A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Considering a midwife for your pregnancy? 6 myths about midwifery

Midwifery has been around for centuries to advise and assist women during childbirth. Today’s Certified Nurse Midwives carry on the tradition of personal family-centered care, but some myths about midwives persist.

Myth 1: Midwives have no formal education.

Mother kissing and holding baby - Myths about midwives

When selecting a provider for your pregnancy, it’s important to research your options to find one best for you.

A certified nurse midwife is a registered nurse with a master’s degree in nurse midwifery. To become a nurse midwife, you also must pass the certified nurse midwife examination through the American Midwifery Certification Board and be licensed in your state to practice midwifery and write prescriptions.

According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, 11,018 certified nurse midwives are licensed to practice in the U.S. as of February 2015.

“Today health care systems are striving to implement patient-focused team care,” said Jamie Ott, certified nurse midwife at Marshfield Clinic Health System.

Myth 2: Doula is another name for midwife.

When considering a midwife for your pregnancy, it may be confusing. At Marshfield Clinic Health System, certified nurse midwives provide services. However, other titles commonly mistaken as the same as certified nurse midwife include certified midwife, certified professional midwife, direct entry midwife, lay midwife or doula.

Certified midwives do not have a nursing background in midwifery. Certified professional midwives generally attend births at home or in birth centers, not hospitals. Lay and direct entry midwives are not medical professionals and usually attend births at home. Doulas assist mothers during pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum by providing emotional support and education, but do not provide medical care.

Certified nurse midwives have the nursing background with a master’s degree in midwifery, along with the training and medical education. This allows midwives to provide comprehensive, personal and family-center care in a hospital setting.

Myth 3: Midwives are only used during in-home births.

Whether at home, a birth center, or a hospital, certified nurse midwives can practice wherever women give birth. In the U.S., almost 95 percent of certified nurse midwives births occur in a hospital setting, with 2.7 percent occurring in homes, according to statistics from the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

At Marshfield Clinic Health System midwives deliver babies at Marshfield Medical Center in Eau Claire and Marshfield, and provide a wide variety of birthing options and labor support.

Myth 4: Midwives cannot care for high-risk pregnancies.

Pregnancy is a natural process, which is the idea behind midwifery. Most deliveries are uncomplicated, but midwives also are trained to recognize and deal with obstetrical emergencies.

“Pregnancy is a healthy part of a woman’s life,” Ott said. “We are here to support and honor the experience with you.”

For the majority of pregnant women, prenatal and postpartum issues are free from serious complications. Our Health System midwives have the resources of the entire health system available to provide the best care possible. Physicians are available to assist with complicated pregnancies and deliveries, but your midwife remains closely involved while working in consultation with a physician.

Despite the ease of most deliveries, midwives are trained to handle situations that fall outside of the norm,” Ott said. “We will collaborate, consult and refer to physicians when needed to provide the best care for mom and baby.”

Myth 5: Midwives only care for pregnant women.

The word midwife means “with woman.” Certified nurse midwives focus on women’s health care as a whole, and provide gynecological care like annual exams, birth control and family planning.

Health System midwives provide:

  • Personal, family-centered prenatal care
  • Deliveries at hospitals in Eau Claire and Marshfield
  • Labor support and birth plans
  • Hydrotherapy, epidurals and aromatherapy
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Birth control
  • Yearly check-ups

“We work with women to make informed decisions about their health care,” Ott said.

Myth 6: You must have a natural birth with a midwife.

As stated in the services provided, certified nurse midwives can provide epidurals, along with other options to help with pain during childbirth. Marshfield Medical Center-Eau Claire midwives offer options including water births, nitrous oxide and epidurals to help with labor pains.

It’s important to know the different types of midwives to ensure you have the best birthing experience. Certified nurse midwives at Marshfield Clinic Health System provide women another option when it comes to their health care needs.

“We are there to support you in the birth process you choose,” Ott said.

For more information, visit Marshfield Clinic Health System certified nurse midwives webpage, or get to know the midwives available for you.

Related articles:

Who are midwives? One midwife describes her role

The Rounds: The midwife method

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