Health pros: Get to know Eagle County’s only midwife, Kerrie Kuhl
May 30, 2011
Midwifery is a growing practice in the United States, and residents of the Vail Valley are lucky to have Kerrie Kuhl, a certified nurse midwife with more than 14 years of experience. Midwifery is a growing trend, with midwives delivering more than 7,000 babies annual in the state of Colorado, a number that has nearly tripled in our state since 1990.
Vail Daily: What is a nurse midwife?
Kerrie Kuhl: Midwives are primary health care providers to women throughout the lifespan. Midwives are most commonly known for labor and birthing care; however, they also perform physical exams, prescribe medication, provide prenatal and gynecological care, as well as health education and counseling to women of all ages.
VD: How did you become a midwife?
KK: As a nurse in the Navy, I served many different nursing roles, and on a base in Okinawa, Japan, I was first exposed to midwives. I soon completed my commitment with the Navy and went to Colorado University in Denver to earn a master’s degree in advanced practice nursing: nurse midwifery. From there, I began a practice in St. Peters, Minn., where I practiced until coming to the Vail Valley in 1998.
VD: What are the benefits of midwifery?
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KK: The reason most people are drawn to midwifery is because it is a more natural approach to child birth and women’s health. In general, midwives are able to spend more time with patients and they provide more education and resources. Most insurance companies cover a birth with a midwife, and in some cases, it can even be cheaper.
VD: Do you do homebirths?
KK: In my practice, I do not do homebirths, nor water births, but many midwives do. I deliver babies at the Vail Valley Medical Center, and we do have a Jacuzzi tub to ease the labor process. Another possible misconception is that midwifery means natural child birth. Although I take a more natural approach, pain assistance, including epidural, is an option and is always up to the mother to decide.
VD: Is midwifery for everyone?
KK: Midwifery is a great option for low-risk pregnancies, but certain complications require additional testing and monitoring that is more suited for an M.D. Midwives are trained to recognize when additional medical support is needed and often consult with an M.D. in deciding if the pregnancy is too high risk. I work very closely with Dr. Samuels (also of Vail Valley OBGYN) to make sure our patients and their babies are being taken care of in the best and safest way. Additionally, VVMC brings in Dr. Oliver Jones, a perinatologist who specialized in the highest of risk cases, twice a month from Denver.
VD: When you aren’t delivering babies, what are you doing?
KK: I deliver about 50 babies a year, but when I am not doing that, I have a comprehensive women’s health practice at Vail Valley OBGYN in Edwards. I do general women’s health and consult and care for women’s issues, such as osteoporosis, birth control, annual exams, infertility and menopause, including hormone-replacement therapy.
Kerrie Kuhl is the valley’s only certified nurse midwife and has more than 14 years of experience. She practices at Vail Valley OBYN, a nonprofit service of Vail Valley Medical Center.