Manassas Midwives Honored in Richmond

| November 12, 2013 | 0 Comments | Community

Sheila Mathis, CNM, and Kathleen McClelland, CNM, of Manassas Midwifery & Women’s Health Center, were presented the Birth Matters Virginia 2013 Birth Advocate of the Year Award, North Region, at the non-profit’s annual meeting at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond on Nov. 3.

The event also honored Dr. Donna Vinal, the only certified nurse midwife in the Charlottesville area with hospital admitting privileges; Debbi Meslar-Little, CPM, of Augusta Health Care For Women in Fisherville and Neldara Dowell, CNM and Blair Conger, CNM, who operate a midwifery center within the Depaul Medical Center in Norfolk.

Mathis and McClelland operate the non-profit Manassas Midwifery with the primary mission to provide high quality, affordable care for women who are uninsured, underinsured and women who are Medicaid eligible. Since opening their doors four years ago, they have served more than 535 women through prenatal care who have giving birth in area hospitals or in a nearby birth center.

They introduced Centering Pregnancy, an innovative model of prenatal care for women in a group setting, to the Prince William area through a grant from the March of Dimes. Another generous grant from the Potomac Health Foundation allowed them to open a second location a year ago in Dumfries, where they provide midwifery and offer the innovative Centering Parenting model of care. Their gynecology practice at both locations has increased.

At this time, Mathis and McClelland have not been granted privileges to practice at the local hospital in Manassas. Since they are unable to attend the births of their clients, they have a volunteer doula program so that their moms and families are fully supported throughout their labor and birthing experiences. One of their champions is Amy Bookwalter, CD (DONA), whose Rosebud Doula and Pregnancy Lifestyle Consulting was honored in the Washington, DC metro area by The Red Tricycle’s 2013 Totally Awesome Awards.

Certified nurse midwife and honoree Sheila Mathis with her husband, Derrick Mathis, co-owners of the non-profit Manassas Midwifery & Women’s Health Center.

“It was through Manassas Midwifery that I got the chance to serve an Hispanic mother who confided in me that this was the first time she ever received prenatal care; that before she simply walked into the hospital in labor and gave birth,” said volunteer doula Sharon Hamon-Boomer. “She told me how scary it was to go without prenatal care, and to walk into the hospital where no one knows her, her story, her fears, or even her language. How amazing is it that these women now have an option because of Manassas Midwifery, a place that cares about their wants, needs and cultures?”

Abby Epstein, co-author of “Your Best Birth,” and co-director of the documentaries “The Business of Being Born” and the upcoming “Breastmilk: The Movie,” delivered the keynote address and engaged the assembly in a conversation about helping to change the culture of birth in Virginia.

In accepting the award on behalf of Mathis and herself, McClelland shared that she and Mathis first met when McClelland arranged for Mathis’ Northern Virginia Community College nursing students to attend a screening of Epstein’s film, “The Business of Being Born.”

Now Epstein offered McClelland and the other midwives advice about advocating change in their communities.

From right, honoree Kathleen McClelland with her husband Dan Nellis (left) and keynote speaker and film director Abby Epstein of "The Business of Being Born."

“All it takes is one person to change the birth culture,” Epstein said. “Look around and find those practices at small or large city hospitals – like Norfolk – where the obstetricians are supportive and it really is working to have midwives on the front line. Show the administrators these models and explain how they are going to increase their profits, because more women who want to be attended by midwives will choose their facility. It’s going to work for everybody.”

Established in 2002, Birth Matters Virginia is a statewide non-profit comprised of 11 chapters, including Birth Matters Virginia’s Prince William Chapter, which meets in small gatherings called “Birth Circles,” the second Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. at Manassas Midwifery, 8421 Dorsey Circle, Manassas. The next Birth Circle is November 14. Women of all ages, especially pregnant women and new mothers are invited to share stories, ask advice, and offer support. Additionally, the chapter educates the community about evidence-based care for women at information fairs, library displays and educational seminars.

For more information, visit or join the open group, Birth Matters Virginia Prince William Chapter on Facebook.

© 2013, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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