Midwives Join the Care Team at Growing OB-GYN Clinic: Novant Health WomanCare

photos by JEJ PHOTOS

Always dedicated to next-level care, Novant Health WomanCare recently added midwifery services to provide care for women throughout their pregnancy and delivery. Midwives partner with the Novant Health obstetricians who have cared for Winston-Salem area patients for decades. These certified midwives support women who seek their specific expertise, and they provide it in the same building as traditional obstetrics and gynecology care, for both convenience and peace of mind.

A positive, safe, healthy and memorable birth experience is Novant Health’s number one goal, with board-certified physicians and certified nurse-midwives working together as a team. Your ob-gyn and midwife will collaborate to create a care plan that offers your family the best possible experience, and midwives also function as nurse practitioners, seeing patients in the clinic for gynecological problems, and even Pap tests. 

During the last year, five certified nurse-midwives joined Novant Health WomanCare. They are distinguished by both a professional certification and a nursing degree, and they deliver babies at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center.

Each brings a unique perspective, and all are eager to dispel several misconceptions about the profession. One is the thought that midwives are like doulas, and only offer support during labor. While that is a big part of their care, they are also medical providers. They deliver babies and repair vaginal lacerations after delivery and can also prescribe medications. 

Other misconceptions are that midwives only do home births, that they don’t encourage pain management, and that it’s not possible to have both a physician and a midwife present. While some midwives perform community birth, most practice in a hospital setting. They may specialize in supporting unmedicated laboring patients, but mothers-to-be have access to all appropriate pain management options. 

You are invited to meet the midwives at the following events:

  • Pregnant in the Piedmont, Saturday, Sept. 23

           10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

           Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center conference center 

           3333 Silas Creek Parkway, Winston-Salem

  • Meet the Midwives, Tuesday, Sept. 26

           5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. with tours of the new mother/baby and women’s units taking place at                   5:00, 6:30 and 7 p.m.

          Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center women’s services lobby                                                                              3333 Silas Creek Parkway, Winston-Salem 

Light refreshments will be served, and free parking will be available in the parking deck. Certified nurse midwives Tammy Brothers, Natalie Browske, Sybilla Howell, Leigh Anne Smith and Autumn Wendler, will be on hand to share vital information. 

More About Our Midwife Team

Tammy Brothers has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) for 14 years and an RN for 19 years. She feels Novant WomanCare is unique in being one of the few clinics offering midwifery care in the office, and in labor and delivery. “Midwives encourage people along the way, and we’re equipped to make small adjustments or perhaps big interventions when needed,” she said. “Midwives are a great asset to the team. We have expertise in women’s health, pregnancy and childbirth, plus we have a nursing background, which lends itself to a holistic approach. We also have a wonderfully supportive physician team at WomanCare, all who are experts at dealing with complications in pregnancy and delivery. The physicians perform C-sections when needed, so having us both available is the best of both worlds.” 

Natalie Browske, CNM, joined the Novant Health WomanCare practice May 1, and was previously a labor and delivery and mother/baby registered nurse for four-and-a-half years in Cincinnati. “We have a very collaborative practice philosophy, and multiple providers are always available to consult on problems that arise, or if we need a second opinion,” she said. “We are always paired with a physician when we are on-call, and all our physicians respect and understand midwifery, and encourage us to practice to the full scope of our license. I especially love meeting patients during prenatal appointments and then being a familiar face at the hospital when it’s time for labor and birth. We also check in postpartum to assess mental health and physical health or prescribe birth control.”

Sybilla Howell, CNM, has been a labor and delivery nurse for 14 years and a practicing midwife for 10 years. She has experience in both hospital births and out-of-hospital births. “The WomanCare team combines knowledge, compassion and technology to provide each patient individual care based on their health and history,” she said. “Being a labor and delivery nurse nudged my passion to do more — to teach, be present and provide care that many women miss out on. Based on my own delivery experience, had I had a midwife, I think my delivery would have been less invasive and breastfeeding would have been smoother. I strongly believe in giving guidance for an informed choice — to give advice and motivate, but let the mother make choices about her care.”

Leigh Anne Smith, CNM, started as an RN in labor and delivery and is committed to offering midwifery to women in the Winston-Salem community. The midwifery care model includes birth planning, movement during labor, wireless monitors, hydrotherapy and labor support. She loves the smaller practice setting where they know patients by name. “Each time a child comes Earth-side, it’s a true miracle, which never gets old,” she said. “It’s a pleasure to assist families during one of the most vulnerable times of their lives.” She also explains another misconception — that midwives aren’t certified. “At Novant Health, we are all certified nurse midwives, requiring a Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in midwifery, and a passed board exam. Our governing body monitors and sets yearly requirements to practice.”

Autumn Wendler, CNM, provides care to women from adolescence through post-menopause, with a special interest in mental health support, as well as LGBTQI+ care. She loves empowering women to actively participate in their wellness and agrees the collaboration with physicians is what sets Novant Health apart. “Our physicians provide the support we need to care for higher-risk patients who desire midwifery care, by helping us manage the more complex medical aspects so we can focus on the physiologic and holistic parts of pregnancy and birth,” she said. “We can provide patients with a midwifery-exclusive experience, even including patients with some high-risk factors. The physician may manage the medical aspects of labor, while the midwife takes the lead on labor and birth management.”

To schedule an appointment at Novant Health WomanCare call 336-765-5470. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center is expecting! Deliveries begin spring 2024.


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