Interview with Abby & Gina of Community Midwifery CARE in NYC
Today on the blog, we are so thrilled to introduce you to Gina Eichenbaum-Pikser and
Abby Brown who are both Certified Nurse Midwives. They provide a full range of midwifery services here in New York City in their private practice Community Midwifery Care. Gina and Abby offer a full range of midwifery services including everything from prenatal visits, labor & birth care, and postpartum visits, in addition to well person GYN care & annual exams, family planning, STI screening, fertility counseling & initial fertility work-ups, at-home intrauterine insemination.
I had the opportunity to speak with them about their work, their passion and what they enjoy about catching babies in NYC. Read our full interview below!
Baby Caravan (BC): What brought you into midwifery work? What's your inspiration behind supporting mothers and babies?
Gina (G): My parents used midwives for their two pregnancies/births. I grew up hearing our birth stories and how well cared for my mom felt by her midwives. To this day she will tell you verbatim what her midwife said to her to help her through transition. Hearing those stories as a child was powerful. As an undergraduate student I was involved in several on-campus groups working in women’s health and sexual health and realized it was a topic I was passionate about and wanted to pursue. I loved that midwifery was both scientific and political, that it was a profession devoted to personal, individual care and also to radical social change. Then once I saw my first birth I was really a goner --- totally hooked!
Abby (A): When I was a kid my cat got pregnant. I was obsessed, read all about cat pregnancy and birth and made all of these preparations for her delivery (made a warm dark safe space for her to take the kittens etc) and then followed her around and basically doula-ed her while she was in labor…so in retrospect the signs were there early on. Fast-forward 18 years: I was enrolled in the Family Nurse Practitioner graduate program at Yale. During my maternal health rotation one of my midwifery student colleagues gave me her copy of Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth to read, which was transformative for me. Then later that month I saw my first (human) baby born during my clinical rotation I thought it was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. Something clicked in my head and I thought ‘This is the only thing I want to do, ever.’ I switched to the midwifery program and never looked back. It’s definitely a calling for me.
My inspiration is that every part of midwifery care (prenatal care, birth, sexual health, contraception, etc) involves helping women find their power, which I love being involved in and is especially needed in these dark political times.
BC: How's it going delivering patients at Mt Sinai West? What type of birth amenities can families find at this hospital?
We believe Mt Sinai West is the best place to have a baby in New York City if you’re going to have a hospital birth. We love that the Birthing Center is its own little sanctuary, completely removed from the hustle and bustle of the Labor & Delivery floor, yet only a quick elevator ride away should you need to be transferred for any reason.
The nursing staff in both the Birth Center and the Labor and Birth floor have been wonderful and a pleasure to work with. Families in the Birthing Center have access to nitrous oxide, a jacuzzi tub to labor, intermittent fetal monitoring, and plenty of space to move around in labor and even when we’ve had patients that have needed to be on the labor floor for one reason or another the nursing staff have been wonderful providing labor support and helping clients stay mobile and out of bed even if they need to be on continuous monitoring.
BC: What does your services include?
We offer a full range of midwifery services ---- prenatal visits, labor and birth care, and postpartum visits as well as well person gyn care/annual exams, family planning, STI screening, fertility counseling and initial fertility work-ups, at-home intrauterine insemination.
BC: What's your favorite part about being a midwife?
A: I have lots of favorite parts! I love the relationship that we form with our clients and their families over the course of the pregnancy that culminates in getting to be there when they meet their baby. I love that midwifery is an art and a science so I’m constantly learning and updating my clinical knowledge as well as picking up new tricks to help in pregnancy and labor that come with experience.
G: It’s funny, everyone assumes the best part is the babies. It’s not! I love the babies but for me the best part of being a midwife is watching the incredible power of laboring women and the privilege of being a witness to their transformation into mothers. The very first moment a parent and baby meet is incredible and I get to be there for it! That’s the best part.
5. For families preparing for their birth, what's the best advice you have for them?
G: Be as prepared as possible and then let whatever happens happen. Labor and birth are not something that can be controlled or pre-determined, which is why it’s so important to have a provider/team you fully trust and feel comfortable with. Also, take a childbirth ed class that includes a section on coping with labor pain, if you’re thinking about an unmedicated birth. And hire a doula!!
A: Basically what Gina said. Be an educated consumer. Figure out what is important to you for your labor and birth experience, find a health care provider who you like and trust that values the same things you do and then on day you have your baby trust them and turn yourself over to the process.
BC: What’s your best advice for preparing for newborn parenthood?
A: NYC can be a uniquely intense place to be a parent…both random folks on the street and acquaintances often feel free to offer their opinion on how you are caring for your child. Know that you and your baby are two unique individuals who will have a unique relationship and you will figure out what works for you both. You will rapidly become the world’s leading expert on your particular baby. If anyone tries to make you feel bad, tell them to f- off (or some slightly more polite version of that)! Also, new mom support groups are great for establishing community and getting to commiserate with people who are going through the same life stage that you are!
G: The adage “it takes a village” is for real. Get your postpartum team ready now --- set up a meal train, make sure your community is feeding you. Don’t let anyone think it’s ok to come visit empty handed or expecting to be hosted by you. Visitors should come with food in hand ready to clean the bathroom or your dishes or hold the baby while you shower/nap etc.
BC: What are you reading, listening to, or inspired by recently?
G: We were both just recently gifted Barbara Katz Rothman’s new book “A Bun in the Oven” which is a super interesting comparison of midwifery/ the natural birth movement and the slow/ natural/ local food movement. I’ve also been watching The Handmaid’s Tale, simultaneously enjoying it and completely freaked out by it. Pairs well with the Democracy Now! Podcast, which is my go-to for news and current events.
A: I’m reading “Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk” by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. I love old school punk music (NY Dolls, Richard Hell, etc) and a lot of it takes place in my old/favorite neighborhood, the East Village. I’m also listening to Pod Save America.
About Community Midwifery Care
Gina Eichenbaum-Pikser has been a Certified Nurse-Midwife since graduating from the Columbia University School of Nursing in 2008. Her decision to become a midwife came from a deep-seated belief in social justice, feminism, and the power of human connection as well as a profound awe of the human body. A life-long New Yorker, she currently lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Abby Brown has been a Certified Nurse Midwife since 2007. She received her midwifery degree from Yale University School of Nursing and her undergraduate degree in psychology from Smith College. She decided to become a midwife after seeing a woman give birth for the first time and found it to be the craziest best thing she’d ever seen. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and their two children.
You can reach Community Midwifery at firstname.lastname@example.org or on their website www.communitymidwifery.com