Midwifery is a transformative experience
Being a midwife is much more than delivering babies; it is an opportunity to be a part of women’s health journeys throughout the lifespan. Midwives provide a wide range of healthcare services that support women through the joy and trauma of childbirth, decisions around family planning and sexual and reproductive health, and the life change of going through menopause. Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Nurse-Midwifery ‘14 alumni Jenny Rose Wilson shares her path into a midwife as a transformative experience.
After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Seattle Pacific University, she worked in high-risk obstetrics before moving to Western China’s Tibetan plateau. While in China, she studied Mandarin, built relationships with Hui Muslim and Amdo Tibetan communities, participated in disaster relief, and witnessed births in the local hospitals. These experiences exposed her to the challenges and complexities of maternal health, especially in remote and culturally diverse contexts. This led her to pursue more training in maternal health through the DNP in Nurse-Midwifery program at UW School of Nursing.
“I knew this program would uniquely equip me for work in low resource and marginalized settings, credential me to teach, develop strong leadership skills, and provide effective tools for implementing research into evidence-based practice,” reflected Jenny Rose. “From classroom instruction, to mentorship by my capstone committee, to excellent clinical preceptorships, I am so grateful for the support I received on my journey from theory to practice.”
Upon graduation, Jenny Rose worked for nearly six years at Neighborcare Health at Rainier Beach in Seattle, where she faced unique challenges working with primarily low-income immigrant and refugee communities. Their practice cared for women who had survived gunshot wounds, were victims of war crimes and gender-based violence, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and even limb amputations prior to becoming pregnant.
“Imagine carrying those challenges and injuries into the experience of birth, breastfeeding, and caring for a newborn – often while navigating language barriers, and with limited community support, “said Jenny Rose.
The most recent birth she attended was with an East African woman who had crippling fear of dying in childbirth because her own mother died giving birth to her. They worked through that fear together and watched her emerge from what turned out to be a beautiful birth with a healthy baby, and a powerful experience of generational healing.
Working as a Nurse Midwife gives Jenny Rose the gift of proximity to people’s lives drastically different from hers – people affected by xenophobia, racial profiling, religious oppression, war, gun violence, police violence – not to mention mental and physical health challenges that manifest all the more in communities disproportionately affected by poverty and oppression in all its forms. Her patient’s lives tell stories of pain but also resilience and hope framed by the joys and fears that come with bringing the next generation into the world.
In the summer of 2021, Jenny Rose is off on a new adventure. She will be working for the next year with Seed Global Health as a Midwife Educator on a new contract with the Sierra Leonean government to help support and restructure midwifery education in the coming years. One of the country’s top priorities is to improve maternal and infant mortality rates, which are among the highest in the world.
Being a midwife is more than helping a woman give birth.
“It’s not only about safeguarding the moment of birth itself but bearing witness to the full journey of women through their reproductive years,” said Jenny Rose. “As a midwife, you will bear witness to the most profound, joyful, raw, and life-changing moments your patients will ever experience. You will walk with families through tragedy too. It will demand more of you than you ever thought you were capable of and will help you find your voice in advocating for the vulnerable. I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything.”