The Benefits of Using a Midwife During Pregnancy
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The Benefits of Using a Midwife During Pregnancy

Using the services of a certified nurse midwife during pregnancy can provide women with many benefits, from the time they receive the positive pregnancy test, to their postpartum recovery and journey into new parenthood.

There are many benefits to receiving care from certified nurse midwives during pregnancy and postpartum. Midwives are healthcare professionals that provide a variety of medical care services for women. From prenatal care, to assistance during labor and delivery, to postpartum support, certified professional midwives are a great addition to a woman's healthcare team during pregnancy and beyond.

Midwifery care generally includes gynecological examinations, contraceptive counseling, and labor and delivery support. Midwives provide care for low risk pregnancies, assisting in labor and delivery and after birth. Midwives might work at a hospital, birthing center, or out of patients' homes for a home birth.

Midwifery care typically includes the following services: 

pregnant woman with a midwife
  1. Gynecological exams

    • A midwife can perform annual gynecological exams, which include breast exams, pelvic exams, and a Pap test.

  2. Family planning

    • A midwife can help advise couples on different birth control methods.

  3. Preconception care

  4. Prenatal care

    • A midwife can provide pregnancy care to women. In some practices, women see the same midwife at each appointment, and other practices have patients see midwives on a rotating basis.

  5. Labor and delivery support

  6. Newborn care

  7. Postpartum support

  8. Menopausal management

  9. Reproductive education

  10. Infant care education

The services that a nurse midwife provides depend on their certification and licensing credentials. Nurse midwives can offer the most comprehensive array of medical services to women. 

Using the guidance of certified midwives has many benefits.

Using the services of a certified nurse midwife has many benefits, including decreased risk of needing a cesarean birth, reduced instances of induction or augmentation, reduced use of interventions like anesthesia (epidural), decreased infant mortality rates, decreased risk of preterm birth, and decreased perineal tears.

Certified nurse midwives provide emotional support, lower the need for medical intervention, help women have a more positive birthing experience, lower costs for patients and insurers, provide labor support and pain management techniques, and increase the likelihood of a positive start to breastfeeding.

A certified midwife can assist in the birthing process by providing physical and emotional support during labor and childbirth. They believe that birth is a natural process that requires little intervention for low-risk pregnancy. A registered midwife makes an excellent addition to the medical team during labor and delivery.

Midwives can be a helpful part of the birth plan, providing holistic care as they help women manage pain during labor and delivery. They provide delivery care through evidence-based practice, using pain relief methods that help reduce a woman's need for pain medications and other interventions during the delivery process.

During the postpartum period, a registered midwife may provide additional follow-up care in a patient's home, helping the family adjust to having a new baby in the house. From breastfeeding assistance to infant care education, most midwives continue to support women even after they return home from the hospital after giving birth.

A midwife can offer postnatal care in a hospital setting or in a patient's home, helping with breastfeeding, soothing the baby, showing parents how to change and bathe a newborn, and managing prescriptions. A midwife can track a woman's height, weight, blood pressure, and overall health as she recovers from childbirth. Many midwives continue to provide care for weeks or even months after delivery.

There are different types of midwives that provide care for expectant mothers. 

Check up with a midwife at home

Midwives are healthcare providers who receive comprehensive training and education, and take an exam to become certified midwives.

  • Certified nurse midwives (CNM) are trained and licensed in nursing and midwifery care. They must obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from an accredited education program, as well as a Master's degree in Midwifery. Certified nurse midwives are certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

  • Certified midwives (CM) are trained and certified in midwifery care. They must obtain a Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and be certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives.

  • Certified professional midwives (CPM) are trained in midwifery and meet the North American Registry of Midwives standards. Multiple educational backgrounds are recognized.

  • Lay midwives are not certified or licensed, but have received informal training in midwifery care through self-study and appretenticeship.

  • A direct entry midwife is trained in midwifery through various sources, including self study, university programs, and apprencticeship.

Midwives work in many different settings.

Midwives aim to support childbirth in as natural of a form as possible, with little intervention. Midwives often practice out of a birthing center or in patients' homes. Midwives can also be part of a labor and delivery team in a hospital setting.

Patients can decide where they want to receive medical care from midwives, whether it be in their home, at a birthing center, or in a hospital.

Birthing centers are an excellent alternative to hospitals. Many women choose birthing centers because they are smaller, less formal, and more welcoming than many hospitals. Birth centers often allow children and other family members to attend the birth.

However, a birth center often is limited in emergency equipment and options for pain relief. A birth center is not advised for women with a high-risk pregnancy.

When is a certified nurse midwife's care not advised?

Midwives regularly consult with obstetricians, perinatologists, and other medical doctors to refer women to appropriate healthcare professionals if complications arise during pregnancy. At that point, women with high-risk pregnancies need more than just midwife care - they need specialists to help them access the right care team they'll need as the pregnancy progresses.

Women with high-risk pregnancies should give birth in a hospital, so that everything relating to pregnancy and childbirth that affects the mother and baby can receive the right medical attention.

A certified professional midwife is a great addition to a woman's healthcare team.

From prenatal care, to assistance while a mother is giving birth, to giving referrals to doctors that can prescribe medications, midwives are able to help many women as they embark on their motherhood journey. 

Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez

I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.

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