Women's Health Options Network


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Patrick D. Thornton, CNM, MSN

Certified Nurse Midwife

1201 South Braddock Avenue, Suite 3
Pittsburgh, PA 15218

in Regent Square

directions to the office

hours by appointment
412-247-5732 Fax


Pregnancy Care

Individualized Care

Nurse midwives provide individualized, family centered prenatal and birth care. The scheduling of visits, monitoring methods, and testing offered includes everything offered by physicians to low risk women.

Individualized Care

Midwives and Medication

Family Photo Gallery

Appointments tend to be longer, and we focus on you as a person, not just your test results. Time is spent helping you identify your priorities and develop a birth plan addressing them.

During labor, nurse midwives provide continuous support and encouragement. We view pregnancy and birth as normal and health miracles. Our role is to support that intimate miracle while guarding against complications. Our goal is an experience that is not only safe, but satisfying for you as well.

We currently do not offer home births. All births are planned for local hospitals, primarily UPMC Shadyside. We have been pleased with Shadyside Hospital's excellent nursing staff, breast feeding support, and rooming in policies. It is one of the few facilities in town offering Jacuzzis for labor pain therapy. It has 24 hour/7 days-a-week in-house emergency surgical and anesthesia support. In addition, Patrick Thornton has private consultative arrangements with leading obstetricians at Shadyside Hospital.

Unique to Women's Health Options Network:

  • a single, consistent provider for your prenatal care...
    In large group practices you might not even meet all the providers before your birth, much less know them well.
  • no office bureaucracy or waiting at appointments...
    Office hours are by appointment, with one patient scheduled at a time.
  • direct access to Patrick at all times...
    Where else can you find a health care provider who answers his own phone, and always returns calls the same day?
  • you know who will be with you in labor...
    In group practices, you generally have no choice but to take whoever is on duty.

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Midwife patient ten minutes before delivery"In ten years of work in teaching hospitals I have never seen a medical student or obstetric resident spend an entire labor at the bedside. Not even a short labor. Usually not even the pushing part. Comforting women through labor is not part of their training. Ordering medications is." 
(Patrick Thornton, CNM)

Midwives and Medication

Many people assume that choosing a midwife limits their childbirth options to home birth. They're often surprised to learn that the majority of Certified Nurse Midwives deliver babies in hospitals and have all the options available at any hospital for managing pain, including epidurals and IV medications.

However, medications are not the only tools we have available. Midwives specialize in assisting women and their loved ones in coping with the discomfort of labor and birth.

We make time to discuss your concerns about pain before labor, and encourage birth classes, reading, yoga or other preparation suited to your specific needs.

We also work with doulas, if desired. Doulas are trained labor assistants who provide personal support and encouragement in labor. Research has demonstrated that this kind of continuous personal care is strongly associated with faster, more comfortable labors, less need for medication, and greater overall satisfaction with the birth experience.

Perhaps most importantly, nurse midwives themselves provide personal care throughout labor. We believe this is partly responsible for our excellent clinical outcomes and safety record. Ample evidence indicates that women and families find it comforting and helpful. It allows the midwife-patient team a greater array of options in dealing with pain and better judgment regarding their use. Again, when women have this kind of high quality support, they usually don't need as much medication. Massage, water therapy, physical movement, relaxation exercises, hypnotherapy, and other techniques can drastically reduce the perception of pain.

No two labors are alike. That's why we encourage an open minded and optimistic approach to labor pain. Rather than fewer options with midwives, most women find they have far more. And if medications or epidurals are needed, they're readily available. 

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Updated 2001-05-08