More women are choosing midwives to assist with their childbirth journey, but there is still confusion about their exact role in prenatal care and birth.  A recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that in 2009 a midwife assisted one in every eight births in the United States.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the term midwife “reflects a philosophy of care – one that is directed toward women and their individual reproductive needs.” Midwives assist women of all ages in making informed health care decisions. In addition to annual physicals, they assist women with family planning and gynecological problems.

Old stereotypes about the role of a midwife are fading away. Below, we answer some common questions related towards the role of the midwife.

What is the main role of a midwife during pregnancy?

Midwives provide information, options and support to promote a safe, satisfying and meaningful pregnancy and birth. Prenatal visits allow time for questions and concerns. Each woman is encouraged to develop a birth plan, which is discussed during the third trimester. Midwives work in collaboration with other health care professionals, including doulas, nurses and physicians, in order to provide high-quality health care. Physician consultation or referral is obtained when indicated.

What does a midwife do during labor?

The midwife works closely with the mother; her family members and the Overlake OB/GYN nursing staff to provide quality care during labor. She ensures that the birth plan is shared with the nursing staff. Decisions about pain management are made jointly with the mother and her support person. Should conditions arise which require physician involvement, there is an obstetrician on call at all times.

What are the benefits of using a midwife?

One of the main reasons that women choose to use a midwife is to experience childbirth as naturally as possible. Midwives only intervene if necessary and provide a different alternative to a traditional delivery.

According to the doctoral research conducted by Peter Schlenzka, the choice of using a nurse-midwife and natural delivery can result in the following benefits:

  • Lower maternity care costs
  • Reduced mortality and morbidity related to cesarean and other interventions
  • Lower intervention rates
  • Fewer recovery complications

Approximately 60-80 percent of all pregnancies are low risk. The other remaining high risk pregnancies are most likely not appropriate for nurse-midwifery only care. Midwives cannot perform C-sections and rely less on technology. They use fetal monitors, but primarily rely on their clinical experience to assist in birth.

Things to remember

The services of a midwife depend on the certification and licensing credentials obtained and the practice restrictions of each state. As with any health care procedure, there is always a potential risk of complications. If they arise, it is important have a plan in place so you can receive the appropriate medical care.

Overlake has three Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM) that are trained and licensed in both nursing and midwifery. Please contact us online or give us a call if you are interested in learning more about our services and/or providers.