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Community Memorial Offers Ventura County's Only Collaborative Midwife Delivery Program

Mothers and Families Have Options & Support at Community Memorial Hospital - Ventura 

When it comes to bringing a new baby into the world, each mother and family has a unique vision for their labor and delivery experience. From delivering with the assistance of a certified nurse midwife instead of a doctor, to creating a calm, home-like atmosphere with soft lighting and soothing music, Community Memorial Hospital – Ventura gives mothers and families options for the environment and experience they want to create when the big day finally arrives. And no matter what your birthing preferences are, you can rest assured knowing our team of expert physicians, nurse-midwives, nurses, and neonatologists is standing by in case you need them.

In late 2023, Community Memorial launched its midwife program to support moms and families who prefer delivering their baby with the help of a midwife rather than a physician. The midwife program was started by Dr. David Crownover, the hospital’s Medical Director of Maternal Child Health, and Dr. Sally McNally, DNP, APRN, a certified nurse-midwife, women’s health nurse practitioner, and perinatal educator at Community Memorial.

Crownover and McNally – both of whom have decades of experience working with expectant mothers – believe a seasoned staff that’s willing to collaborate with patients while keeping safety top of mind in is one of the most important factors to consider when deciding where to deliver your baby.

“We are the only facility in Ventura County that has obstetricians and midwives working hand-in-hand in the hospital,” said Dr. Crownover. “In many places, doctors and midwives are in competition and not collaborating. We don’t see it that way. We all want our patients and families to have good experiences.”

At Community Memorial, women who prefer a midwife-assisted delivery also enjoy the added assurance of delivering at the state-of-the-art Ventura hospital instead of a birth center or private home. “It’s important to be prepared and safe,” Dr. Crownover added. “If a complication arises, the hospital offers layers of safety including fully-equipped operating suites and our Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.”

How does a Certified Nurse Midwife differ from an Obstetrician/Gynecologist?

A Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is an advanced-practice registered nurse with a master’s degree or higher, who completes comprehensive training and provides care for all women of all ages throughout their lives. CNMs focus on gynecologic and family planning services, as well as preconception, pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and newborn care. CNMs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) and are backed by The American College of Nurse Midwives. An Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN) is a board-certified physician and surgeon focused on maternal healthcare and labor and delivery.

Midwives offer a holistic approach to labor and delivery. “The physician might use a medical model for delivery. Midwives honor the mind-body connection in a different way,” McNally explained. “Physicians may use procedures or interventions, but as midwives we try not to manage the labor as much. We let the patient be the guide as long as it’s safe, stepping in with interventions when needed.”

“As a midwife, I might suggest breathing techniques and let the woman guide the pushing aspect of labor, with less emphasis on using medication,” said McNally. “Or, I’ll encourage the woman to choose her preferred delivery position – perhaps standing, on her hands and knees, and not lying on her back.”

Midwives also help the family create a customized, home-like atmosphere in their private labor and delivery room. Parents are encouraged to bring in their own music, essential oils, or string lights to make the room feel special. Midwives are experts in normal and natural labor and delivery, whereas Obstetricians are experts in high risk. When a patient has access to both, they can relax and plan the birth they desire.

Who is a candidate for a midwife delivery at Community Memorial Hospital?

Women with low-risk pregnancies and many higher-risk women can use a midwife. Examples of higher-risk pregnant women are those with high blood pressure or diabetes, or women delivering twins. In higher-risk cases, an OB/GYN manages the medical issues while the midwife guides the labor and delivery. If an emergency C-section becomes necessary, the midwife is there in the operating room as the first assist during the surgery. This means there is constant support and continuity of care.

“At Community Memorial, women don’t have to choose between a doctor and a midwife, they can have both working together to meet all their needs.” said McNally.

For those looking for midwife support throughout their pregnancy, many Community Memorial Health Centers offer pre- and post-natal care with CNMs. A CNM should not be confused with a doula. Doulas provide labor support and advocacy but are not nurses and cannot provide medical interventions. Community Memorial also welcomes doulas to support moms and families through the labor & delivery process in the hospital.

Visit to learn more about the Maternal Child Health program at Community Memorial Hospital – Ventura.