A Midwife's Story
When Becky Johnson was looking forward to her first baby 20 years ago, she didn’t find many birthing alternatives in Orange county. So she decided to become the change she wanted to see. Today, Becky is proud to serve as Orange County’s first Certified Nurse Midwife. She joined Dr. Yoder and the obstetrical team at Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) and began delivering at the hospital late in 2016. She works with mothers from before conception to delivery, helping them plan the birth experience they want.
“I am so blessed to be able to deliver at a hospital with so many options. If you make a birth plan, they will honor it. If you want an epidural, the anesthesiologists are excellent. If you want natural childbirth, you will be supported and there is a labor tub that makes me want to have another baby just so I can get in!”
Well-versed in a variety of complementary and alternative techniques, she promotes family-centered care with minimal intervention and lots of encouragement.
“We practice delayed cord clamping and put baby skin to skin with mom right away." said Becky, "Many times babies will self-latch and start nursing soon after birth, so they get off to a great start.”
Midwives work at keeping things normal. Certified Nurse Midwives are specialized nurse practitioners who deliver babies for low-risk mothers. Because the majority of pregnancies are low-risk, the midwife treats childbirth as a natural occurrence--a family event rather than a medical event. This is not new for SICHC, whose doctors have been facilitating normal birth for decades.
Dr. Yoder, along with Dr. Faisal Khatri and Dr. John Waldron, share Becky’s commitment to women and work very hard to prevent cesarean sections. Only 13% of first time mothers require a cesarean at IU Health Paoli Hospital, as compared to the state average of 21% and the national average of around 25%. This hospital was also recognized by the March of Dimes for its high score in preventing early deliveries. Because of its strong OB performance, IU Health Paoli Hospital is the only IU system critical-access hospital that still offers obstetrical care.
“We make a great team and work really well together. Our philosophies are the same: Birth is normal and women are powerful. I feel confident that if for some reason I can’t be there for a birth, my moms are in good hands,” said Becky.
If complications do arise at any point in the pregnancy, however, the midwife can call on the full support of the physicians at Comprehensive Health Care (one of the 4 offices of Southern Indiana Community Health Care ). What many do not know about the physicians at SICHC is that they provide OB care utilizing the “consistent provider” model. This means that they manage the pregnancies all of the way through including into the labor and delivery process, rather than utilizing a group management model where multiple doctors interact with the patient and whoever is on call for that day, will do the delivery. That consistent care creates a bond that feels safe and comfortable for women facing their upcoming deliveries.
“We hear from many people that our OB department is the best kept secret in the county. People who deliver elsewhere, then come here for their next delivery can’t say enough about the kind, supportive setting they experienced in the IU Paoli Hospital birthing unit,” according to Dr. Yoder.
Becky does all of her deliveries on the birthing unit at IU Health Paoli hospital but also supports mothers who opt for home birth with regular check-ups, diagnostics, and guidance before and after delivery. Her approach is highly personalized, with an emphasis on informed choice.
“I want families to understand their options, ask questions and participate in the decision making process. As a midwife I can guide you through the many decisions that come up along the way. There are very few absolutes in childbirth.”
Dr. Yoder, who was instrumental in bringing Becky to the Comprehensive Health Care team, is pleased to introduce her to woman seeking alternative care for their pregnancies. “Becky’s approach is compatible with the flexible care that women receive when they deliver with us, but she takes it up a notch by being familiar with additional modalities useful for the laboring moms (for an example, spinning babies). By helping women become more familiar with their options, she empowers them to actively engage with choices for their birth process. Women are more informed than ever and want these choices. We are incredibly fortunate to have her offer this to our community especially since she is the only CNM to offer in-hospital deliveries between Indianapolis and Jeffersonville.”
Becky also cares for women from early adolescence throughout life for well-women check-ups and gynecological care, contraception, and sexual health. She follows up with moms post-partum and sees babies up to 1 month old. Dr. Yoder reports “women have found her to be easy to talk to and have a wealth of information valuable for their questions about their bodies in all stages of life”.
Becky received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from IU Southeast in New Albany, Indiana in 1999 and worked as a nurse locally for 15 years before returning to pursue an advanced practice degree at Frontier Nursing University.
“I chose Frontier Nursing University in Kentucky for my Masters in Nursing,” says Becky, “because it is the oldest midwifery school in the country and has a philosophy of serving the underserved and vulnerable populations.”
She received her Masters of Science in Nursing degree in 2015 and is certified through the American Midwifery Certification Board as a Nurse Midwife.
Becky lives in Paoli with her husband Bill and their 3 children, Erin, Kyle and Lily. Currently, Becky sees patients at SICHC’s Paoli office, Comprehensive Health Care. Over the coming weeks she will be accepting new patients at SICHCs affiliate office, Patoka Family Health Care in English as well. Obstetrics care is also available at SICHC’s Valley Health office in West Baden, in alternating visits with team of Becky, Dr. Khatri and Dr. Yoder in the Paoli office.
Becky is currently seeing patients at our Paoli and English offices. Contact us to make an appointment!
Websites of interest
Spinning babies--Easier birth with fetal positioning
TheBump--Pregnant or planning a baby? Find tons of great information and free apps here!
The Maternal and Child Health Moms Helpline is a service of the Indiana State Department of Health. They can help you with a variety of services, from free pregnancy and STD testing and health coverage enrollment, to transportation, housing assistance, nutrition, education and substace abuse counseling. Call (844) 624-6667 or visit their website for more information.
The Village Pregnancy and Postpartum Depression Support Group
One in seven women suffer from postpartum depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy. You are not alone! You are not to blame!
We encourage you to visit The Village support group, meeting on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the Paoli Public Library (use west entrance). Sit down with other women who have been there and know how you feel.
If you have questions or need to talk to someone, call The Village Warmline at (812) 723-7979 anytime to leave a message. A peer supporter will return your call within 48 hours. If you feel you may be a threat to your own safety or the safety of your child, please seek help immediately. Call your doctor or dial 911.
Childbirth classes help you learn what to expect during labor and how you can best prepare for the birth that you want for your baby. IU Health Paoli Hospital offers a free two-day series led by highly qualified and specially trained OB nurses. Classes are scheduled on the first and second Tuesday of each month, 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm, in the Medical Arts Building classroom. (Complimentary dinner provided.) A condensed, one-day session is also offered on the third Saturday of each month 10 am to 2 pm in the Medical Arts Building classroom. (Complimentary lunch provided.) Call (812) 723-7446 for more information and to register.
Breastfeeding for Healthy Moms and Babies
Orange County WIC supports breastfeeding!
WIC is a free supplemental food and nutrition program for pregnant women, new moms, nursing moms, infants, and children. Breastfeeding classes, lactation consultation, and WIC peer counselors can offer mother-to-mother support when you need it most. Call Orange County WIC at (812) 738-1601 or visit their offices at 204 E. Main Street in Paoli for more information.
La Leche League
For 60 years the mission of La Leche league has been to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother. If you have a question about breastfeeding or need support, call (812) 723-2305.