After assisting with childbirths as a registered nurse (RN) for several years, Samantha Pierce, RN, CNM, WHNP, decided to explore her passion for labor and delivery even further by becoming a certified nurse-midwife (CNM). While midwives are well-known for attending births, CNMs also provide various levels of prenatal, reproductive and primary care for many patients. We spoke with Samantha, a recent graduate of the Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (NM/WHNP) program at the Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies in Washington, D.C., about the unique aspects of her specialty and why she loves being a CNM.
NN: Can you share a little bit about your nursing career journey? Why did you become a CNM?
Samantha: My path to becoming a nurse was very different than most—I married an over-the-road truck driver and together we drove across the country. I realized that was not the path for me, so we sold our truck and I enrolled in nursing school with the intention of becoming a pediatric nurse. However, when I had my obstetrics rotation, I fell in love and knew I wanted to be part of the miracle of birth. When I graduated 12 years ago, I started on a large mother-baby unit and then transferred to labor and delivery. Eventually, I became a supervisor of a small women’s services unit, which is when I realized I wanted to go back to school to be a midwife.
NN: What do your day-to-day responsibilities look like as a CNM?
Samantha: I see between 15 and 20 patients in the clinic setting every day, and personally deliver between five and 12 babies per month.
NN: How does your job differ from that of a typical labor and delivery nurse?
Samantha: I assist with the management of the labor, but I also get the privilege of managing care during the antenatal period and doing the vaginal delivery or assisting with the Cesarean section. Then I get the opportunity to see the patient back for lactation consultation, postpartum visits and annual exams.
NN: What do you wish people knew about the role of a CNM?
Samantha: Most people think a midwife equals a home birth and this is not necessarily the case. While CNMs may specialize in natural labor, our scope of work involves so much more. We can manage patients who use epidurals, and we also take care of other types of patients, like women who have birth control concerns or are going through menopause.
NN: What is the most challenging part of your job?
Samantha: Time management is by far the most challenging aspect. A patient can go into labor while you are at the movies with your family. You must have a supportive family to keep a healthy work-life balance.
NN: What do you think students need to know about this specialty?
Samantha: Being a midwife is very rewarding, but it can be a very strenuous job. The hours are long, but it is worth it when you stand with a mother who is in labor and she gets the delivery she envisioned.
NN: How did you get involved with the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM)? How has your involvement enriched your professional career?
Samantha: I was encouraged to attend the ACNM convention and join as a member while I was in school. I saw the benefits immediately. It has enriched my professional career by enabling educational opportunities, as well as allowing for networking among fellow midwives.
NN: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Samantha: My own birth story made me the type of midwife I am. I did not have the labor or delivery I had envisioned and now it is my mission to try and give patients what they envision whenever possible.
Earlier this month, thousands of midwives from around the world gathered in Toronto, Canada for the 31st International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Triennial Congress, where 400 midwives participated in the JOHNSON’S® First Touch Infant Massage Event to set the Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Infant Massage Lesson. To learn more about the Congress and how Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (JJCI) supports midwives around the world, visit jnj.com.