Expectant parents are faced with a wide range of questions. What should we name the baby? Which crib should we get? Breast or bottle feeding? The questions go on and on.
One important question is: Who should deliver the baby? One option is to work with a midwife throughout your pregnancy, delivery and after.
What is A Midwife?
A midwife is a specialty trained healthcare professional that helps mothers have a healthy pregnancy and delivery through comprehensive preconception and prenatal care. Midwives educate, coach and encourage expectant parents throughout the pregnancy, birth and beyond.
Be informed when selecting an obstetrics provider. Talk with others you may know who have used a midwife, and visit with the midwife before you make your choice to ensure you have a good rapport. You’ll be working closely together throughout the pregnancy.
There are different levels of midwife training and experience. Ask individuals you’re considering what their educational and training background is. Here’s an overview of some key differences:
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) — Licensed, independent healthcare providers that have earned a master’s degree from an accredited midwifery program and passed the National Certification Examination of the American College of Nurse-Midwives to become board certified. Can be legally licensed in all states.
Certified Midwife (CM) — Have also completed a master’s level, nationally accredited midwifery program. A nursing degree is not required. They are authorized to practice in Delaware, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.
Direct-entry or lay midwife — Education and licensing requirements vary by state. A nursing degree is not required. Direct-entry midwives are licensed or regulated in 21 states, including Wisconsin. Direct-entry midwives are not regulated in Illinois or Michigan.
Midwives typically care for pregnant women who are healthy and can expect an uncomplicated pregnancy and birth. The midwife works with a collaborating physician throughout the pregnancy. If a woman is considered high risk or if problems come up during pregnancy or birth, the midwife will consult the physician to ensure the safety of the mother and baby.
Qualified midwives’ patients receive extensive prenatal care, diagnostic testing consistent with national guidelines and a safe, secure delivery in a hospital. Your midwife may discuss various options for you to remain comfortable throughout the pregnancy and birth including massage, hydrotherapy and acupressure.
The midwife provides one-on-one coaching and support throughout the labor and delivery process. With the appropriate training and credentials, a midwife can also prescribe medications. Labor epidurals are available to midwife patients. If a Cesarean delivery is necessary, CNMs can assist a physician with the surgery.
As you consider pregnancy or plan for it, keep in mind that birth is a natural, common occurrence that calls for patience, strength and endurance. A midwife’s role is to help you welcome your new baby according to Mother Nature’s well-conceived plan.