BILLINGS – Area hospitals are responding to an influx in requests from expecting mothers to diversify care. That’s why as recently as the summer of 2022, Billings Clinic added another option for mothers preparing to give birth: midwives.
Since the start of the Billings Clinic midwifery program on July 1, thirty babies have been delivered with the help of now five midwives.
The program provides well-rounded care for women in addition to the five OBs currently at Billings Clinic, with two more doctors hired but not yet here, according to staff.
New mother Brittany Knopp was a part of the new midwife experience.
“I've seen a midwife since I was 13,” she said.
It’s true that Knopp is no stranger to midwives as she routinely saw one for annual check-ups and sports physicals, but up until recently the option wasn’t available at Billings Clinic for pregnancy and labor.
Her son, now roughly six weeks old, was the fifth baby to be born with the help of the midwife program.
She’s also familiar with midwives because her mother is one.
“I have actually had a dream of having midwifery at Billings Clinic for a long time,” said Tiffany Stensvad.
Stensvad, who heads up the program, watched with delight as her daughter Knopp delivered her first grand baby at Billings Clinic under the care of a fellow midwife.
“I think every woman should have the option of a midwife,” said Stensvad.
She says the hospital has been in talks about this program for some time, so when she was approached with the idea, of course, she jumped at the chance.
She says midwifery care is specialized for each woman with a focus on education through pregnancy and birth.
With the help of a midwife, women get the experience of birth their way.
“My friends think that midwives just do deliveries, and they don't do any medication intervention or anything, and that's just not how it is. That's very old-time thinking,” said Knopp.
And because the program lives inside the halls of Billings Clinic, Stensvad says patients have the option to see an OB or a midwife.
She says the beauty in that is women have the choice.
“We love to educate,” she said. “So I love the babies. I do. I love making little families. It's my favorite part. But I really love educating women. So because in the midwifery route, we really get to have a close relationship with a woman throughout their entire lifespan, which is huge.”
Midwives at Billings Clinic provide primary care for women across their lifespan from adolescence through menopause doing everything from care during pregnancy and birth to prescribing birth control and ordering tests.
Knopp says she wants that kind of personal care.
“I felt like I had so many different options and I got to choose how my delivery went,” she said.
As she holds her son close admiring his tiny features, Knopp reflects on her delivery and her journey to motherhood.
“I love being a mom. I've wanted to be a mom for a very long time,” she said.
And the moment her son came into this world was picture perfect.
“I wanted to go with the all-natural route not because I had to but because people told me I couldn’t, so I just had to prove all those people wrong” she laughed.
Stensvad says it’s that same birth experience other women want, too. She says that’s how the ball really got rolling, women asked for this kind of care.
“And we were able to take on the load fairly quickly and help out,” she said.
Knopp is glad about that.
“Everything went extremely well,” she said.