What is a Midwife?

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Thinking about having a baby? Wondering what your birthing options are? A midwife may be the right choice for your maternity healthcare and beyond. Midwives tailor care to meet the wants and needs of each patient and can assist women in developing a birth plan that fits their needs.

What is a midwife?

In cultures around the world, midwives have assisted women in childbirth for centuries. Traditional techniques were passed down from generation to generation. In America today, all midwives must graduate from a masters or doctorate degree program, pass a national certification exam and complete hundreds of hours of patient care to become a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) or certified midwife (CM).

What conditions can midwives treat?

Licensed midwives provide reproductive healthcare care to women of all ages and can prescribe a full range of medications and treatments. Besides maternity care, midwives provide care for the teenage years, annual gynecologic exams, treatment of sexually transmitted infections, family planning and menopause. Midwives work with physicians, nurses and all members of a healthcare team, to provide the highest quality care to every patient.

Why choose a midwife?

In many countries in the world, midwives are the standard care providers for women in childbirth. The popular television show Call the Midwife, depicts the daily life of nurse midwives working in the East End of London in the mid twentieth century.

The midwifery model of care emphasizes that childbirth is a natural process and midwives are there to support women and their families in navigating that process. Midwives provide continuity of care throughout your pregnancy, birth and beyond, sharing information and resources to empower each patient to make informed decisions. This shared approach to decision making is a key aspect of the midwife approach to healthcare. Midwives welcome all questions, from sleep positions to what to pack in a hospital bag.

In America, midwifery care is covered by Medicaid and most insurance plans, making it accessible to many patients nationwide.

How do midwives support women in labor?

Midwives can support women however they give birth. They are especially skilled in supporting women as they cope with labor, the “pain with a purpose.” Besides medication options, pain relief options midwives employ include:

  • - Guided relaxation
  • - Movement and positioning during labor
  • - Hydrotherapy and water births
  • - Breathing techniques
  • - Supportive messages and mantras
  • - Massage
  • - Use of a birthing stool, swing or birthing ball

They are supportive of ways to make the hospital your home away from home, including use of battery powered candles, scents and your favorite music playlist.

How are midwives trained to handle emergencies?

A midwife’s medical training makes them experts at recognizing and taking action in an emergency. If necessary, midwives based in a hospital will quickly call in the support of OB/GYNs, surgeons, anesthesiologists and a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The one goal of the midwife is to support each patient to have the best possible birthing experience and healthcare outcome.

Interested in choosing a midwife?

Whether you hope to give birth in a tub, surrounded by loved ones or relaxed in bed near your partner, midwives are here to support you and help you navigate your options.

If you live in the Gulf Coast region, schedule an appointment with a midwife at Ochsner’s Alternative Birthing Center or call 504-894-2880.

To find a certified midwife in your area, search the American College of Nurse-Midwives database today.

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