Midwife literally means “with woman.” A midwife is a healthcare professional that cares for women from adolescence to beyond menopause. Midwives specialize in natural labor and birth but also provide care for women who desire epidurals and other pain medications during labor.
Midwives provide the following services:
-Gynecologic and family planning services
-Care during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period
-Care of the normal newborn during the first 28 days of life
-Treatment of male partners for sexually transmitted infections
Midwives can also order tests, provide treatments, and prescribe medications.
Fun Fact: Midwives are one of the oldest professions dating back to biblical days
3 Types of Midwives
Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs)
Registered nurses (RNs) with a master’s or doctoral degree in nurse-midwifery. They must pass a national certification exam. They must have a license to practice in their respective state(s). Can practice in all 50 states. CNMs work in all health care settings including hospitals, birth centers, and offices or clinics. CNMs provide general women’s health care throughout a woman’s lifetime. CNMs can prescribe most medications. Services covered by Medicaid
Certified Midwives (CMs)
Midwives that came to midwifery with a bachelor’s degree outside of nursing. CMs have the same education and must pass the same licensure exams as the CNM. Must also have a license to practice in their respective state. CMs provide the same services as CNMS as well as work in the same settings. Services covered by Medicaid.
Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs)
Midwives that either graduate from an accredited formal program or complete an apprenticeship training. CPMs must also take a certification exam although it is different than the exam taken by CNMs and CMs. CPMs’ scope of practice is not as broad as CNMs and CMs. CPMs provide care for women outside of the hospital such as in birth centers and client homes. CPMs are not able to prescribe most medications.
Why Hire a Midwife?
Midwives are your healthcare partners specializing in low-risk pregnancies and birth. Midwives value you and respect your decisions. They offer you the education and support you need to make an informed decision that works best for you and your family.
Midwives view birth as a normal, natural process, not a medical procedure. However, if there is a concern about you or your baby, midwives partner or collaborate with OB/GYNs and other healthcare providers to ensure you receive the best care possible.
Midwives are experts in natural birth. They will educate, support, and advocate for you. They will show you natural ways to decrease labor pain such as position changes, breathing techniques, massage, and being in a tub of water. Midwives can also give pain medications if needed.
If you need a c-section, midwives will not perform the surgery but will work with the physician in the surgery.
General Questions to ask a Midwife
1. If you work in a group, who will attend my birth?
2. Who attends births for you when you are away?
3. What kind of childbirth preparation do you recommend?
4. Do you provide labor support and stay with women throughout labor?
5. How do you feel about doulas or family and friends being with me during labor?
6. Do you allow moving around and eating or drinking during labor?
7. Can I hold my baby right after birth, breastfeed, and not be separated?
8. Do you offer delayed cord clamping?
9. When do you recommend IVs, fetal heart monitoring, Pitocin, or episiotomy?
10. Do you care for women who want vaginal birth after a previous cesarean birth (VBAC)?
11. How much do you charge? Is your care paid for by my insurance?
Questions to ask a Midwife at a Birth Center
1. Am I eligible to give birth in this setting?
2. What equipment and drugs do you have?
3. When would we go to the hospital?
4. Which hospital will I go to if a problem occurs during labor? How will I get there?
5. How often do women in your practice go to the hospital during labor?
6. Do you have a formal agreement with a physician to provide care if a problem occurs?
7. Would you stay with me if we go to the hospital?
8. Are you trained in newborn resuscitation?
9. Will you visit me at home after my baby is born?