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.
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 patient’s 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.
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 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 through 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.
Written by McKayla Haack
McKayla is a Montana native who’s called Butte home for three years. She’s been sharing stories from Big Sky Country for nearly a decade and is honored to share the stories of St. James Healthcare patients and providers.
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Midwives Bring More Healthcare Options to the Women of Southwest Montana
About St. James Healthcare and Intermountain Healthcare
St. James Healthcare has served the people of Southwestern Montana for more than 135 years and is the largest and only acute care health care facility in the region. St. James Healthcare is a 67-bed hospital located in Butte, Montana, with more than 450 caregivers, alongside 100 physicians and advanced care professionals, offering 24-hour care and dozens of progressive specialty services. St. James Healthcare is part of the Intermountain Healthcare system. Based in Utah with locations in seven states (Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming) and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit healthcare system comprised of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,800 employed physicians and advanced practice providers. To help people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. To learn more about St. James Healthcare, visit sjh-mt.org.