February 23, 2024/Nursing/Wellness

Providing Trauma-Informed Care to Pregnant Patients (Podcast)

M-Power program improves the perinatal experience for people who have survived abuse

Eight years into her career as an obstetrics nurse, Patricia Gilbert, BSN, RN, participated in a training program called When Survivors Give Birth based on a book by Penny Simkin and Phyllis Klaus. It changed her perspective on childbirth and caring for women in labor.


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“I remembered patients for whom childbirth was not a good experience,” recalls Gilbert. “Through the training, I was able to see these experiences through their perspective and understand how I may or may not know this person’s journey and their past… . I was able to start practicing with this knowledge.”

This new insight led Gilbert to later develop M-Power, a program to improve the perinatal experience for patients who have experienced sexual assault or violence or have had a previous traumatic birth experience.

Gilbert serves as program coordinator of M-Power, which launched in August 2022 and is now available at all nine Cleveland Clinic hospitals that offer obstetrics services. In the latest episode of Cleveland Clinic’s Nurse Essentials podcast, she talks about:

  • The importance of providing perinatal trauma-informed care
  • Considerations addressed by the M-Power program
  • Labor and delivery processes that may be triggering for patients with a history of assault
  • How the program works, beginning with prenatal appointments and screenings
  • Educating clinical nurses and other caregivers on trauma-informed care
  • M-Power outcomes at Cleveland Clinic

Click the podcast player above to listen to the episode now, or read on for a short edited excerpt. Check out more Nurse Essentials episodes at my.clevelandclinic.org/podcasts/nurse-essentials or wherever you get your podcasts.

Podcast excerpt

Podcast host Carol Pehotsky, DNP, RN, NEA-BC: What are some other sort of hallmark processes of the labor and delivery experience that could be triggering for patients?

Gilbert: There is a direct correlation with patients that have a history of traumatic events that may be linked to childhood. And there's an increased correlation with those patients in not having a supportive system. So, also starting out with not just always assuming the person that's in that room is an invited or supportive person. Taking that time, you know, to instead of [saying], “Your support person's going to be here,” [ask] “what do you want? Who would you like in the room with you?” Giving them that opportunity to speak up, to have those conversations.


Other things. In labor and delivery exposure can be a very big thing. So, listening. When you have a patient that comes up, sometimes with our patients we talk about, “When you think about coming in, where does your mind go?” I've had patients before that are like, "Well, I'm going to have to wear a gown. Is it open in the back? Who's going to see me?" Is it really about the gown or is it about the exposure? And finding out, how can we accommodate and how can we work together so that we can make it less of a trigger, less of a stress. So, exposure can be huge.

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