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

Professor, Child Family Health Cooperative

second title

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 teaches in the 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 and gynecology residents. Dr. Avery is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health. She is a past president of the American College of Nurse-Midwives and a Fellow in the American College of Nurse-Midwives and the American Academy of Nursing.

Awards & Recognition

  • Book of the Year Award, Maternal-Child Health Category, American Journal of Nursing, 2017, for Cole, L.J. & Avery, M.D. Eds. (2017). Freestanding Birth Centers: Innovation, Evidence, Optimal Outcomes. Springer Publishing Company, NY.
  • Media Award, American Association of Birth Centers, October 2017, for Cole, L.J. & Avery, M.D. Eds. (2017). Freestanding Birth Centers: Innovation, Evidence, Optimal Outcomes. Springer Publishing Company, NY
  • University of Kentucky, College of Nursing, Hall of Fame, 50th Anniversary of the College, induction May 2011.
  • University of Kentucky, College of Nursing, 50 Outstanding Alumni for 50th Anniversary of the College, October 2010.
  • University of Minnesota, Academy of Distinguished Teachers. 2011.
    University of Minnesota, Award for Outstanding Contributions to Post baccalaureate, Graduate and Professional Education. 2011.
  • U of MN, School of Nursing, Distinguished Faculty Alumni Award, U of MN School of Nursing Centennial celebration, 2009
  • U of MN, Academic Health Center, Academy of Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Inducted September, 2009.
  • Visiting professor at National Taipei College of Nursing, Taiwan, March/April 2001

Professional Associations

  • American College of Nurse-Midwives
  • American Nurses Association
  • American Academy of Nursing
  • American Association of Birth Centers
  • Minnesota Organization of Registered Nurses
  • MN Affiliate ACNM


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: 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: National Improvement Challenge, Improving Quality and Safety in Women’s Health Care, Safe Reduction of Primary Cesarean Births
Funding Agency: Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care
Role: PI
Project dates: 2018-2020

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: 2017- 2019

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

Title of Project: Effect of exercise and wellness interventions on preventing postpartum depression.
Funding Agency: NIMH
Role: Co-Investigator
Project dates: 2012 – 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: 2011–2015.

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

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: 02006-2007

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:

  • Romano, A., Kennedy, H. P., Avery, M.D. (2020). Improving US Maternity Care: A 2020 Call to Action to Scale Up Midwifery. Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health. Online ahead of print. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.13158.
  • Avery, M., Jennings, J., Germano, E., et al. (2020). Interprofessional education between midwifery students and obstetrics and gynecology residents: An American College of Nurse‐Midwives and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Collaboration. Journal of Midwifery &Women’s Health, 65:257–264. DOI:10.1111/jmwh.13057
  • Neerland, C., Avery, M., Looman, W., Saftner, M., Rockwood, T., Gurvich, O. (2020). Development and testing of a maternal confidence for physiologic birth instrument. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 49(2), 200–211.
  • Avery, M. D., & Saftner, M. A. (2019). The Certified Nurse Midwife. In M. F. Tracy & E. T. O'Grady (Eds.), Hamric and Hanson's advanced practice nursing: An integrative approach (6th ed., pp. 436-459). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
  • Madeira, A., Rangen, C., & Avery, M. D. (2019). Design and implementation of a group prenatal care model for Somali Women at a low-resource health clinic. Nursing for Women's Health, 23(3), 224-233.
  • Neerland, C. E., Avery, M. D., Saftner, M. A., & Gurvich, O. V. (2019). Maternal confidence for physiologic birth: Associated prenatal characteristics and outcomes. Midwifery, 77, 110-116, 2019. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2019.07.004
  • Avery, M. D., Neerland, C. E., & Saftner, M. A. (2019). Women's perceptions of prenatal influences on maternal confidence for physiologic birth. Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health, 64(2), 201-208. DOI: 10.1111/jmwh.12897
  • Luyben, A., Barger, M. K., Avery, M. D., & Bick, D. (2018). What is next? Midwifery education building partnerships for tomorrow's maternal and neonatal health care. Midwifery, 64, 132-135.
  • 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, M. D. (2019). Anatomy and physiology during labor and birth. In B. J. King & Osborne (Eds.), Varney's Midwifery (6th ed., pp. 861-880). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
  • Lewis, B. A., Schuver, K., Dunsiger, S., Samson, L., Frayeh, A. L., Terrell, C. A., . . . Avery, M. D. (2018). 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, 70, 15-23.
  • Lewis, B. A., Djerdigan, D., Schuver, K., Avery, M. D., Marcus, B. (*2018).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. (2018). 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.
  • Saftner, M, Neerland, C., Avery, M. (2017). Enhancing women's confidence for physiologic birth: Maternity care providers’ perspectives. Midwifery, 53(2017), 28-34.
  • 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 & Women’s Health, 60(3), 298-303. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12276
  • 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 K.B., Attanasio L.B., Yang YT, Avery M. D., 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
  • King, V. J., Fontaine, P. L., Atwood, L. A., Powers, E., Leeman, L., Ecker J. L., Avery M. D., 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, M. D. (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, 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


Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, State of Minnesota Board of Nursing
Certified Nurse-Midwife, State of Minnesota Board of Nursing


Nurse-Midwife, American Midwifery Certification Board