prenatal visits will look like during this first appointment.
The services covered by CNMs don’t begin and end with pregnancy and childbirth. Our CNMs also:
- Offer gynecological and primary care, including performing routine physicals along with pelvic and breast exams
- Provide in-depth health care education and counseling
- Order lab tests and diagnostic screenings such as mammograms
- Discuss family planning
We’re honored to help you and your family by providing the finest childbirth and parenting resources in the Puget Sound. All of our classes are taught by qualified, specialty educators.
We offer classes including Childbirth Preparation, Tools to Build a Better Birth, Especially Yours (one-on-one childbirth class instruction), Water Birth Basics, Breastfeeding Preparation and Preparacion para el parto (en Espanol) among many other options. You can take the Childbirth Preparation course online as well. In addition to the classes that we have available, you can get tours of the Family Birth Center you choose. We also offer orientation for The Midwifery Birth Center.
Sharing your pregnancy with other women who know exactly what you’re going through can be a great way to learn and feel confident about this wonderful journey. Our group-visit prenatal care program, CenteringPregnancy®, offers the three major elements of prenatal care: health checks, education and support.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends the group prenatal care model to increase patient education and provide community backing for expectant mothers. CenteringPregnancy group usually consists of eight to 12 pregnant women with similar due dates in a group discussion that starts in the second trimester. CenteringPregnancy is led by a CNM with other clinicians and educators joining when helpful. Spouses or birthing partners are welcome to attend as well. Your group will spend ten 90 - 120 minute sessions together throughout the pregnancy allowing you nearly twice as much time with your care provider than normal prenatal appointments. In addition to the important discussions, you’ll also routine health assessments like a blood pressure check, belly check and urine dips as appropriate.
With proven decreases in pre-term delivery and postpartum depression rates, CenteringPregnancy has a high satisfaction rate. The women involved in group prenatal care group are generally more engaged and informed. Bonding with the other mothers during CenteringPregnancy allows for additional social support after birth. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists studies have found that, “evidence suggests patients have better prenatal knowledge, feel more ready for labor and delivery, are more satisfied with care in prenatal care groups, and initiate breastfeeding more often.”*
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