Midwife Spotlight: ‘It’s more than babies and moms’

its more

Its more than just babies and moms, Midwife Nylene Brittain says of the magic that is part of her job at WellSpan OB/GYN in Chambersburg.

Baby’s first cry, mom’s first gaze of her tiny infant, and dad’s tears of joy.  Brittain has witnessed many magical moments in the delivery room, but there’s something the experienced midwife wants the community to know: “It’s more than babies and moms.” 

its more than babies
Nylene Brittain

Certified Registered Nurse Midwives are a critical member of WellSpan’s OB/GYN care teams.  The advanced practice providers do much more than deliver babies, they use their advanced training within the office setting, too.  Nurse midwives can perform annual well-women exams, diagnose and treat GYN issues, and council women on reproductive health needs. Brittain says many women think midwives are only part of a woman’s pregnancy care team.

“I went into a room to see a patient who was in her 80’s and I introduced myself; I said my name is Nylene and I am a nurse midwife.” Brittain recalls the patient’s reaction. “She said, ‘Oh honey, I haven’t needed a nurse midwife in many years.’”

Brittain says education is the part of the job she likes most.

“I see myself as a teacher and will spend time with my patients. I see girls who are in their teens when they have their first period; to women in their 90s who have other health concerns.”

READ: Future nurses get scholarships

Pursuing a dream

After years of working as a labor and delivery nurse, Brittain says she wanted to be able to do more. She pursued additional education to become a Certified Nurse Midwife. 

“I wanted to be able to help empower women and help them take control of their health.”

Her experience on the labor and delivery unit fueled her passion to care for women while they are giving birth. 

“It’s not just babies—it’s the women,” said Brittain.  “It is about showing the moms how powerful they are and showing moms how important they are.  My favorite part has always been that ‘ah-ha’ moment to that mom after the baby is born, that moment that says, ‘I can’t believe I just did that’, that is the coolest thing for me.”

Working in Franklin County for the last five years, Brittain says she likes the support and comradery from the community. 

Looking to the future

She’s looking forward to sharing WellSpan’s growing midwifery model with more women.  Recently, as the system developed a consolidated birthing unit in Franklin County within WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital, Brittain has been on the team of providers sharing best practices to offer women a diverse range of care to best fit their needs.  The best way to assess a patient’s needs is to listen to the experience she desires, she has often said; using medical training to develop a safe plan that closely aligns.

Her philosophy is to give women the birth experience they want within reason. 

“I want them to have the experience and not think that I am in charge. I never feel like I am in charge,” she said. She compares herself to being the producer of a show. Her patient is the main character.

“They are in charge,” she said. “It is their experience.”

National Midwifery Week is recognized every October as a time to celebrate nurse midwives and the care they provide to women of all ages. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”. Read more about how nursing contributions are being recognized at WellSpan Health.