Making a very personal decision on the type of birth plan you want can be overwhelming—here are a few tips to consider.
“I never dreamed I’d use a midwife to deliver my baby, but I’ve heard it’s an intimate and nurturing experience.”
That’s a common revelation I hear from many women during their initial visit. As a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM), I frequently see new patients who are surprised to be in my office—they assumed a traditional physician-attended birth was their only alternative for their in-hospital birth. Often they were referred to The Women’s Healthcare Group from a friend or relative who used a CNM or a mother who has read up on contemporary midwifery.
Many patients who seek midwifery care are those who have done their research and discovered we’re an integral part of childbirth. We educate them to make informed choices that best suits their desires. Long gone are the days when midwives were thought of as untrained coaches who only helped women deliver babies at home. Midwifery, which has evolved over centuries, is steeped in misconception—much of it not applicable in today’s healthcare landscape.
Here are six reasons to consider choosing a CNM for your pregnancy.
*Certified Nurse Midwives are medical professionals. CNM’s are registered nurses—most with master or doctoral degrees—who have completed an accredited graduate program and passed a national certifying exam. Rigorous training involves routine obstetrics and gynecology, routine well-woman primary care and newborn care. A CNM is a low-risk pregnancy specialist, while an ObGyn physician receives advanced surgical and high-risk care training. According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, 97 percent of midwives practice in hospital settings and physician offices, which means convenient access to technology, ultrasound, lab studies and more. CNM’s go far beyond helping women design a personalized birth plan and delivering babies by providing education, prevention, annual wellness checkups and examinations.
*Midwives are mainstream. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, CNMs and Certified Midwives (CM) attended 332,107 births in 2014, representing 12.1 percent of all vaginal births, or 8.3 percent of total U.S. births. And CNMs/CMs account for more than 90 percent of all midwife-attended births since 1989, the first year that CNM/CM statistics were reported.
*Midwives focus on healthy pregnancies, delivering babies—and much, much more. The modern midwife enjoys a much broader scope of practice than in the past and builds long-term relationships with patients, from the first pelvic exam beyond menopause. We get to know a woman’s medical history, which helps in decision-making and treating gynecologic conditions and, overall, endeavor to help women maintain a lifetime of health.
*Midwife literally means “with woman.” One of our greatest attributes is a compassionate, woman-centered approach. We get to know you your partner and offer both emotional and physical support during prenatal visits, labor, delivery and the postpartum period. And we’re adept at helping new moms with breastfeeding, handling anxieties and improving nutrition.
*Midwives collaborate with ObGyns for high-risk birth situations. Part of a midwife’s training and education involves respect for both normal and high-risk situations that require a physician consultation. We work with Board Certified ObGyns , especially when a C-section is necessary or other unexpected circumstances arise.
*Midwives are interested in improving the birthing experience. Birth plans allow caregivers to understand expectant parents in terms of their emotional and physical expectations and reflect values, hopes and dreams for the birth process, as well as an attitude of collaboration and trust between expectant parents and their care team. And while plans include preferences—such as pain medication vs. non-pharmaceutical options like acupressure, massage and hydrotherapy—it’s important to understand that, if there are changes in a woman’s health or environment, a different game plan before and during labor may be necessary.