Midwives deliver babies…and more
When I interviewed Cape Cod Hospital midwife Janice DiGioia I truly felt her warmth and caring for every family she has helped welcome a new life into the world, and I saw it in the happiness of the couple whose baby she had just helped deliver that week. The midwife team makes Cape Cod Healthcare so much more than a hospital; they provide a home-like birth experience.
– Robin Clarke
When Krista Uzelli arrived at Cape Cod Hospital on April 20, she wasn’t entirely sure she was in labor. She had been having Braxton Hicks contractions, sometimes known as false labor pains.
Janice DiGioia, MSN/CNM with new parents, Krista and Ohran Uzelli.
Still, she and her husband, Ohran, checked into the hospital’s Family Birthplace and settled in for what they thought would be a long wait – Krista had been in labor for 12 hours with their first baby.
As soon as they arrived, Krista and Ohran met Janice DiGioia, MSN/CNM, the nurse midwife who was on duty that day. And they were glad they did. She helped the couple through an unexpectedly quick delivery.
“We were very lucky to have her,” Krista said. “ She was very calm at a time when I was not. Everything happened surprisingly fast. Janice made us feel comfortable and safe.”
“It was a smooth operation all the way,” Orhan added.
“It was the best delivery,” Janice recalled. “Krista immediately laid the baby right on her heart and Orhan cut the cord. Krista did it all natural and I told her, if you can do that you can do anything.”
Krista agreed, “I feel like a superwoman now.”
Midwifery has been in DiGioia’s blood for 32 years, and, while helping mothers through delivery of their babies is a large part of what she and the other midwives at Cape Cod Hospital do, it’s not all.
Midwives are also concerned with women’s overall health past the childbearing years, she said.
“We counsel women on gynecological issues, through menopause, as well as on the aging process,” DiGioia said.
Women on Cape Cod can learn more about what DiGioia and other nurse midwives do at two events this month:
- May 26: Shape Your Cape Summit sponsored by Cape Cod Young Professionals from 7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at The Resort and Conference Center in Hyannis
- May 28: Well Baby Fair [pdf] sponsored by Cape Cod Medical Reserve Corps from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hyannis Youth and Community Center on Bassett Lane.
DiGioia will be available to talk to women about their birthing options as well as other ways a nurse midwife can meet your health needs
“I hope people will ask me things like what are the new types of birth control, what do you suggest I take for my low bone density?” she said.
The Family Birthplace at Cape Cod Hospital is a calm, almost homelike atmosphere where mothers and their newborns spend their entire stay. Women labor, deliver and recover in the same private suite. And their husbands can stay with them.
Nearly all vaginal births are delivered by nurse midwives at the Cape Cod Hospital Family Birthplace. Midwives provide coaching and support through labor. They assess and manage labor and, in a normal delivery, they deliver the baby. The nurse midwives are certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives and can administer epidurals if necessary. However, if an expectant mother wants a doctor, or there are complications, there’s one nearby. They are all part of the Cape Cod Ob/Gyn and Midwifery team.
After the birth, the team helps moms care for their babies and provides breastfeeding, nutritional or healthcare advice as needed. And couples can see a midwife at their baby’s six-week checkup, if they want. A lot of people are satisfied seeing whoever is on duty in the group that day – nurse midwife or physician, said DiGioia. They get everything they need in one office.
The Numbers of Babies are Growing
This March alone, 94 babies were delivered at the hospital Family Birthplace. That’s the highest month since 2008.
Cape Cod Hospital has a higher percentage of midwife deliveries than most other hospitals in Massachusetts because nurse midwives assist with all normal births and the doctors do Cesarean sections. In 2015, Certified Nurse Midwives performed 80% of the deliveries at Cape Cod Hospital.
“We also have a higher number of vaginal births after c-sections (called Vbacs),” DiGioia said.
A Natural Calling
DiGioia knew she wanted to be a nurse midwife from the time she entered nursing school.
“I felt like helping women deliver babies was something I was meant to do. It came naturally to me to go through the process of labor and delivery,” she said.
And she’s delivered thousands of babies.
“Seeing a baby born brings such joy,” she said. “After all these years, it’s still magical.”
DiGioia credits her colleagues for her success.
“You can never do anything by yourself,” she said. “It’s the support of the group and the community” that make this experience possible.