Mary Theresa Bradish, CNM, a Frontier Nursing University (FNU) alumni, is a midwifery pioneer who worked for years to bring natural birthing options to women in north-central Illinois. She published her inspirational autobiographical memoir in 2016.
Mary’s incredible story began as an obstetrics nurse. She was in the Cadet Nursing Corps during WWII before transitioning into maternity nursing in LaSalle County, Ill. Twenty-five years later, she realized her true calling was encouraging women and families to pursue the birth they desired. She wanted to be able to offer mothers the most comfortable and natural experience possible – from water births to Lamaze practices to breastfeeding.
After completing the nurse-midwifery program at FNU, Mary returned to the Illinois valley to practice. But at that time, in the late 1970s, Mary faced many obstacles because the state wasn’t accepting of natural methods for birth. Through personal and political struggles Mary persisted, and since has helped thousands of women become mothers – always focusing on the most ideal method for each one.
Decades of service later, Mary finally wrote it all down in a personal memoir, entitled Breathe, Breathe, Push. The book chronicles Mary’s journey as she trail-blazed the way for midwifery in central Illinois.
For her extraordinary efforts, Mary received the Distinguished Service Award in 2017 at the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) 62nd Annual Meeting & Exhibition. The award recognizes a CNM/CM or other professional for an unusual and exemplary effort in the field of community service, innovation in midwifery practice, education, or research.
Mary still continues her work as a nurse-midwife at Illinois Valley Community Hospital, where she has helped introduce water births and other natural options for prenatal, childbirth, and postpartum care.
Thank you Mary, for representing FNU by being an inspiration to the nurse-midwifery community and to mothers and families everywhere!
At the heart of Frontier Nursing University is a talented and diverse community of students, alumni, faculty, staff, Couriers and preceptors. Spotlight blogs feature members of our FNU community who are focused on the mission of educating nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners to deliver quality health care to underserved and rural populations.