'It's a misconception that just we just use herbs and go to people's houses'
Listen to Midwife Dawn Dahlgren-Roemmich talk about her early experiences out on her grandparent's farm and you get a sense that her nurturing spirit and compassion for others, even though at that age it was for animals, was developed at a young age.
"My grandparents had a calving operation, and I was always telling my grandpa they don't like to be in that "jail"; I told him him he should just let me walk with them and talk with them," she says laughing. "So, I was around birthing at a young age, and I wanted to take care of moms and babies since I was little."
Dahlgren-Roemmich brings her compassion and enthusiasm to Tri-County Health Care's new midwife program being offered at its Wadena and Sebeka clinics.
The main components of a midwife's services are prenatal care through postpartum and certain primary care services for women from adolescence through menopause, and well-woman exams. Midwifery differs from obstetrics in that midwives typically take a holistic approach, which means they treat the whole person, not just the condition, looking a the complete picture from mental health to socioeconomic status to family dynamics.
"When I was in nursing school I told my professors that I wanted to do extra clinicals at the local hospitals in Fargo with one of the midwives," Dahlgren-Roemmich recalls. "They actually told me I didn't want to do that because I was going to have stay up all night. I told them I didn't care."
Undeterred, she followed the midwives around for four weeks, helping with births. She still smiles and talks with excitement when she recalls how she told her roommates and husband that she knew that's what she wanted to do.
Shortly after graduation she moved to St. Cloud and worked as a labor and delivery nurse, and then a year later she started graduate school at the University of Minnesota.
She thinks it's a common misconception that midwives don't go to school.
"I went to a lot of school. I have an undergraduate degree, plus graduate school and countless hours of additional training," she said. "Midwives are highly educated and skilled. It's a misconception that just we just use herbs and go to people's houses."
She adds another misconception is that midwives only deliver babies at home. She's never delivered a baby at home and feels delivering at a hospital is a great choice for mom and baby.
"Hospital rooms don't have the clinical feel anymore, they are actually very home-like. But, if something were to happen, all the medical equipment you might need is readily available, so there is that safety net for the mother and baby if needed."
After 14 years in Shakopee, Dahlgren-Roemmich wasn't sure her family would be willing to uproot and move, but her four kids have quite a few friends in the area from their time competing in rodeo, and they have family up this way, so getting everyone excited for the move wasn't the hard part. The harder part was finding just the right place for their three horses, a pony, two border collies and a bunny.
"We love the area, my parents are here as well as my husband's siblings, so this move was easy —it was a win-win for everyone," she said.
Dahlgren-Roemmich feels being at TCHC is also a win-win for her and the patients because she gets to continue to do what she loves at a facility that provides great care. She's impressed at what the hospital has to offer and is optimistic about how she can contribute.
"What I love about being a midwife is that I get to educate women on how to make good, healthy choices for themselves and their families so they can feel empowered," Dahlgren-Roemmich said. "I want them to be knowledgeable so they can have that inner strength and feel strong in what they know and won't let anyone discourage them and value the choices they make."