GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — “I just didn’t feel like a number,” said Morgan Rademacher, who welcomed both of her children into the world with a midwife by her side.

“I always felt heard, respected, that all my concerns were addressed,” Rademacher, who delivered at Spectrum Health Butterworth and Pennock hospitals, said. “I felt that I got the time, during my appointments, during delivery when the midwife was present.”

It’s experiences like Rademacher’s that sparked the expansion of similar services to other parts of West Michigan, particularly along the lakeshore at Spectrum Health Zeeland Community Hospital.

A midwife works closely with physicians and nurses to provide general health care services, gynecology care and more before, during and after childbirth. They have degrees in advanced practice nursing and are licensed with the state through the American Midwifery Certification Board.

At this time, 20 certified nurse-midwives are employed throughout Spectrum Health. As more people use these services, the hospital system is expanding to Spectrum Health Medical Group OB/GYN Holland and Zeeland office locations. Spectrum Health hopes to expand to more practitioners in the future. 

With nearly 20 years as a nurse, certified nurse-midwife Katie Steele has spent 15 of them in the labor and delivery department. Steele is now the first nurse to provide midwifery services along the lakeshore.

“I just really have loved that world for a long time,” said Steele.

She says said discovered midwifery when looking to expand her career in that specific field of care. 

“I’m really excited to bring that to my community,” she said.

On Monday afternoon, Steele joined the WOOD TV8 Live Desk to explain her role as a midwife. Services including birth control and family planning, pregnancy and childbirth services for low-risk pregnancies, individual and group prenatal care, menopause management and more.

But those services expand beyond basic maternity care — both Steele and Rademacher said it was the relationships built with a midwife that ease a patient’s experience.

“I will absolutely continue to see a midwife,” Rademacher said.

She encourages everyone who may be interested to see how a midwife could fit into your family’s needs.

“It feels like a partnership, it’s a team approach,” Rademacher said.