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FAQs: Midwifery Care

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Q: What is a Midwife?

A: Midwife literally means “with woman.” Midwives are the main caregivers of childbearing women worldwide. The care provided by midwives reflects a deep understanding of the needs of women and newborns and the intricate processes of labor, birth, mothering, and breastfeeding.

Q. What kind of education do midwives receive?

A: In the US, three types of midwives receive extensive education and provide a range of care to women and families:

  • Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) are advanced practice nurses educated in both nursing and midwifery. They must pass a national certification exam and meet criteria set by the American College of Nurse-Midwives. They provide hospital and home birth services and are recognized within the health care system as experts in normal childbirth and well-woman care. CNMs are licensed health care providers in all 50 states. The Birth and Beyond midwives are CNMs.
  • Certified Midwives (CMs) are educated in midwifery and health sciences. CMs must pass a national certification exam and meet the criteria set by the American College of Nurse-Midwives. CMs are not currently licensed in CT.
  • Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) are educated in midwifery, and must pass a national certification exam and meet the criteria set by the Midwives Alliance of North America. CPMs are not currently licensed in CT.

Q: What is midwifery care?

A: Dedicated to the belief that pregnancy and birth are normal processes in a woman’s life, midwives provide personalized, compassionate, and thorough maternity care. This includes comprehensive physical and emotional care for a mother and her baby before, during, and after pregnancy and birth. Our midwives are present during labor and birth, which is usually not the case with other types of providers who “check-in” periodically during labor, and are only present for the delivery.

Midwives specialize in primary health care for women in adolescence, the childbearing years, and beyond menopause. They provide pap smears, breast exams, physicals, comprehensive maternity care, fertility counseling, family planning, and more.

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Midwives spend more time with their patients during visits, making certain that all questions and concerns are answered and addressed. They are specialists in normal pregnancy and focus on maximizing prenatal wellness. In contrast, Obstetricians are trained as surgeons, specializing in complicated pregnancies. More than 80% of women have normal pregnancies and labors.

Midwives are well-trained to recognize complications that may affect the health and safety of mother or baby, and consult with physicians as needed to manage them. Midwives provide ongoing support if a family needs more intensive care in a high-risk situation.

Q: Why should I see a Nurse-Midwife?

A: Nurse-midwifery care is woman-centered, and based on the philosophy that health care should be safe and satisfying. CNMs make every effort to respect the human dignity and cultural diversity of their clients. They are committed to promoting self-determination, the right to obtain complete information about one’s care, and enhancing the normal process of pregnancy and birth through education and supportive intervention.

Women who are generally healthy typically do not need extensive medical interventions to conceive, birth, or feed their babies. Midwives provide information and support to allow women to care for themselves and their babies in the most natural, peaceful way possible.

Q: How safe is midwifery care?

A: Numerous studies have uniformly concluded that Nurse-Midwifery care is safe. CNM care has outcomes that are equal to, and in some ways better than, those of physicians with the same types of patients. CNMs are particularly adept at supporting natural processes and facilitating communication, which helps women avoid complications. CNMs standard practice includes a mechanism for consultation, collaboration, and referral to other medical providers when complications arise. If a woman needs care beyond the midwifery scope of care, the Birth & Beyond midwives assist in accessing and implementing the appropriate level of care for the client’s particular needs.