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What Does a Midwife Do?

I am done having babies and I just started seeing a midwife. Sounds a bit odd, right? Midwives deliver babies! That’s what they do. Wrong. That is far from all they do.

I just realized that my perception of what a midwife actually does was WAY off. In fact, I wish I’d have known more about midwives while I was still having babies! I would have used one!

Here was my very misinformed understanding of what a midwife did:

I would have described a midwife as someone that delivers babies with a holistic, natural, unmedicated approach. I thought of a midwife as someone that did home births and water births.

I knew I wanted to birth my babies at a hospital. Hospitals have NICUs and resources to help in emergencies- for mama and baby. This is a must in my mind to have access to. I also wanted access to pain medicine if I felt the need.

To me, birthing a baby at home is a huge unnecessary risk that I wasn’t willing to take. I also just didn’t want to do it at home due to the mess. It felt odd to me. I like the comfort of the hospital, personally. As a result of this and my perception of what a midwife did, I never bothered to read up on what a midwife actually does!

Anyways, fast forward to yesterday. I had been extremely dissatisfied with my OB care and was looking for a new practice.

We moved about a year ago. Not far, but just far enough that I didn’t want to make the drive to the OB practice I was at. I was pregnant at the time and I was a high risk pregnancy.

The specialist I was seeing along side my OB was also in the new city that I was moving to. So, I had some comfort that I had him to see. I asked him for an OB recommendation, and just went with it.

The practice he referred me to was big and busy and I never saw the same doctor- there were simply too many doctors, and too little appointments. I knew I had to just go with the flow, and I also knew that even if I had seen the same doctor there was no guarantee that would be the OB delivering my baby. It was highly unlikely.

So, I just saw whoever and got through it. Again, I knew I had my specialist taking good care of me, so I honestly wasn’t concerned with who my OB was.

There were so many things I disliked about the office, so when things settled down and I wanted to address some health concerns with my OB, I knew I wanted to find a new doctor that would take my concerns to heart.

I took to a local Facebook group for some recommendations. Several people recommended a midwifery practice. I was intrigued so I clicked on the link and read more. I figured it wasn’t for me though, especially since I was done having babies. I was so wrong!

After loving what I saw on the website, I scheduled an appointment. I am so glad I did. The midwife I met with was the first person in a LONG time to really sit with me and devote her attention to everything I said. We came up with a plan of action that I felt comfortable with after she listened to my concerns and issues.

I was beyond pleased with my experience, and I walked out wishing I’d known more about midwifery when I was still having babies!

What is a Certified Nurse Midwife?

what does a midwife do

A certified nurse midwife (CNM) is basically an advanced registered nurse degree or nurse practitioner. They have a masters degree and tons of training, as they actually birth babies like an OB does. They don’t just call the OB in when it’s time. They are highly trained.

Just like seeing a nurse practitioner as your family doctor, you can see a certified nurse midwife to provide care for all of your women’s health needs.

A CNM provides care before, during and after childbirth. They do everything you’d expect your OB/gynecologist to do.

What Does a Midwife Do?

What a Certified Nurse Midwife Does:

  • Well woman exams
  • Pap smears
  • STD testing
  • Labor and Delivery (in hospitals, not just home births)
  • Postpartum care
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Prescribe medication
  • Provide birth control options
  • Address any other feminine concerns

My understanding now, is that the only thing a midwife does NOT do, is any type of surgical procedure. They work closely with physicians at the hospital or in their practice, and refer surgical needs to the physician. They are highly trained to recognize and deal with complications that arise during and after birth, however.

Honestly, the care I received yesterday was amazing and far beyond what I’ve experienced with most OB’s that I’ve seen.

I was very glad that I gave midwifery a chance. I very much wish that I would have known better what a midwife does. I hands down would have used one for my pregnancies.

I have found that I prefer nurse practitioners as my “family doctor.” I find the care to be more thorough and holistic, big picture. I found the same to be true of the CNM that I saw yesterday.

And I was pleasantly surprised to know that I can even see a midwife after my childbearing days are done. I had such a misinformed idea of what a midwife was.

I immediately knew I needed to write something on the topic and inform others. I think there are a lot of people like me out there that could really benefit from a relationship with a midwife, but don’t fully understand their role.

Yesterday, my midwife prescribed medication. She referred me for a surgical consult. She looked at a swab sample under a microscope while I was there. She did research on options for my continued care while having antiphospholipid syndrome.

She also listened to some of my other (non gynecological) health concerns and started trying to put the pieces together, instead of just focusing on “her area” like most of my other doctors do. My endocrinologist only focuses on my thyroid, etc.

Midwives are not just for unmedicated home births. Midwives do so much more than this, and I think it is so important that women know all of their options.

Commonly asked questions about what midwives are and can do:

What does CNM stand for?

Certified Nurse Midwife

Do Midwives only do home births?

No. Midwives practice in hospitals as well. Certified nurse midwives can practice in all 50 states.

What is the difference between a doctor and a midwife?

Midwives are trained to identify complications quickly. Physicians are trained to handle complications and can perform surgical procedures.

Can midwives do C-sections?

No. A midwife is trained to identify when a c-section is necessary, and they work closely with a team of physicians that can perform the surgical procedure.

Can midwives order tests and prescribe medications?

Yes midwives can order tests and prescribe medications.

What Does a Midwife Do?

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