Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life. Wonderful, thrilling and frankly, terrifying. The first time you’re pregnant, everything is new and uncertain. Yes, it’s true that women have had babies forever. Literally. It’s not new, but when it’s YOUR pregnancy, it can feel like uncharted territory.
You want someone to show you the way. A guide to walk with you through the uncertainty. For some women, that’s a trusted OB/GYN, but for others, that might be a midwife. A midwife can support you through prenatal care, labor, delivery, and even postpartum care. They provide medical aid throughout your entire pregnancy journey.
Could a midwife be right for you? How will you know?
And, what exactly is a midwife? Are they professionally educated? What qualifies a woman to take advantage of Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) services?
To address some of the myths surrounding midwives and the services they provide, we turned to our friend Charissa Newton, CNM of Premier Health’s Center for Women’s Health and Wellness.
Myth #1: Midwives don’t deliver in hospitals.
In Ohio, certified nurse midwives attend births in hospital or birth center settings. Midwives can manage a woman’s care within the hospital or birth center during labor, delivery, and postpartum. This not only includes providing support, but also closely monitoring the health and well-being of mom and baby, prescribing medications and ordering necessary tests or procedures. Charissa assures us:
“Midwives will still be able to provide support and spend more time in your room throughout labor and after birth, assisting with breastfeeding and any other needs.”
At Atrium Medical Center’s Natural Beginnings Birth Center, families can experience birth in a home-like setting, with the benefits of having the available staff and resources of the hospital. If needed, the family can be quickly and safely moved to the labor and delivery unit where your nurse and midwife will continue caring for you.
CMC Takeaway: Working with a midwife at a birthing center can provide you with the best of both worlds- personalized support in a state-of-the-art medical facility.
Myth #2: Doulas and midwives are the same.
While midwives often work closely alongside doulas, providing well-rounded support during the birth experience, they are not the same.
According to Charissa, the midwives at Center for Women’s Health and Wellness are Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM). They have completed a post-graduate degree in midwifery, with a master’s degree or doctorate degree in nursing. Midwives are nationally certified and licensed by the state of Ohio, staying current with continuing education and reporting to the Ohio Board of Nursing.
“This medical training is the difference between a doula and a midwife. Midwives will continuously assess the health of mom and baby, will assist the baby out during delivery, and may need to do any necessary repairs or medical procedures following birth.”
Doulas are trained non-medical members of the birth team. They are able to focus solely on your mental, physical, and emotional support while helping provide any non-medical comfort measures during labor. Supporting your birth partner is also one of their priorities.
CMC Tip: You can -and many women choose to- have both a midwife and a doula present during labor and childbirth!
Myth #3: I’m considered high risk, so I can’t use a Certified Nurse Midwife.
It’s true that in general, midwives provide care for women with low risk pregnancies. However, sometimes the pregnancy may be considered high risk for reasons that still may be appropriate for midwifery care. Charissa elaborates on the process at Premier Health.
“We work very closely with our physicians, therefore some conditions we are able to co-manage with them, and still attend the birth of the baby. If a pregnancy does become too high risk to continue with midwifery care, we are able to seamlessly transfer care to the physicians, continuing care with the values of the practice and the expertise of high risk conditions.”
Natural Beginnings Birth Center also offers a variety of childbirth education classes to help you prepare.
CMC Takeaway: Even if you think you’re high risk, be sure to ask questions. You might be surprised at the options available to you.
Myth #4: Midwives don’t offer any pain relief during labor.
For many women, this is a main concern, and one of the most pervasive myths about midwives. Your midwife will work with you to create a personalized birth experience, and that will likely include comfort measures. Charissa explains.
”Midwives offer women a personalized birth experience, supporting their decisions and choices about comfort measures during labor. Women who may choose natural childbirth without medications, our midwives will provide support during labor using different positions, hydrotherapy, and other techniques including massage and touch. Midwives also have prescriptive authority, if the woman chooses, she has options for pain medications and an epidural in labor and delivery.”
Your midwife will work closely with you to create a birth plan tailored to your personal choices, including your desired comfort management.
CMC Takeaway: You have options. A midwife will help you choose the best ones for you. Respectful and encouraging comfort measures are a vital part of what a midwife does!
No matter what kind of care you choose when it’s time to deliver your baby, Premier Health has an option that can work for you.