Meet Our Staff
At BirthWise Maternity Care, LC, we are Direct-Entry Midwives.
If you are not familiar with the different types of midwives who practice in Utah, please scroll down to the bottom of the page for a more complete explanation.
All births are attended by at least one Midwife and one assistant, either a resident midwife or a registered nurse. We encourage you to meet all of the midwives and assistants during your prenatal visits. If one of our registered nurses or resident midwives provides prenatal or postpartum care for you, they closely coordinate care immediately afterward with one of the Midwives.
Resident Midwives are midwives who have completed all of the academic and clinical training required for certification and licensure but are awaiting testing or licensure or are in the process of transitioning into primary care. Because it is so important to have extensive and confident skills in the out-of-hospital setting, we believe that closely coordinated team care best prepares a new midwife and assures safe and skilled care to all our clients. We do not currently have a Resident Midwife participating in our practice.
Sometimes we will have students completing their training with us. All care is directly supervised by a midwife. We do not utilize students as assistants or second attendants.
Fara Bitter, CD, CPM, LDEM
Fara has been a Doula since 2000 and a Certified HypnoBirthing® Practitioner (CHP) since 2001. She is also a Certified Hypnobabies Doula (CD). She started her Midwifery Training in 1998 with the Midwives College of Utah and started her training with Heather in 2006. She became a Certified Professional Midwife and Licensed Direct-Entry Midwife early in 2015. She loves to provide personalized midwifery care to women and to empower them to have their best birth possible. She has attended over 150 births as an assistant, primary midwife under supervision or primary midwife. Fara has also served on the Utah Doula Association board as an Area Representative and is a past President of the Utah Friends of Midwives.
Fara has four children, all of whom were born at home. She enjoys spending time with her family, digital scrapbooking, making crafts with her daughters and photography.
Heather Johnston, RN, BSN, CPM, LDEM
Heather graduated from the Utah Association of Community Midwives in 1995, completed clinical training and began independent practice that same year. She has been a Certified Professional Midwife since 2002 and was in the first group of midwives to license in 2006. She has attended more than 900 births as the primary midwife.
Heather was involved in creating the licensing law and current practice rules for Utah midwives and served on the Licensed Direct-entry Midwives Advisory Board. Heather currently serves on the Occupational and Professional Licensure Review Committee.
She is a registered nurse and holds a Bachelor of Nursing Degree from Weber State University. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Nursing Practice in Nurse-Midwifery at the University of Utah and will be reducing her participation in the practice until May 2017. She has four children, all of whom were born at home.
Janell Peterson, BS, CPM, LDEM
Janell received training through guided study and the apprenticeship model
after completing a BS degree in Zoology through Weber State University. She has attended over 150 births, either as an assistant or as primary under supervision. Although she has been attending births since 1998, most have been since 2010. She became a Certified Professional Midwife and Licensed Direct-Entry Midwife in 2013.
Janell is married and enjoys camping, hiking, fishing, and other outdoor activities with her husband and spending time with family.
Heather Whitley, CPM, LDEM
Heather Whitley (aka "Whitley") has been serving birthing women since 2005. We are thrilled to have her join our staff! She graduated from the University of Vermont in 1996 with a degree in finance. She made a career change in 2005 when she decided to become a midwife and graduated from the Midwives College of Utah in 2010. She received her midwifery license in Vermont and attended both home and birth center births in Vermont and New Hampshire. In 2014 she moved to Utah with her family, where she has maintained a small private practice as well as working with other area midwives. She has attended approximately 200 births. Heather currently serves as the treasurer of the Utah Midwives' Organization and is a conference instructor for the Midwives' College of Utah.
Heather has five children and loves to spend time outdoors. In the winter you can find her in the mountains coaching youth alpine ski racing.
Melanie Connell, BS, BSN, RN
Melanie received a Bachelor's Degree from Brigham Young University several years ago, prior to raising her three children. She recently went back to school to pursue a life long dream of working with women during birth. She received her RN in 2013 and completed her Bachelor's in Nursing from Weber State University in 2014. Melanie attends births as a Birth Assistant and does many of our postpartum home visits. She helps with office work and manages our client accounts.
Melanie loves the beauty of natural birth and the options home birth provides parents. In her free time, she enjoys reading, sports, and spending time with her children and husband.
Different Types of Midwives
There are several different types of midwives attending births in Utah. For you the consumer, this can be somewhat confusing. At BirthWise we are Direct-Entry Midwives. Without obtaining a nursing degree first, a Direct-Entry Midwife is educated in the care of essentially normal women during the childbearing year and basic well-woman care. The education also includes well-care of newborns up to 6-8 weeks of age and lactation care at any age. Direct-Entry Midwifery is largely focused on pregnancy and birth care in the home or birth center setting.
The Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) certificate is the nationally recognized credential for Direct-Entry Midwives in the out-of-hospital setting. In Utah, CPMs can be licensed enabling them to carry prescription medications for conditions that may be encountered in the care of low-risk women and babies, such as hemorrhage medication and RhoGam for Rh negative women. This licensure is not mandatory and many Direct-Entry Midwives practice in Utah without certification or licensure.
This is different than a Certified Nurse Midwife, who has a nursing degree and then pursues a master's or doctorate level education in midwifery. Nurse-Midwives have full prescriptive privileges and are legally able to provide primary care throughout all aspects of a woman's lifecycle. Although Heather and Melanie are Registered Nurses, this does not mean that they are Certified Nurse-Midwives.
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