An Interview with Karen Nguyen, CNM with Winchester Women's Specialist

An Interview with Karen Nguyen, CNM with Winchester Women's Specialist

For the longest time Karen was one of the only practicing CNMs delivering at Winchester Medical Center. We are very excited that that has changed in the last several months. As someone who supports women and their childbirth choices, we wanted to take sometime to spot light Karen and the wonderful Midwife and addition she is to our community. Karen works with Winchester Women's Specialist as a CNM along with Sarah Werner, CNM and several OBs.

Why did you choose Midwifery?

I think midwifery actually chose me. I was happy working as a nurse in Obstetrics and especially in the NICU. I raised my children in a wholistic manner and loved natural birth and breastfeeding. The hospital was home to me since I was a nurse. When I heard in 1997 that Shenandoah University was starting a midwifery masters degree I was encouraged by my husband to go for it. I was accepted in the first class and the rest is history.

How was it being the only CNM delivering at WMC for a long time?

Being accepted as a Nurse Midwife was the biggest challenge I have ever had.  Winchester Medical Center has rules in place for a CNM to practice but even meeting the the regulations so I could practice was not enough to be accepted by the medical community. To say there have been struggles along the way with a tough group of OB/ GYNs would be an extreme understatement. There were so many times I could have packed it up and said "I'm done with this"... but then there were the mothers- counting on me to provide them the birth that they desired. Along my journey in Winchester I have established a substantial number of families who I love to serve. It actually has a hint of being overwhelming. I do my absolute best and I am most grateful to see more CNMs being accepted as part of the OB/GYN staff -with open arms.  The days of fighting for the right to practice, I hope, are behind me.

Were you a big part of bringing Sarah Werner, CNM, on as part of the staff at Winchester Women's Specialist?

Having two CNMs at my practice is monumental. The MDs there are open minded and a great resource for any CNM. I feel blessed to have found Sarah and I am glad to have her side by side on this journey as Midwifery sisters. She's a bit of the younger version of me.

What is your favorite part about Midwifery?

Watching a growing family embracing their new baby for the first time. I am overjoyed to be there for this moment and watch it unfold. Anyone can learn Midwife skills. But not everyone has the emotional connection that birth provides. I don't underestimate my role but feel that the mother is the center of it all, and I am there to keep her space as sacred as I can. And nothing feels better than holding a wet little baby in your hands and feeling that first cry come out of them.

 Do you enjoy working with Doulas? 

Sure.  I have seen the good things that a doula can do to help a mother along her birth journey. I like the preparation the doulas provide before a baby comes and the continued support that comes afterwards. It's like having a wonderful big sister with you.

What is something unique about you as a Midwife? 


 I care for both low and high risk pregnancies. I enjoy caring for high-risk patients and giving midwifery care even when everything else must be medically managed. I have had two VBACs and I am passionate about keeping VBAC as an option for mothers who choose it. I LOVE breastfeeding- especially counselling women who nurse toddlers. I also don't think people realize that I had completed most of my midwifery training delivering babies at home in the Greater DC area.  That experience was invaluable. I thought about home birth practice when I first finished, but I knew that would limit the women I would care for.  Entering the hospital birth arena allows me to care for women who least think they would want a midwife. The ripple effect is incredible.

What is your favorite thing to do in Winchester during your free time?

When I'm not working I'm spending quality time with my family.  I enjoy working out, hiking, running tough mudders, baking, wine tasting and playing with my granddaughter-MOST OF ALL!

I'm simple- So life's simple pleasures are what I look forward to.

Were do you see WMC and Midwifery in the coming years?

Midwifery finally has a strong presence at WMC. There will be more Midwives and more options for  the natural birth experience. Breaking down the walls have been done. We are rebuilding a Childbirth philosophy caring for women in her own manner. Having each experience being individual, safe, and rewarding is the goal. We have incredible MDs at WMC and an administration that supports us fully.  What more could our community ask for?