Why Choose
a Midwife? Jeri and a new mom, at Alta Bates

This article, written by Jeri Zukoski, originally appeared in Birth Ways in June 2002

Certified Nurse Midwives and You

Imagine the celebrated birth of your child attended to in a peaceful setting by the midwife of your choice - a woman who will provide support during your prenatal exams, labor, birth and postpartum. For a growing number of parents today, Midwives are an excellent and attractive alternative to hospital-centered OB practices. Jeri attends 92% or all her clients' births.

Today's Certified Nurse Midwife is a professional health care provider. She is a Registered Nurse (R.N.) who has graduated from one of the advanced education programs accredited by the American College of Nurse Midwives. In addition, nurse midwives must also pass a national certification examination and meet strict requirements set by state heath agencies.

The secret of midwifery care at Alta Bates is building trust, and this is accomplished by spending relaxed time with her client on a monthly and even weekly basis. This kind of compassionate, loving attention has been proven to reduce the need for operative delivery, pain medication and the occurrence of postpartum depression. It is crucial for a woman to trust her care provider and a midwife establishes this trust by taking time to get to know her client.

Care provided by midwives is characterized by distinctly low rates of cesarean births (8% vs 30% for most OB/GYNs), as well as low rates of infant mortality, technological intervention, induced labors and episiotomies. And medical safety? Numerous studies have demonstrated time and time again that women who are under a nurse midwife's care can expect the same level of safety as they can from a physician.

Personal attention and moral support are two reasons women choose a midwife. Because of this, mothers under a midwife's care tend to need less medical intervention. Jeri is firm about the importance of nutrition. An entire hour is devoted in reviewing your diet "diary". Ask about a lasar scan by Jeri but first watch the YouTube video by Dr. Oz on anti-oxidant scans which scores your rate of absorption of anti-oxidant.

"A thousand years ago the Chinese organized prenatal classes to guide a woman through pregnancy, believing that her emotions and biology together influenced the nature and future behavior and health of her child. The culture fostered her emotional tranquility as well as physical well-being. We too need a place that concerns itself not only with our bodies, but with our psyches and spirits,"

– Leni Swartz, The World of the Unborn

We at Alta Bates feature:

During birth midwives encourage low light, skin to skin contact with other and baby to soothe and protect the newborn. Every effort is made to ensure that the mother and baby stay together at all times. Fathers are encouraged to participate or even help "catch" the baby. A father's presence is always respected, even if he only chooses to be present on an intermittent basis. We keep families together even in a C-section.

Because midwives' clients experience warmth, creativity and balance in a setting where medical technology if needed is sensitively applied, it is not unusual for expectant mothers to discover they want midwivery care late in their pregnancy. Clients can easily switch from MD to CNM care anytime in their pregnancy and still have insurance cover all costs.

Statistics prove that midwives are delivering more babies than ever, making the option of having a provider who you know and trust at your birth, one that can directly result in safer medical care, an invaluable cutting edge medical decision.

Jeri Zukoski, CNM, has 20 years experience specializing in VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section) and teenage pregnancy. After completing nurse-midwifery training at UCSF in 1986, she practiced in hospitals, home and birth center settings. As a member of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, Jeri is an approved clinical preceptor and has enjoyed teaching student nurse-midwives, student nurses, and pre-med students from UC Berkeley for the past 23 years. Jeri's clients may deliver at the Family Birth Center, at Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley. Her services are covered by Hill Physicians, Medi-Cal and almost all insurances, PP or HMO. She can prescribe standard medication. Her calm style focuses on personalized, compassionate care involving the entire family, encouraging a holistic approach to pregnancy and childbirth. She is also a fitness specialist and has a background in dance and teaches private classes for her clients.

For more information contact,
Jeri Zukoski: 510-530-3374, medicalmidwifery@mail.com
Midwifery Today: www.midwiferytoday.com
The Amercian College of Nurse Midwives: www.midwife.org