SPECIAL HONORS: Midwife
This article is a sneak peek from our 2017 Top Docs issue, on newsstands now.
Leslie Fehan (left), nurse midwife at VCU Health System with patient Nyesha Nicholas and her 3-year-old son, Josiah (Photo by Jay Paul)
Whether it’s assisting with challenging labors, waking up to 2 a.m. pages or working long hours, being a midwife can be challenging. But for certified nurse midwife Leslie Fehan, getting to experience the miracle of birth over and over again makes itall worthwhile.
Fehan, 53, has been an esteemed midwife in the Richmond area for nearly two decades. She started with VCU Health System in 1998, then moved on to develop a physician midwife practice at Bon Secours St. Francis Medical Center in 2004. She returned to VCU in 2013.
“Leslie is the most skilled and respected midwife in Richmond,” says Nicole Karjane, program director for obstetrics and gynecology residents at VCU Health, who nominated Fehan for the Special Honor. “As one of the first midwives at VCU Health, she has been instrumental in making midwifery care available to women who desire it.”
Fehan cares for women in all stages of pregnancy. On any given day, she could be meeting with a patient for a first prenatal appointment, conducting an annual examination, assisting with a labor or helping parents prepare to go home with their new baby. Fehan also runs a group prenatal care session for women who have due dates within one month of each other.
“It’s fun to help expectant mothers meet other women in a similar place as them,” she says. “They can develop a new social network while learning how to prepare for the birth.”
Though Fehan has helped with hundreds of births over her career, she says every one is different.
“I love experiencing the moment when a woman gets through the transition and finds her power,” Fehan says. “Whether it’s her first child or fourth, welcoming new life into the world is miraculous every time, and it’s such a blessing to witness.”
Fehan said the most challenging part of her job by far is supporting mothers who lose a child and helping them find the strength to carry on.
“Leslie has the unique ability to mix empathy and strength in order to give her patients exactly what they need,” says Jennifer Rhodes, director of the Center for Craniofacial Care at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. “It’s the relationships that she builds with her patients that are so very special.”
Fehan will celebrate her 29th wedding anniversary this year with her husband, Rick. She says she is thankful to him for supporting her through many years of unexpected schedules and crazy hours.
“I feel I’ve been given a gift, and I want to continue sharing my wisdom with others,” she says.