A midwife strikes up imagery of labor and delivery in the Middle Ages, but they are still very much with us in the 21st century. A midwife is a health care professional who specializes in reproductive health. They are responsible for providing prenatal care to expecting moms, and they also attend the birth and then give the mother and new child postpartum care. By tradition, midwives usually help women to have a natural birth experience.
The specific services that a midwife offers depend on her license credentials and certification, as well as any restrictions imposed by the specific state. A nurse-midwife will provide the most extensive array of services, since they have the added nursing license. The services might include family planning, preconception care, gynecological exams, prenatal care, labor / delivery support, menopausal management, and newborn care. Midwives also often provide reproductive education for the mother, pertaining to subjects such as nutrition, exercise, pregnancy health, contraception, and breast feeding.
There are several different types of midwives. All must receive certification through the North American Registry of Midwives. Here are the different types:
CNM: Certified Nurse-Midwife. This is a person who has been trained in nursing as well as being a midwife. They have received a bachelor's degree and have American College of Nurse Midwives certification.
CRM: Certified Professional Midwife. This is a person who has been trained as a midwife and has met the standards provided by the North American Registry of Midwives.
DEM: Direct-Entry Midwife. This is a person trained as a midwife through self-study, a midwife school, apprenticeship, or a college program.
CM: Certified Midwife. This is a person trained in midwifery. She has a bachelor's degree and is certified through the American College of Nurse Midwives
Lay Midwife. This is a person with no official certification, but who has been informally trained in midwifery through either apprenticeship or self-study.
Benefits of Midwives
The main benefit for most women who select a midwife is that they want to go through the birthing process in a natural way. Also, midwives usually offer some kind of easy payment plans or sliding fees. Plus, in the end, the maternity costs are considerably less when you use a midwife.
Drawbacks of Midwives
There are some times when using a midwife are not recommended. These all revolve around situations in which complications with the pregnancy arise. Most midwives are not equipped to handle situations that require a medical intervention.
The American Pregnancy Association says that choosing to use the services of a nurse-midwife will be a good choice for low-risk pregnancies where there is not likely to be a major medical complication. Sixty to 80 percent of pregnancies will fit in this category. APA also cites a review of 800,000 births, in which it was discovered that a standard hospital approach to birthing offers no significant advantage to giving birth over a midwife setting. Just be sure to discuss the matter first with child-care and medical professionals to determine if this is the right choice for you.