Are you wondering if a midwife
is right for you and your birth plan? Midwives are licensed, highly trained healthcare professionals who provide healthcare to women during pregnancy, birth and post-partum periods. Midwives can also provide support and services long after your child is born, from teenage years through adulthood and beyond.
Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs) both earn master’s or doctorate degrees, graduate from an accredited nurse-midwifery education program and must pass a national exam. CNMs are also licensed by the state as advanced practice registered nurses.
A common misconception is that midwives only assist home births, but according to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the vast majority of CNM/CM-attended births occur in hospitals – 94.2% in 2014. Midwives can guide patients through a variety of birthing options, from birth utilizing epidurals for pain management to water births or vaginal births after cesareans (VBACs). Midwife-attended births have also been tied to lower rates of vaginal lacerations and cesarean sections.
Some believe that midwives only provide maternity care, but midwifery includes a full range of primary care services throughout a woman’s life. These services include gynecology and family planning, preconception care, pregnancy care, childbirth, postpartum period, and more.
What’s the difference between a midwife and an OB/GYN?
Midwives believe in forming a relationship with their patients, providing individualized, evidence-based care that empowers women throughout their maternity care and extensively educates them on the childbirth process. Midwives specialize in low-risk pregnancies and birth, while OB/GYNs can address complications in higher risk pregnancies. OB/GYNs can also perform surgeries and other medical procedures when medical concerns in pregnancy arise, while midwives do not. Midwives often work collaboratively with physicians to ensure that patients are given the unique care they need and deserve. Both midwives and OB/GYNs are covered by health insurance.
A midwife may be right for you if:
- You have a low-risk pregnancy
- Are interested in a more holistic, family-centered care
- Are interested in alternative birthing options such as a water birth
- Want your childbirth experience to be as “low-tech, high-caring” as possible
- Want more labor and emotional support throughout the childbearing cycle and beyond
To find a certified midwife in your area, search the American College of Nurse-Midwives database today.