With our Austin Midwife Spotlight series, we’re giving our beloved midwives an outlet to express why they love what they do. Today, we’re spotlighting Joanne Chiwaula, RN, CNM, MSc. Joanne did her undergraduate studies at Brown University and obtained her RN, MSc and CNM from the University of California, San Francisco. She spent more than nine years in Africa, first practicing as a midwife in Malawi, then teaching nursing and midwifery in Ghana. Joanne remains passionate about pregnancy care in Africa and started her own nonprofit to support mothers there – African Mothers Health Initiative.
What, in your opinion, separates a true birth center from a hospital birth experience?
It is not the location that makes the difference but the policies and practice. AABC is an accredited birth center providing true midwifery care.
How does the level of personal care differ between an OB/GYN and an AABC midwife?
Midwives believe that healthy pregnancies and normal deliveries are best supported when care is provided in partnership with women and their families. This means that midwives prioritize active participation of women and their partners. Midwives strive to do as much or more listening as educating and evaluating. Simply put, women more time with the midwife prenatally (i.e. longer visits) than they would with an OB, midwives also strive to be accessible to the families in their care.
How does AABC being around for 28 years set it apart from other birth centers? Is there something about it that’s unique to the fabric of Austin?
The longevity of the birth center is something very special. It is well known and respected by Austin women but it is also known and respected by other obstetric practices in Austin. In the cases when women must transfer, midwives at AABC are allowed admitting privileges.
Why did you want to become a midwife? How do those ideals guide your work today?
I studied international development in my undergrad and I wanted to provide compassionate care to women who needed it most.
What’s your favorite part about working at AABC?
It is wonderful working with a group of kind intelligent women who practice evidence based care and strive to provide the best care for their clients. I love having the freedom to provide true family centered care. AABC is a beautiful place to work and to deliver.
What advice do you have for moms choosing where to have their birth?
You should choose a setting where you feel safe and where you trust your providers.