Sandusky's one and only Midwife

SANDUSKY Laura Griffaw wants to dispel the myth that all midwives deliver babies naturally at home. As a certified nur
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Laura Griffaw wants to dispel the myth that all midwives deliver babies naturally at home.

As a certified nurse-midwife, Griffaw delivers babies the same way all physicians do -- in a hospital.

The main differences between certified nurse-midwives and obstetric physicians are their levels of education and their methods delivering babies, she said.

Certified nurse-midwives do not perform any surgical or gynecological procedures, such as Caesarian sections. In case of a surgical emergency, a physician could always be called.

Certified nurse-midwives also provide prenatal and postpartum care to women as well as normal gynecological services.

And if pain medication is needed?

She can order it anytime -- 24 hours a day.

"A lot of people coming in are assuming I will deliver at home ... and that's not the case," she said.

"Once we get through (the myths), the women are really excited. It changes their idea."

Griffaw has been introducing herself and her services to patients since she started at Northern Ohio Medical Specialists in April. She is the only midwife in the area. Griffaw knows of only one other certified nurse-midwife in Tiffin.

"She brings something to the community that we don't currently have," said Brian Printy, a physician at Northern Ohio Medical Specialists.

"We're happy this brings a new service to the area," he added.

On Monday, Griffaw met with new parents-to-be Ray and Elaine Chappell of Norwalk. Shaking hands with the couple, Griffaw introduced herself as a midwife. Pointing to her nametag, Elaine Chappell asked what the initials CNM stood for.

"Certified nurse-midwife," Griffaw replied in a soft, friendly tone.

After explaining the differences between herself and a physician, Griffaw pulled out an ultrasound Doppler to listen to the baby's heartbeat. The echoing thumps of the baby's heartbeat filled the room.

"I love that sound," said Elaine Chappell, 27, while her husband sat beside her.

Leaving the room after meeting with Griffaw, the young couple agreed they had inaccurate notions about midwives.

Ray Chappell, 28, said he correlated midwives with rural settings and his wife believed midwives only made house calls.

A few years ago, hospital officials conducted a market analysis and discovered that women in the area were interested in having the option of a female midwife to deliver babies.

"I think it's a wonderful opportunity to be able to provide this here," Printy said about adding Griffaw to the all-male practice.

Griffaw began her career 10 years ago as a registered nurse working in labor and delivery at Mercy Hospital of Tiffin. She said many midwives usually begin their careers as registered nurses first.

Deep down, Griffaw believes she's always known this would be her career path, but it wasn't apparent until she started her family.

"Having my own children made me very interested," said Griffaw, who has three children and delivered the younger two at home with midwives.

Because she had such wonderful experiences with the midwives who delivered her children, she wanted to be able to share the same with others.

"Her touch was just different ... it was more feminine."

Griffaw said she was certain this was the route she should take and applied at Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing in Hyden, Ky. To become certified, Griffaw had to graduate from a nurse-midwifery program accredited by the American College of Nurse Midwives and pass a national certification exam. Certified nurse-midwives are educated in nursing and midwifery and can practice anywhere in the United States.

In November 2002, Griffaw began her midwifery classes at Frontier School and graduated three years later.

She moved to Fort Myers, Fla., following graduation where she became the director of midwifery services at a local practice. She delivered 209 babies during her time there.

But the Florida heat and the distance from her family gave her the incentive to try to move back closer to home. She contacted Northern Ohio Medical Specialists in January and flew in for an interview a few weeks later. She moved back to her hometown of Clyde in March and began work at the practice April 1.

Griffaw said her services are covered by insurance companies and she will either be billed under the physician's name or her own.

Griffaw cannot begin deliveries until she gets her credentials renewed in Ohio, which she hopes to have complete mid-month.

"I'm ready to get started ... to get back into it again," she said.

Printy said he is excited about the future of the practice.

"We think this is a win, win, win."