We are thrilled to begin our week of interviews with Jerri Walker, CNM, a hospital-based nurse midwife working with Back Cove Midwives and catching babies at Mercy Hospital. Originally from Virginia her accent is a warm and welcoming sound to many. As an avid knitter, you might find one of her hats at your babe's birth.
Maine Doulas: Please share with us your take on birth. When did you know you wanted to become a midwife.
Jerri Walker: I feel that birth is a journey that is primal. It takes the ability to let go of one's control and be in the moment, to trust those around you and yourself. There are many paths to birth, no one way is right for all birthing individuals and we should not be critical of choices that are made by individuals. No one has walked in another's shoes or knows another's struggles.
I knew I wanted to be a midwife as a senior in high school. That is why I originally went to nursing school. It took me a bit longer to reach this goal than I anticipated then!
MD: What is your claim to fame as a midwife?
JW: Not sure I have a "claim to fame" yet...but being calm outwardly despite feeling stressed on the inside is a trait I possess.
MD: What makes Back Cove Midwives special? And how many births do you welcome each month?
JW: Back Cove Midwives is the only independent nurse midwife practice in the state. We do our births at Mercy Hospital Birthplace but are not employed by Mercy. We feel that Mercy Birthplace is very supportive of birth choices for birthing individuals. With 4 midwives in our practice we have wonderful coverage and we do not limit our births per month.
MD: Are you familiar with external ways of assessing dilation? (e.g. vocalization, blue/black line).
JW: Yes and as a practice, we limit vaginal exams when we can.
MD: What is your practice for over due babies? How many weeks ‘overdue’ could a client go before you need to transfer care to All About Women)?
JW: We do not risk out for postdates, but we do plan for induction at 43w gestation. We do not suggest induction before 42w, unless medically indicated but we do not "make" anyone go past 42w unless they choose. Other reasons for risking out of our practice includes gestation diabetes that requires insulin for management, there are also other medical conditions that could risk a birthing individual out of our practice.
MD: Midwives provide care for normal and healthy pregnancies. Not often but when something changes and there's need for obstetrical support what is your transfer rate to All About Women? Maine Medical Center? What are the typical causes for transfer?
JW: I would estimate it to be around 5%. Our most frequent reason for transfer of care to Maine Medical Center is prematurity (35wks). Other reasons for transfer would include fetal anomalies that require NICU care or occasionally maternal health issues. Our most common reasons for transfer to All About Women are twins and insulin needs for Gestational Diabetes (GDM).
We do not care for birthing individuals who have had a previous cesarean birth, known twins, or there are some maternal medical conditions that may not be appropriate for midwifery care. Also, someone with addiction issues--those babies need care that Mercy nursery does not provide at this time.
Although, our practice does not do twins or breech births, before BCM was independent, Joyce and Ellie did, along with physician's in their practice for these types of births.
MD: Who are your clients, typically?
JW: We have a wide variety of clients, I would say they have a common desire for choices in their birth experiences and this is an important aspect of our practice.
MD: Do you work with doulas?
JW: Of course! Doulas are an asset to birthing individuals and provide support for families both in pregnancy, labor and postpartum.
MD: Ok something fun here, if you were a car, what would you be and what's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you at a birth?
JW: '66 mustang convertible! While passing a baby through a mother's legs during a waterbirth, she started to sit back and I said in my "slightly" Southern accent, "Don't sit on your baby". The nurses like to remind me of this at my waterbirths frequently!
MD: What are three words to describe you?
JW: Laid back, accepting, "birthie" (like Hippie but about birth)!
MD: What’s your guilty pleasure?
JW: Eating vanilla frosting with a spoon, out of the can.
MD: If you had a super power, what would it be?
JW: No super powers for me, just a regular person!
MD: What is one of the differences between your “on call life” and “off call life”?
JW: My on-call life revolves around being in Portland since I live too far away to stay home when I am on call. So, my off call life is being home in my own space, hanging with my husband, dogs and chickens. (And her shiny shoes! - jp)
MD: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
JW: Birth is a time in one's life that brings about strong emotions and changes. It is intense. Finding the ability to trust one's body and the support people you have chosen to be around you during the time is so important.
MD: How can interested pregnant mamas-to-be find you?
MD: If you had to use just one word to describe birth, what would it be?
JW: Amazing--every time!