The baby was almost there. The lights were low. As her granddaughter labored, the grandmother bent her head and prayed.
“It was really inspiring,” said Cathy Berkovitz. “It gave us all positive energy that continued throughout the birth.”
Such moments are what make being a nurse-midwife rewarding, says Cathy.
Cathy says she's working her "dream job" at the hospital. Cathy is a certified nurse-midwife, or CNM. Certified nurse-midwives are nurses who have special training for pregnancy and birth.
Cathy is one of five CNMs who provide 24-hour coverage in our hospital's maternity ward.
“I have a passion for women’s health,” says Cathy. “Babies can’t talk, so I want to be their voice. I want to help moms help their babies and give them the best possible start to life.”
Cathy grew up with a single mother. Her mother “struggled every day to make ends meet” in their rural Wisconsin fishing town. Because of her childhood, she explains, “I knew I wanted to help the underserved.”
Cathy holds a Master of Science in Nursing, or MSN, degree.
Cathy thinks MLKCH is providing some of the best maternity care—not only in Los Angeles, but in the nation.
“What we are doing in this small community hospital is what hospitals should be doing everywhere,” she explains. “We trust the process. We are patient. We don’t rush. We give moms the time they need to deliver their babies.”
Midwives allow women to labor on their own time. They avoid artificial hormones and surgical tools to speed contractions. This is one reason why MLKCH has one of the lowest rates of C-sections in the nation. In 2017, our C-section rate was 12.7% compared to the national average of 27.1%.
“We use methods that have been studied and found to be the safest for mom and baby,” says Cathy.
Those methods include:
- Skin-to-skin contact between mother and child immediately after birth
- Delayed cord clamping, to maintain the nutritional bond between mother and child
- No-pressure, safe laboring that avoids artificial ways of trying to speed up birth
- 24-hour shifts—so a mother is never without care and support.
- Calming lighting in delivery rooms, to soothe new moms and babies
Then there are the facilities.
“This is a brand-new hospital,” says Cathy. “The delivery rooms are a large size, the colors are warm and not sterile. It’s more inviting than many places I’ve worked.”
Best of all, Cathy says the MLKCH maternity staff are “more like friends and family.”
“We have a very close working relationship and we trust each and we support each other. If you trust and support each other, it gives you confidence to do the best possible work. That’s what makes us really strong here.”