Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

Midwives Bring More Healthcare Options to the Women of Southwest Montana

Babies are born every day. In fact, 249 were born in Butte at St. James Healthcare just last year. Over 200 births and over 200 different birth stories. Even twins have slight variances in their entrances.

Every mother has a birth story to share, but before they ever begin the labor process, a lot of thought, planning, and preparations go into that very moment. Different women want different things and sometimes her baby, her body, and her circumstances can impact the way her birth story takes shape.

Having options is important, and now, the women of Southwest Montana have two more.

Many parents will start in a birth class. Jenevieve Bayless, MSN, CNM once taught those classes as a registered nurse in the St. James Family Birth Center. Her grandmother was an obstetrics (OB) nurse for 25 years, so Bayless grew up hearing about the influence the healthcare team can have on women. She worked as an OB nurse for eight years and felt a calling to take her practice even further.

“I taught childbirth classes and realized that I had a lot to teach and that I was so passionate about this,” said Bayless. She went back to school for two years while continuing to work full time. She got her master’s and become a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM).

Now she won’t just be at the bedside of a mother in labor, she’ll be able to provide her healthcare throughout her life – from puberty to menopause.

Passion for women’s health drove Butte native Megan Bristol, MSN, CNM, as well. She’d been working at St. James Healthcare for ten years, eight of which were in the St. James Family Birth Center before she became a CNM.

“Right out of nursing school, I’ve always known that I wanted to go back and get my master’s. I originally had thought it would be as a nurse practitioner, maybe with a focus on women’s health, but when I worked in labor and delivery for a few years, I knew that working as a nurse practitioner – I would really miss the labor and delivery aspect,” said Bristol.

Bristol and Bayless describe midwifery as a practice that specializes in women’s health while providing patient-centered care. When delivering babies, they spend more time at the woman’s bedside and offer a lot of support. Not all of their patients are unmedicated but many choose to be.

Bristol and Bayless will start taking patients this month. The two midwives will join the SCL Health Medical Group - Butte OB-Gyn clinic, alongside Laura Twist, MD, Jacob Christian, DO, and Mark Garnaas, MD, as part of the options available to expectant mothers.

Jenna and Megan will help to deliver their patients’ babies at St. James Healthcare and will have access to the OB-Gyns and MFMs — or a maternal-fetal medicine specialist — should any complications or concerns arise.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) annual birth report shows births attended by CNMs are experiencing upward trends.

The two midwives aren’t only available to expectant mothers — they’re available as primary care providers, as well.

“We can do all kinds of screenings and annual exams and then if we need to refer or consult, we can do that,” said Bristol.

“Not only are we able to help with labor and delivery and help them with a time that they might not have ever gone through, but also there’s a postpartum period that a lot of people forget about — hormones are still changing, you have a new baby. What’s great with us is you can still contact us. You can talk to us. We’ll see you at least two more times if not more and then will follow up with you every year. I think it’s nice to have more people in your pocket,” said Bayless.

The two midwives are also looking forward to their outreach to women in rural southwest Montana, as well.

“Living in Montana, obviously we have a lot of rural areas, and women are going to have questions out there, they’re going to be pregnant out there,” said Bayless. “I’m very excited to help women feel more involved in their healthcare and see them in the towns where they’re at.”

Telehealth will also be available to women who can’t make it to their appointments.

From teenagers to women going through menopause, Bristol and Bayless are excited to get started.

“I’m really looking forward to being able to build relationships with my patients and being able to maybe meet a young girl as a teenager and then being able to provide her care when she becomes pregnant and then providing postpartum care and just follow her for the years beyond,” said Bristol.

“I’m looking forward to not only being able to be there when they’re in labor and helping through that time but also getting to know them throughout their whole lives, being able to follow their families and their lives, and just entwining my life with theirs,” said Bayless.

For more information please visit sjh-mt.org/baby or call 406-496-3627.

 

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