Virtua's Midwifery Birth & Wellness Center Celebrates One Year Anniversary

October 7, 20022 - Virtua Health’s Midwifery Birth & Wellness Center celebrated its one-year anniversary during National Midwifery Week, October 2 through October 8, 2022. Virtua built the Midwifery Birth & Wellness Center, the only freestanding birth center in South Jersey, in response to the growing interest of young families in having midwife-assisted birth in a non-hospital setting.

The midwifery model of care is based on the philosophy that birth is a natural part of life, rather than a condition to be treated. The approach is holistic, wellness-based, and patient- and family-centered. Physiologic labor and birth – often called natural labor and birth – is an option for women at low risk for pregnancy complications. It emphasizes a supported birthing process with less-invasive monitoring. Facilitated by a certified nurse midwife, a licensed provider trained in nursing and midwifery, physiologic birth allows women to give birth spontaneously without an epidural or other obstetric intervention, unless medically necessary.

The Natural Birth Experience
Safiatu Keita, 32, from Maple Shade, NJ, gave birth to her first child, daughter Dalia, on September 8, 2022, at the Midwifery Birth & Wellness Center.

“I always knew I wanted a natural birth in an intimate setting,” she explained.

Safiatu’s first appointment at the Midwifery Birth & Wellness Center lasted well over an hour, as her midwife explained the natural birth process in detail and addressed all of her concerns. She recalls her midwife telling her that “natural birth is something you have to prepare for.” And so, Safiatu did. She took childbirth education classes, which included labor management techniques to relax her body (so contractions are more efficient) and hypno-birthing classes to help her focus and breathe through the labor pains. Using these techniques, Safiatu was able to labor productively at home and arrived at the Midwifery Birth & Wellness Center at 4 a.m. Her daughter was born in the birthing tub two hours later.

“My birth experience was very beautiful,” she said. “I felt like I knew everyone on my team, and they were all there to support me. I felt so much energy after giving birth, and I know that this was the best option for me and my family.”

Rebecca Fidura, 32, from Mullica Hill, NJ, gave birth to her first two children with a midwife’s assistance in Virtua Voorhees Hospital. Her third child was born at the Midwifery Birth & Wellness Center on July 2, 2022. While she was happy with all three birth experiences, Rebecca “loved” giving birth at the Center.

“I felt like I was giving birth at a spa—the lights were dimmed, water was running in the tub, the queen bed was very comfortable, and it was so peaceful and quiet.”

Rebecca, like Safiatu, took classes to help her prepare her body and mind for natural birth. “It’s not easy,” she said. “I felt like I was training for a marathon. But I also feel that natural birth is the way that birth is supposed to happen. It is such a rewarding and empowering experience.”

Putting Birthing Persons First
“Starting or growing a family is such a special time for everyone involved,” said Karen McEvoy Shields, administrative and clinical director of the Midwifery Birth & Wellness Center. “The Virtua midwifery team strives to provide personalized experiences that celebrate the individual and reflect their respective preferences and values so that every birth is a beautiful experience.”

McEvoy Shields has been a practicing certified nurse midwife (CNM) in southern New Jersey for more than 20 years. She and her staff of midwives are committed to providing a full range of health services for women through every stage of life. This includes caring for teenagers, helping women with fertility issues, providing pre-natal and post-partum care, and offering menopause support.

In September 2022, the Midwifery Birth & Wellness Center and Virtua Voorhees launched TeamBirth NJ, an initiative presently offered at three locations across New Jersey designed to improve communication between patients and providers during labor and delivery, which further enhances the birth experience and results in the best outcomes for mothers and babies. Read more about TeamBirth here.

“We treat our patients as we would a friend or family member. It really is a lifelong partnership,” McEvoy Shields said.

“The Midwifery Birth & Wellness Center provides another option for women who don’t want or need to give birth in a hospital setting,” adds Nicole Lamborne, MD, vice president of clinical operations for women’s health services at Virtua. “It is the result of Virtua’s commitment to supporting all of our maternity patients and their families by providing the best possible labor and birth experiences to meet all of their expectations.”