A midwife is a medical practitioner with training who provides support to healthy women during their labor, delivery, and postpartum period. While most midwives are capable of giving birth in a hospital, they may also do it at birthing centers or at home.

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Most women who select midwives have had a trouble-free pregnancy and desire minimal medical intervention. Many doctors advise against hiring a midwife unless they are directly supervised by a doctor since giving birth to twins is more challenging than giving birth to a single baby.

There are many training levels for midwives:

Registered nurses who have completed a nationally recognized program in nurse-midwifery education and passed an exam are certified nurse-midwives, or CNMs. In addition to the District of Columbia, all 50 states allow them to practice.

Non-nursing midwives with a bachelor’s degree or above in a health-related discipline, completion of an approved midwifery education program, and passing a national test are known as certified midwives, or CMs. CMs are only allowed to practice in a few states.

Non-nursing midwives with training and practical experience in childbirth, including delivery outside of a hospital, who have cleared a national test are known as certified professional midwives, or CPMs. Not every state allows CPMs to operate.

Lay midwives have obtained informal training or apprenticeship but lack a certification or licensure.

How Does the Midwife Help You?

You can receive care from your midwife before to, throughout, or following your pregnancy. The midwife attending to you will:

Provide preconception and family planning services.

Get testing and do prenatal examinations.

Pay attention to your mental and physical well-being.

assist you in planning your birth

advise you on medication, food, exercise, and maintaining your health.

instruct and advise you about delivery, pregnancy, and taking care of a newborn

assist you both practically and emotionally when you’re in labor.

admit you to the hospital and then release you

Give birth to your children.

Provide medical recommendations as necessary

How Your Pregnancy Team and Your Midwife Collaborate

An OB-GYN with whom midwives have a connection offers consultation as necessary. If an issue arises during your pregnancy, your midwife could suggest that you see an obstetrician for treatment. To assist with your labor and delivery, your midwife could collaborate with another midwife or doula. Verify that your midwife is working alongside a physician.

The Reasons You May Want to Select a Midwife

You ought to think about collaborating with a midwife if:

You desire the least amount of medical intervention—such as fetal monitoring, labor induction, episiotomy, etc.—and the most natural birthing experience possible.

You are looking for the social, practical, and emotional support that midwives offer.

Selecting a Midwife

Ask your OB or doctor if they may recommend someone before making your decision. In order to find out more about the experience and potential midwife candidates, you could also wish to speak with any friends who have previously worked with one.

Regardless of the person managing your care, it’s critical to select a provider with whom you are at ease and confident. You may select the best midwife for you by using the questions below to guide you.

What kind of certification is held by the midwife?

Does the state issue a license to the midwife?

Is the midwife connected to a hospital, birthing facility, or doctor’s office?

Does the reputation of this midwife look good?

In what kinds of settings—hospitals, birthing centers, or homes—does the midwife have experience giving birth?

How does a midwife generally handle prenatal care and delivery?

How does the midwife handle discomfort after a baby is born?

What proportion of the midwife’s patients undergo episiotomies, and how are they carried out?

In what situations would the midwife advise against certain medical procedures, such as starting labor on her own or scheduling a C-section or epidural?

What emergency plan does the midwife have in place in case of an out-of-hospital birth?

Does the midwife give me a clear explanation and listen to me?

Does my partner or spouse feel at ease with the midwife?

When the midwife is unavailable, who steps in?

Can I meet the other midwife or doula in advance if they will be attending my birth as well?

Can I meet the OB and does the midwife consult with them?

Does the physician offer support in the event of an emergency or complications?

Is the location of the office convenient?

How are calls made after hours and emergencies handled?

Are the services of the midwife covered by my insurance?