The Case of the Missing Midwives (Again)

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We were here, in this exact spot a year ago, when the Case of the Missing Midwives first presented itself.  And yet again, The Doula Detective has been on the phone all day because suddenly, the Midwives at Rapphannock are no longer seeing patients effective immediately.

The announcement was made last month that Julie Weathers and Dana Taylor from RWHC and LeeAnn Parker with Generations of Women OBGYN were moving their practice to Richmond later this summer, but they were originally told, as were their patients, that they would be seeing and delivering their current patients until at least mid-July

But as of this morning, the Midwives at Rappahannock have been removed from the staff, and the office is left trying to reschedule their patients with the remaining physicians. 

What really happened?

Contractual obligations between a midwife and their clinic often include rules about when and what a provider can say if they know they are leaving, and there are often very stringent rules about how close by they can work, what they can say, so they don't "poach clients" from a clinic.

So while we don't know exactly what happened, our best guess based on history and experience is that the midwives WERE planning on seeing patients through mid-July, but then were dismissed early because the clinic saw (or forsaw) a mass exodous of pregnant patients, and wanted to try to show people their other care provider offerings. 

Having worked with them as closely as we have, I feel confident in saying that Julie Weathers and Dana Taylor know this has left some of their patients (especially those due before August first) feeling lost and wanting for a midwifery model of care, and they would want you to know this is not how they wanted this change to happen.

What can I do?

You always have options.  The urgency to act on them depends on how pregnant you are. 

If you are 32 weeks pregnant or less

(or not pregnant at all and seeing the midwives for your well-women care), your options remain about the same:

  1. Make yourself at home with the other providers at Rappahannock.
  2. Find a new practice in Fredericksburg.  You will need your medical records.
  3. Follow the midwives to Richmond OBGYN, which is currently accepting patients for appointments in August (possibly sooner).

If you are more than 32 weeks pregnant

this can feel like more of a moment for panic.  Please don't panic. 

  1. Feel free to call The Virginia Baby Co. at 540-300-1102.  Our mission is to create stronger communities through positive experiences with pregnancy, birth and new babies.  We know people who seek out the care of a midwife do so because they want a strong connection with the person who cares for them during pregnancy, because they want a "more intuitive" or "natural" approach to birth while keeping available medical assistance when necessary, or because they CONNECT with their midwives as their care providers.  We will happily discuss your options until you are comfortable with them.
  2. Put into words why you were seeing the midwives. There aren't any wrong words, but knowing exactly why you saw them and you stayed with them will help inform your next steps.
  3. Decide if you can still get that from your physician options at Rappahannock.  Yes, doctors can deliver babies "naturally" and especially if you are a second-time parent who is already comfortable with the doctors here.  This may be a good option for you, especially if you hire a doula to help provide continuity of support and a face who you can get to know before your baby's birthday.
  4. If you want to go elsewhere for your pregnancy care, you can.  There are great options in Fredericksburg or even in Richmond.  We know for sure that as of 6/21/17 Advanced Care for Women delivering at Spotsy Regional has a midwife and is accepting new patients, even ones late in pregnancy.  

I will happily update this list as local OB offices call to tell me they are prepared to receive you late in pregnancy.

The tricky part of going any new place is that in order to care for you well, they need your medical records for this pregnancy, at a minimum.  Medical records can take up to two weeks to release.  You will find more information on medical records privacy and rights here, including what to expect and how to request them.

Where do I go from here?

The first thing you do is make a choice where you are going to attend for your pregnancy care.

The second is to put into writing why you sought midwifery care, and why you chose to stay at Rappahannock or Leave.  Honestly, this won't help you much, but a short, professional and direct letter might help inform them of future offerings to their patients.  Make sure to print it out and send it to them.

Lastly, decide if hiring a doula would provide you with more stability and continuity of support during this time of uncertainty.  We guarantee to have your back from now through your baby's first year, and we are offering a discount to all of Julie and Dana's former clients. 

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Victoria McCollum

Victoria McCollum is a birth and postpartum doula and owner of Doulas of Fredericksburg, in Fredericksburg, Virgina. She resides there with her husband and three precocious sons.