Melissa D. Avery, PhD, APRN, CNM, FACNM, FAAN

Professor, Child Family Health Cooperative

Melissa D. Avery

Contact Info

Office Phone 612-624-5933

Fax 612-626-6606

Office Address:
6-125B Weaver-Densford Hall

Mailing Address:
School of Nursing
University of Minnesota
5-140 Weaver-Densford Hall
308 Harvard Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

PhD, University of Minnesota (Nursing), 1993

MSN, University of Kentucky (Nursing/Nurse-Midwifery), 1981

BS, Northern Illinois University (Nursing),1976

RN, Northern Illinois University, 1976


Melissa D. Avery, PhD, CNM, FACNM, FAAN, is a Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota where she directs the nurse-midwifery program. Her current research is examining prenatal care practices to enhance maternal confidence for physiologic labor and birth. She is Co-Principal Investigator on a nationally funded project to develop and implement an interprofessional education curriculum for graduate midwifery students and obstetrics-gynecology residents. Dr. Avery is also midwifery technical lead for midwifery on a USAID funded project supporting Afghan faculty in the health sciences. She is currently a board member and Vice-Chair of the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education and is a past president of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. She is a Fellow in the American College of Nurse-Midwives and the American Academy of Nursing.

Professional Associations


Research Summary/Interests

Increasing women’s confidence for physiologic labor and birth; vaginal birth after cesarean section (VBAC); exercise in pregnancy; exercise and gestational diabetes; breastfeeding; outcomes of nurse-midwifery care; technology enhanced learning, interprofessional education and practice.

Research Funding Grants

Selected Research and Education Grants:

Title of Project:  National Improvement Challenge, Improving Quality and Safety in Women’s Health Care, Safe Reduction of Primary Cesarean Births
Funding Agency: U of MN Midwifery DNP Program and Ob-Gyn Residency Program
Role: PI
Project dates: 9/2018

Title of Project:  Strengthening the Health Care Workforce in Afghanistan: A Kabul Medical University and University of Minnesota Collaborative Workforce Development Project.
Funding Agency: FHI 360 Subaward of USAID grant under the Higher Education Workforce Development Program
Role: Midwifery Technical Lead
Project dates: 5/1/2017- 6/01/2019

Title of Project: ACNM-ACOG Maternity Care Education and Practice Redesign
Funding Agency: Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, subcontract with ACNM
Role: Co-PI
Project dates: February 2017 –2020

Title of Project: Developing confidence for physiologic birth: Women’s perceptions of prenatal influences. Funding transferred from President’s Multicultural Research Award. 2014-2015. Role: PI

Title of Project: Effect of exercise and wellness interventions on preventing postpartum depression.
Funding Agency: NIMH, Role: Co-Investigator
Project dates: 9/2012 – 9/2016.

Title of Project: Promoting Excellence in APRN Education: A Regional Approach to Quality, Safety and Diversity.
Funding Agency: HRSA, Bureau of Health Professions, Division of Nursing.
Role: Co-I, Interim PI
Project Dates: 7/2011–6/2015.

Title of Project: Diet and Exercise Intervention to Prevent Gestational Diabetes in Native American Women
Funded under CDC
Role: Co-Principal Investigator
Project Dates: 9/2009-2011

Title of Project: Exercise for American Indian Women with Gestational Diabetes: A Pilot Study.
Funded under NIH/NINR; P-20 Center for Health Trajectory Research, pilot
Role: Principal Investigator

Title of Project: Helping Women Achieve Healthy Weight Gain in Pregnancy
Funding Agency: UCare MN
Role: Co-Investigator
Project Dates: 7/1/07-6/30/08

Title of Project: Development of an Exercise Intervention for American Indian Women with Gestational Diabetes: A Community-Based Approach
Funding Agency: American College of Nurse Midwives Foundation
Role: Principal Investigator
Project Dates: 07/06-12/07

Title of Project: Technology Enhanced Learning in Graduate Education
Funding Agency: DHHS/HRSA
Role: Director
Project Dates: 9/1/04-6/30/08

Title of Project: Health Education Priorities: Perspectives from Women's Voices
Funding Agency: UMN Council on Public Engagement (COPE)
Role: Director, Outreach
Project Dates: 1/04-12/05

Title of Project: Outcomes of Nurse-Midwifery Care of Women Choosing Vaginal Birth After Previous Cesarean Section: Pilot Study
Funding Agency: American College of Nurse-Midwives Foundation
Role: Principal Investigator
Project Dates: 2/02-1/04


Selected Publications:

  • Luyben, A., Barger, M., Avery, M., Bick D. What is next? Midwifery education building partnerships for tomorrow's maternal and neonatal health care. Midwifery, 64, 132-135, 2018.
  • Carrie Neerland, Melissa Avery and Melissa Saftner, Maternal confidence for physiologic birth: Associated prenatal characteristics and outcomes, published in Midwifery, October. 
  • Avery, M. D. Neerland, C., Saftner, M. A. (2018) Preparing for Birth. In Jordan, R.G., Farley, C.L., Grace, K.T. Eds, Prenatal and Postnatal Care: A Woman-Centered Approach. Wiley Blackwell.
  • Anderson, C. & Avery, MD. (2019). Anatomy and Physiology during Labor and Birth. In King, Brucker, Jevitt & Osborne (Eds.) Varney’s Midwifery (6th ed.) Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
  • Lewis, B.A., Schuver, K., Dunsiger, S., Samson, L., Frayeh, A.L., Terrell, C.A., Ciccolo, J.T., & Avery, M.D. (in press). Rationale, design, and baseline data for the Healthy Mom II Trial: A randomized trial examining the efficacy of exercise and wellness interventions for the prevention of postpartum depression. Contemporary Clinical Trials.
  • Avery, M. D. Neerland, C., Saftner, M. A. Women's perceptions of prenatal influences on maternal confidence for physiologic birth. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health. 2018. Published online ahead of print. DOI: 10.1111/jmwh.12897
  • Lewis, B. A., Djerdigan, D., Schuver, K., Avery, M.D., Marcus, B. The effect of sleep pattern changes on postpartum depressive symptoms. BMC Women's Health 18, 12, 2018.
  • Sommerness, S., Bangdiwala, A., Hirt, C., Gams, B., Rauk, P., Avery, M., Delkoski, S., Miller, K., Landers, D. Birth outcomes after implementing an evidence-based guideline for managing delayed pushing in second stage labor in women with epidural anesthesia. Research on Women’s Health, 1(1), 1-8, 2018   
  • Miller, J., Avery, M., Larson, K., Woll, A., VonAchen, A., Mortenson, A. (2015). Emergency birth hybrid simulation with standardized patients in midwifery education: Implementation and evaluation. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health.
  • Lewis, B.A., Schuver, K., Gjerdingen, D., Avery, M., Sirard, J., & Marcus, B.H. (2015). The Relationship between Prenatal Antidepressant Use and the Decision to Breastfeed among Women Enrolled in a Randomized Exercise Intervention Trial. Journal of Human Lactation. 1-6. DOI: 10.1177/0890334415592153.
  • Kozhimannil KB, Attanasio LB, Yang YT, Avery MD, Declercq E. Midwifery care and patient-provider communication in maternity decisions. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2015 Feb 10 doi: 10.1007/s10995 – 015 – 1671 – 8 [Epub ahead of print].
  • King VJ, Fontaine PL, Atwood LA, Powers E, Leeman L, Ecker JL, Avery MD, Sakala C, Campos-Outcalt D, Jeffcott-Pera M, Schoof B. (2015.) Clinical practice guideline executive summary: Labor after cesarean/planned vaginal birth after cesarean. Ann Fam Med, 13(1), 80-81.
  • Avery, M, Saftner, M, Larson, B, Weinfurter, E. (2014). Characteristics of prenatal care to increase maternal confidence for physiologic birth: a systematic review. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health.
  • Lewis, B.A., Gjerdingen, D., Avery, M., Sirard, J., Guo, H., Schuver, K. & Marcus, B.H. (2014). A Randomized Trial Examining a Physical Activity Intervention for the Prevention of Postpartum Depression: The Healthy Mom Trial. Mental Health & Physical Activity. 7, 42-49. doi: 10.1016/j.mhpa.2013.11.002
  • Phillipi, J., & Avery, MD. (2014). The 2012 American College of Nurse-Midwives Core Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice: History and Revision. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health. 59(1), 82-90.
  • Cook, E., Avery, M., Frisvold, M. (2014). Formulating evidence-based guidelines for CNMs and CMs attending home births. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health. 59(2), 153-159.
  • Avery, M.D, Montgomery, O., Brandl-Salutz, E. (2012). Essential components of successful collaborative maternity care models: The ACOG-ACNM project. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America, 39, 423-34.
  • Kozhimannil, K.B., Avery, M.D., Terrell, C.A. (2012). Recent trends in clinicians providing care to pregnant women in the United States. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 57: 433-38.
  • Lewis, B.A, Djerdigan, D.K., Avery, M.D., Guo, H., Sirard, J., Bonikowske, A.R., Marcus, B. (2012). Examination of a telephone-based exercise intervention for the prevention of postpartum depression: Design, methodology and baseline data from The Healthy Mom study. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 33, 1150-58.
  • Avery, M., Hamilton-Escoto, K., Gilchrist, L., Peden-McAlpine, C. (2011). Health Education Priorities: Perspectives from Women's Voices. Health Care for Women International, 32, 887-900.
  • Lewis, B.A., Martinson, B., Sherwood, N., Avery, M. (2011). A Pilot Study Evaluating a Telephone-Based Exercise Intervention for Pregnant and Postpartum Women. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 56, 127-31.
  • Avery, M.; Germano, E., Camune, B. (2010). Midwifery practice and nursing regulation: Licensure, accreditation, certification and education. Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health, 55, 411-14.
  • Axtell, S., Avery, M., Westra, B. (2010). Community-University Collaboration to Improve Cultural Competence in a Graduate Nursing Curriculum. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 21, 183-191.
  • Avery, Melissa M.; Cohen, Bradley A.; and Walker, J. D. (2008). Evaluation of an Online Graduate Nursing Curriculum: Examining Standards of Quality, International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship: Vol. 5 : Iss. 1,Article 44.
  • Available at:
  • Pfeiffer, J, Avery, M., Benbenek, M, Prepas, R, Summers, L, Wachdorf, C, O'Boyle, C. (2008). Maternal and Newborn Care During Disasters: Thinking Outside the Hospital Paradigm. Nursing Clinics of North America, 43, 449-467.
  • Lewis, B.A., Avery, M., Jennings, E., Sherwood, N., Martinson, B., and Crain, A. L. (2008). Effect of exercise during pregnancy on maternal and newborn outcomes: Practical implications for practice. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 2, 441-455.
  • Anderson, K. & Avery, M. (2008). Faculty teaching time: A comparison of web-based and face-to-face graduate nursing courses. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, Vol. 5: Iss. 1, Article 2. Available at:
  • Avery, M. & Howe, C. (2007). The DNP and entry into midwifery practice: An analysis. Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health, 52, 14-22.
  • Avery, M. & Baum, K. (2006). Endocrine disorders. In Primary Care for Midwives, Hackley, B. & Kriebs, J. Eds. Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
  • Avery, M. (2005). The history and evolution of the core competencies for basic midwifery practice. Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health, 50(2), 102-107.
  • Avery, M., Carr, C. A., & Burkhardt, P. (2004). Vaginal birth after cesarean section: A pilot study of outcomes in women receiving midwifery care. Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health, 49(2), 113-117.
  • Bata-Jones, B., & Avery, M. (2004). Teaching pharmacology to graduate nursing students: Evaluation and comparison of web-based and face-to-face methods. Journal of Nursing Education, 43(4), 185-189.
  • Avery, M., Ringdahl, D., Juve, C., & Plumbo, P. (2003). The transition to web-based education: Enhancing access to graduate education for women's health providers. Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health, 48(6), 418-425.
  • Carr, C. A., Burkhardt, P., & Avery, M. (2002). Vaginal birth after cesarean birth: A national survey of U.S. midwifery practice. Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health, 47(5), 347-352.
  • Avery, M., & Walker, A. (2001). Acute effect of exercise on blood glucose and insulin levels in women with gestational diabetes. The Journal of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, 10, 52-58.
  • Avery, M., Franzich, C.R. & Duckett, L. (2000). The Experience of sexuality during breastfeeding among primiparous women. Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health, 45, (3), 227-237.
  • Duckett, L., Henly, S., Avery, M., Potter, S., Hills-Bonczyk, S., Hulden, R., & Savik, K. (1998). A theory of planned behavior-based structural model for breastfeeding. Nursing Research, 47, 325-336.
  • Avery, M., Leon. A.S., Kopher, R.A. (1997). Effect of a partially home-based exercise program for women with gestational diabetes. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 89, 10-15.


Academic Interests and Focus

Nurse-midwifery; Nursing Education; Research


Board Certifications

Certified Nurse Midwife, 1981 - present