Katherine O’Reilly, CNM
OB/GYN & Midwifery Services
SCL Health Medical Group
Katherine O’Reilly has worked at both ends of the life spectrum. Currently a midwife for SCL Health Medical Group for OB/GYN & Midwifery, she’s had the distinct privilege of welcoming hundreds of babies into the world over the last three and a half years. Prior to this, Katherine worked in home health and hospice, serving families who were saying their final goodbyes. “People often think that birth and death are so different but they’re really not. In both cases, people are at their most vulnerable. It’s about allowing people to maintain their dignity, whether they’re bringing in life or coming to life’s end.” In both cases, Katherine has been able to offer anticipatory guidance helping patients understand what to expect, and feels it’s an immense privilege people would choose her to come alongside and help them.
Katherine started training for massage therapy right out of high school, working at a spa and then owning her own massage practice. This work allowed her further her education as she commuted from Moab to Price, Utah for nursing school. Little did she know at the time that her training and skills in massage would someday be a useful asset alongside midwifery, and she acknowledges: “Massage is a huge comfort to both pregnant and laboring mothers. They love it!”
After nursing school, Katherine continued to build her career, managing a community nursing service in Moab while working on her master’s degree. Once she was accepted into the didactic portion of her master’s program she began work at HopeWest Hospice in Grand Junction while living in Moab. She traveled to Ohio for five months to complete her midwifery clinicals and then began work at Mesa County Health Department, providing services such as well-women’s care, family planning and STD treatment.
What was once Monument Women’s Health has undergone a transition over the past few years. Katherine comments, “Seeing SCL buy it and how much we’ve been able to grow this practice since, has been so phenomenal!” SCL Health Medical Group for OB/GYN & Midwifery, currently employs five OB/GYN physicians and five CNMs. Certified nurse midwifes are dual-certified as registered nurses with an emphasis in midwifery. Focusing on the normal physiological aspects of pregnancy, the midwives at SCL Health Medical Group for OB/GYN see the majority of the practice’s OB patients. Their training enables them to recognize when risks come up so they can collaborate care with the team of in-house OB/GYNs, consulting outside maternal fetal medicine when more specialized care is needed. “We have such fabulous relationships where we really work well together to co-manage patients as needed,” says Katherine.
Part of the growth the practice has seen over the past few years includes an increasing number of babies delivered. While the doctors and midwives collectively performed 405 deliveries in 2019, just last year they saw that number jump up to over 550 deliveries. “We try to individualize women’s care throughout their obstetrical and then labor and delivery experience,” explains Katherine.
“We try to make a nice, calm, relaxing environment and always educate women on all of the comfort care measures available to them: the bathtub, birthing ball, squat bar, different bed positions, massage, heat, ice, physical movement, and of course the pharmacological medications such as IV meds or an epidural. I think it’s important for women to know what tools are in their toolbox. And then let them guide their care because this is their journey.”
Katherine shares some of the team values when it comes to labor and delivery, such as the practice of delayed cord clamping which allows baby to get all the blood back from the placenta, delaying the first bath to help with baby’s family bonding and the importance of skin-to-skin contact. Breastfeeding is encouraged and St. Mary’s Hospital, the sole delivery site for SCL Health’s Medical Group for OB/GYN, houses a great team of lactation consultants who offer breastfeeding support, available even after moms go home from the hospital.
Katherine cares deeply about educating families about the very real perinatal mood disorders, which include depression, anxiety, OCD tendencies and psychoses, citing that women are at risk for several years after giving birth, not just immediately following delivery, and that men are often affected as well. She explains that issues surrounding bonding with baby, mood disorders, and the stigma surrounding these issues “are much more common than people realize, and one of my desires is to take away the stigma and to normalize them by holding that space so it’s safe to talk.”
Training received by both physicians and midwives prepares them to walk women through all stages of life. Katherine expresses the joy her work brings her: “It is seriously such an honor to help these women from preconception all the way through menopause. Our job is to guide them through each phase.”
The OB/GYN & Midwifery providers at SCL Health Medical Group are accepting new patients. To learn more, call their office directly at 970.298.9600 or visit their website at sclhealth.org to schedule an appointment.