The word Midwife means “with woman” and midwives have been “with women” from the beginning of time. It is only in the very recent past (say, about 200 years or so) that men were even allowed to be in the presence of a woman giving birth, as it was considered to be a sacred, “women-only” space. Midwives fill a variety of roles for the pregnant and birthing mother, from education and pre-natal health care, to emotional support and medical expertise. The have filled, and continued to fill, a crucial role when it comes to healthy women, happy babies, and the natural birthing process. However, there are common misconceptions aboutmidwives and their role in the medical establishment now that most births take place in a hospital.
Here are 4 of the most common misconceptions about Midwives.
1. They have no formal training. While it is true that lay midwives have worked in the role of Midwife with no formal training, the majority of midwives are very highly trained. In fact, most midwives in the United States have master’s degrees, in addition to highly specialized training in well-woman, pre-natal, labor and delivery, and postpartum care. There are three different types of midwives:
a. Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). These midwives are registered nurses that have gone on to pursue graduate studies in midwifery. They have passed the American Midwifery Certification Board Exam (AMCB) and must keep their license current.
b. Certified Midwife (CM). These midwives have a bachelor’s degree in a field outside of nursing, and have gone on to pursue formal midwifery education and training through an accredited program. Like CNMs, they have also passed the AMCB exam.
c. Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). These midwives have apprenticed on their own or through an accredited program, and have passed the certification exam issued by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). However, the scope of their work is more limited than that of a CNM or CM.
93% of all midwife-attended births in the United States are attended by CNMs or CMs.
2. Midwives only assist home births. In fact, most CNMs work exclusively for hospitals, birthing centers, and OB/GYN practices. There are only a very small percentage of midwives that perform home births. In some cases, midwives will come to the client’s home for pre-natal visits, or may have the client visit them at their office, however the vast majority of midwife-attended births take place in a hospital or birthing center.
3. You have to choose a midwife or an OB/GYN. Not true! In fact, here at Overlake OB/GYN we have an amazing staff of CNMs who work right along side of us, ensuring our patients and their babies get the loving and caring attention they deserve. During the labor, the midwife works very closely with the mother, her family/support people, and the physician’s team for the most comfortable and rewarding birth possible.
4. Midwives only deal with labor and delivery. Actually, midwives are trained to take care of a woman’s complete gynecological and reproductive health from adolescence through menopause. CNMs and CMs perform cervical and pelvic exams as well as pap smears. They are a caring and compassionate educators and help their clients with family planning needs, STD testing and all areas of a woman’s well-being. Once a woman is pregnant, the midwife is her first line of medical support and encouragement, and is her greatest advocate both in and out of the doctor’s office. CNMs and CMs can order lab tests, prescribe medications, administer birth control, and dispense health-related advice.
Are you interested in learning more about midwifery care, and how it will augment your pregnancy and labor? Make an appointment at Overlake OB/GYN.