Having a Midwife While Pregnant
The term midwife simply means ‘mid’= with and ‘wif’ = woman. Midwives as a profession have been around for thousands of years. A midwife was once thought to be a woman’s profession only, but these days many men and women share the duties, knowledge, education and training.
They are also involved heavily in the labor process, newborn care, breastfeeding, neonatal resuscitation (if needed) and are trained to identify complications and medical problems and refer to an OB when appropriate. Generally, a woman’s midwife can and will stay by her side throughout majority, if not all of the labor, delivery and after delivery.
There are several types of midwives. Here’s a brief look and description of each:
Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) – These midwives are trained in midwifery through the North American Registry of Midwives. For excellent information about Certified Professional Midwives, go to http://www.nacpm.org/what-is-cpm.html Many CPMs are licensed in their state. Most
CPMs provide home births, water births, and services at birthing centers.
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) - These are midwives who are also RN’s and have passed the certification exam set by the American College of Nurse Midwives. CNM’s have at least 1-year of midwifery specialty training beyond their nursing education. They practice in hospitals and birth centers, and a few provide homebirth services.
Certified Midwife (CM) – These midwives are trained and certified in midwifery, plus they hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education and are certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives.
What Can a Midwife do for You?
There are numerous things a midwife is trained to help you with. First, they are experts on the gestation period and can answer medical questions that may or may not help you. Besides answering questions you may have about your pregnancy, midwives are known to also:
- Monitor the physical, psychological and overall wellness of the mother throughout labor and delivery
- Minimize technological interventions
- Provides hands-on assistance during labor
- Provides postpartum support
- Provides the mother with education, counseling and prenatal care
Other services a midwife can provide you with includes:
- Medical history
- Gynecological exams
- Contraceptive counseling
- Newborn care
- Menopausal management
You have to keep in mind, before you hire a midwife, that midwives are restricted to performing certain duties based on their level of education, certification and licensing. What are their licensing requirements in your state? Go to http://narm.org/state-agencies/ to learn about CPMs in your state or region.
Benefits of Having a Midwife
There are numerous benefits to having a midwife on your team during labor and delivery. Midwifes can stay with you, even while shifts are being changed, doctors come and go, nurses deal with other emergencies, and even when your partner needs a nap or a break. Other benefits include:
- Educational support before, during and after labor and delivery
- Emotional support
- Physical support
- Can suggest different positions if uncomfortable
- Can perform medical interventions if nurse or doctor is not around
- Can act as communicator for mother, partner and clinical care team
- Reduces anxiety in both mother and partner
- Will stay with you and new baby for up to 6 weeks after birth
- Can be found in hospitals, birthing centers or used at home in a private setting
- Fewer complications
- Lower maternity costs
- Lower intervention rates
You may also have always pictured yourself giving birth in a hospital, but the best thing about midwives is that they have the knowledge and expertise to birth a baby just about anywhere. Births are known to have less complications and medical intervention rates when a midwife is present.
They can also be beneficial to other members of an expectant mother’s family, including the partner. Many times, people don’t realize the amount of pressure that is put on a partner during labor and birth. Most partners are relieved to have a midwife there to answer questions, help cope with pain, and to communicate knowledgeably to medical staff and personal that are on the care team.