The Benefits of Midwives
Midwives are health care professional who provides an array of health care services for women including gynecological examinations, contraceptive counseling, prescriptions, and labor and delivery care. Providing expert care during labor and delivery, and after birth is a specialty that makes them unique.
Midwives often function as both a quality and economical option for birthing care. They often offer payment plans and sliding fees and are willing to accept most insurance plans including Medicaid.
What services do midwives provide?
Their services depend on the certification and licensing credentials obtained and the practice restrictions of each state. Because of the additional licensure in nursing, a nurse-midwife can offer the most comprehensive array of health care services to women.
These services include annual gynecological exams, family planning, and preconception care, prenatal care, labor and delivery support, newborn care, and menopausal management. Midwives generally provide reproductive education in fertility, nutrition, exercise, contraception, pregnancy health, breastfeeding, and quality infant care.
According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, benefits of receiving midwifery care include:
- Decreased risk of needing a cesarean
- Reduced rates of labor induction and augmentation
- Reduced use of regional anesthesia
- Decreased infant mortality rates
- Decreased risk of preterm birth
- Decreased third and fourth-degree perineal tears
- Lower costs for both clients and insurers
- Increased chances of having a positive start to breastfeeding
- Increased satisfaction with the quality of care 2,3
What are the different types?
Midwives are qualified health care providers who receive comprehensive training and must pass an examination to become certified. Certification is offered by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) and the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). The practice and credentials related to midwifery differ throughout the United States.
- Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM): a midwife trained and licensed in nursing and midwifery. Nurse-midwives should have a BSN (Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing) from an accredited institution and then pursue an advanced degree (Master’s degree) in Midwifery. CNMs are certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
- Certified Midwife (CM): an individual trained and certified in midwifery. Certified midwives must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. They are also certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
- Certified Professional Midwife (CPM): an individual who is trained in midwifery and meets standards of the North American Registry of Midwives. Multiple educational backgrounds are recognized to become a CPM.
- Direct-Entry Midwife (DEM): an independent individual trained in midwifery through various sources that may include apprenticeship, self-study, a midwifery school, or a college/university program.
- Lay Midwife: an individual who is not certified or licensed as a midwife but has received informal training through self-study or apprenticeship.
Where do midwives practice?
Midwives believe in facilitating a natural childbirth as much as possible. Accordingly, it is common to receive care in a private and comfortable birthing center or in your own home. Because of their professionalism and expertise, midwives are often part of a labor and delivery team associated with a local hospital.
You can choose to use the services of a midwife whether you elect to give birth at home, a birthing center, or at a hospital.
Are there any concerns?
There are cases in which either the mother or the baby will require medical interventions that are outside the scope of services offered by a midwife.
Midwives routinely consult with obstetricians, perinatologists, and other healthcare professionals, and will refer women to appropriate medical professionals if complications arise.
If a woman has a high-risk pregnancy and/or if complications are anticipated, it is recommended to choose a hospital setting with more convenient access to obstetricians, perinatologists, and other professionals trained to address complications affecting either the mother or baby.
For more information on Midwives:
1. The collaborative statement created by Midwives Alliance of North America, the North American Registry of Midwives, the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council and Citizens for Midwifery.
2. American College of Nurse-Midwives. ACNM releases research showing significant midwifery care benefits.
3. American College of Nurse-Midwives. Midwifery: Evidence-based practice.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. American College of Nurse-Midwives
2. Citizens for Midwifery. (n.d.). Frequently asked questions about midwives and midwifery.
3. Simkin, P., Whalley, J., & Keppler, A. (1991). Pregnancy, childbirth, and the newborn: The complete guide. Deephaven, MN: Meadowbrook Press.