Our Role as Midwives
Unfortunately, many people don’t really know what role midwives play in health care in the United States today. Midwives approach health care using science and evidence. They base their expert, personalized service on their education and experience. In fact, certified-nurse midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs) can offer services beyond maternity care, including general health care services from the teenage years through adulthood and into the elder years.
Check out our video about midwives and the care they provide to get a better idea of how midwives operate!
A Midwife’s Approach to Health Care
When seeking a partner for your health care, it’s important to understand how different kinds of providers will have a different approach to care. Midwives are skilled in creating an experience that is tailored to your personal preferences and health needs. They will work with you to make important decisions such as where and how you want to give birth or how you want to approach your changing needs as you move into menopause.
Birth Settings & Midwives
Midwives are professionals who practice in hospitals, clinics, medical offices, free-standing birth centers and/or private settings (such as a private practice or your home). Many midwives practice in more than one setting, such as hospitals and physician’s offices, and often work closely with other health care providers to offer you a wide range of services. We encourage you to identify a provider in your area that can work with you to meet your health care goals.
The health care system in the United States tends to approach pregnancy in terms of what might go wrong. This is a different approach than in other developed countries, and it often leads to the use of tests and procedures in pregnancy and birth that are not needed. Midwives view pregnancy and birth as normal life events that are best protected through education and support. Midwives use medical procedures only when there is a specific concern for the health of the mother or baby.
Many women are not aware that for a low-risk, healthy pregnancy (which most are), common childbirth procedures like labor induction or cesarean section are not usually needed. Unfortunately, too many women enter labor not knowing they have choices about whether or not to accept these procedures and how to avoid them. No matter which health care provider you select, it’s important to know about the procedures that may be offered to you during childbirth.
Your midwife is an expert at recognizing and taking action in an emergency if necessary. However, most situations are not emergencies. There is time to work with your midwife to understand your choices and consider the options available to meet your personal needs. As your partner in care, your midwife will provide you with information and resources so you can make informed decisions. This shared approach to decision making and partnering in planning your care is a key aspect of your midwife’s approach to health care.
Whether you plan to give birth in the hospital, at a free-standing birth center, or at home, your midwife will have a plan of action for handling any problems that require attention from additional health care providers.
Why Choose a Midwife?
In our society, many health care services are offered as one-size-fits-all. Choosing a midwife offers you a chance for expert personalized care based on research and evidence. Midwifery care does not rely on providing a specific set of childbirth procedures or practices for all women. Instead, midwives tailor care to meet the wants and needs of each woman and her baby. In this way, midwives maintain the best conditions possible for a safe and healthy outcome for all involved.
Here is what women are saying about using a midwife for their care:
“When I became pregnant with my first child, my sister-in-law, an OB/GYN, suggested that I see a midwife. She so highly praised the midwives in her practice that it seemed like the natural choice for us. My midwife approached pregnancy as a normal process and provided a sense of calm empowerment to me throughout. I am certain that her patience and wisdom saved us from needing undesired medical procedures and helped us have the birth experience that was important to us. She will always have a special place in our lives and hearts.”
“Within a matter of weeks after finding out I was pregnant, I chose to see a group of certified nurse-midwives who attended births at a birth center as well as a nearby hospital. I am so grateful that I had a full range of choices for navigating labor and birth and a care provider I could trust to guide me through the difficult patches without giving up my values and wishes. I’ll continue visiting my midwife for my gynecologic care and without a doubt will return for my next birth.”
“To say that I love my midwife is nothing short of an understatement. She unselfishly gave me the support and encouragement that I needed to confidently obtain a wonderful natural healthy birth for my daughter. After having been through a very difficult birth with my first child as a direct result of multiple unnecessary medical procedures, I knew that there had to be a better way to experience birth. She helped me see it through to the very end; through every tear and drop of sweat she stood with me, all the while saying, ‘“You can do this!’”
The above quotes are from women who received midwifery care and shared their stories with the American College of Nurse-Midwives.