When it came time for Roslindale resident Susanne Kistin to decide where to have her first baby, she knew only one place would do: her job.Luckily, she works as a midwife in the Greater Roslindale Medical and Dental Center (GRMDC). One of her co-workers delivered her son, James, after a long and epidural-free labor.
“Even though I am a midwife, I had never been a mom,” Kistin said. “Just like the women I take care of, I wanted personalized and loving care, privacy and support for the choices I made during my pregnancy.”
Kistin was always very interested in medicine and women’s health. After leaving Albuquerque, N.M., for college as a pre-med major in New York City, however, Kistin realized being a physican wasn’t quite right for her.
It was then that Kistin’s mother, a nurse, introduced her to some of her colleagues who were midwives. The holistic approach that her mother and the midwives took when caring for pregnant women and their families resonated with Kistin and epitomized what she wanted to do as a health care provider.
“I saw the compassion with which midwives worked with women and their families, and I knew then that was exactly what I wanted to do,” she said.
“[Midwives] listen to and help and encourage women to take care of themselves as best as they can. It’s more of a collaborative model of care,” Kistin said. “That’s what I was looking for, even though I didn’t know it before.”
While pregnancy and birth are different for every woman, generally, women who choose to be cared for by a midwife choose lower levels of medical intervention. Many choose to birth at home or in a birthing center instead of a hospital, or to forgo the widely-used and occasionally controversial epidural. Many choose to birth in a tub or chair instead of on a bed.
“A physician’s job is to take care of women who have health issues in their pregnancies,” Kistin explained. “Midwives are there to care for women with low-risk pregnancies.
“Instead of looking at ways to intervene, what we do is support and teach,” she explained. “We usually spent much more time talking with women.”
After graduation, Kistin found a job at Boston Medical Center. When she and her husband were looking for a home, Kistin said, “We were originally looking in JP, but fell in love with the Roslindale neighborhood and the community, so here we are.” She and her family have been living in Rozzie for three years now.
Recently, her job at Boston Medical Center was moved to the newly-renovated GRDMC, located at 4199 Washington St. in Roslindale Village.
“It’s a whole different level of care, taking care of people in your community,” Kistin said. “It adds a level of personality…It feels like I’m giving back in a very tangible way.”
“I’m familiar with the community, so I can better guide my patients to what resources they need,” she added.
“Suzanne was very good with me,” said Alba Tumor, a recent patient and Rozzie resident. “Suzanne was very patient.”
Kistin said that she loves working so close to where she lives.
“My office is walking distance from my home. It’s a really nice community clinic. It has a really nice feel to it,” she said.
She also said that becoming a mom didn’t change her perspective on her job that much.
“I was expecting it to change a lot more, but I’m relieved that it didn’t…Being a mom has made me more patient and more flexible,” she said. “But I feel like I have a little more credibility with some of my patients now.”