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Billings Clinic parts way with midwives; one Billings mother calls it a problem

Not even two years after Billings Clinic brought on the midwives, all four submitted resignation letters citing restrictions on their independent practices.
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Posted at 4:53 PM, Feb 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-16 12:07:39-05

BILLINGS - When Sierra Williams embarked on her third pregnancy at Billings Clinic, she says, the hospital only had one obstetrician, so she was paired up with a midwife for care.

It wasn’t exactly the path she originally thought she’d go.

“I have been a Billings Clinic patient through and through,” she said. “Our whole family goes there, and they put me with the midwife group at least temporarily.”

That’s because Billings Clinic hired a midwife team in the summer of 2022, after an influx in requests from patients.

Williams liked having an option in her care, considering her pregnancies were never easy.

But she was nervous.

Her past experiences and two previous C-sections left her in a ball of nerves, but she told her midwife her wishes.

“I don’t want to have another C-section if I can avoid it, the recovery is really hard,” she said.

So she and her midwife decided to try a natural birth, Williams said the plan was always to be patient and go slow and low.

“I think that was the difference,” she said. “I wasn’t a number being pushed through the system to have my baby and move on. I felt like a person.”

Williams welcomed her third son, Samuel, in January of 2023 and says it was an experience she always dreamed of, delivering naturally for the first time after she says she was told previously she couldn't.

 “She (midwife) looked at me and said, 'I know that you can do it, but do you know that you can do it?'” she recalls. “And that was such a big moment for me.”

Williams’ experience won’t be a reality for the women currently under pregnancy care at Billings Clinic.

Not even two years after Billings Clinic brought on the midwives, who performed 382 births, all four submitted resignation letters, citing restrictions on their independent practices.

Meanwhile, Billings Clinic says it’s now fully staffed with five full-time obstetricians.

Billings Clinic saying they anticipate resuming midwifery services.

 “We are in the process right now of honoring the resignations and transitioning the patients to our OBGYN providers,” said Shannon Holland.

Holland serves as chief nursing officer for Billings Clinic and said she couldn’t speak about the reasoning surrounding the resignation of all the Billings Clinic midwives.

“I do not have the details as to why they resigned,” she said. “But all of the midwives have resigned.”

The midwives said in a collective statement given to MTN News that the resignation is due to circumstances beyond their control and administrative decisions that restricted their independent practice.

“I absolutely think it’s a money thing 100 percent,” said Williams. “I think Billings Clinic is having troubles.”

The midwives stated they originally wanted to be done in mid-March to help transition patients to a new provider, but Billings Clinic announced to their team that their clinic services would no longer be needed after Feb. 16.

 “I think they still want to have a midwifery program, but they want it the way they (Billings Clinic) want it,” said Williams. “They don’t like what the midwives are doing, and I don’t understand why.”

 Holland says she has much respect for midwives explaining that all the clinical services Billings Clinic offers are all important to her.

“We utilize a care team model and so we have our OBGYN providers and our nurse midwives that work as a complement in a care team model,” she said.

 According to Billings Clinic’s website, certified nurse midwives practice in homes, birth centers, clinics, and hospitals. The majority of CNMs attend deliveries in a hospital setting. They have a full-scope practice, seeing women from adolescence to menopause in addition to providing obstetric care.

The conflict is now leaving pregnant women in a lurch.

 Billings Clinic anticipates that of all their patients seeking maternal healthcare, 25% to 30% of them were using services from midwives.

 The midwives say that number is closer to 33%.

 The midwives also said in their statement: “We hope that all the patients find what they need for their birth and wish them the best. We look forward to what is to come in this community.”

Williams has a call to action for any expecting mothers out there trying to decide on their future course of care.

 “Now all these moms who have built this trust with this amazing group of women are left being like, what am I going to do?” said Williams.

 After her own birthing experience with the Billings Clinic midwives, she says women should feel empowered.

“I would counsel women to know their options,” she said.