What is A Midwife?

MidwifeWhat is a Midwife? As health care costs rise, many begin to seek alternatives to traditional hospital procedures and women begin asking this question more and more as they begin to think about pregnancy and birth. Simply put, a midwife is a trained medical professional who manages the reproductive health of female patients, and provides a unique perspective and management philosophy of pregnancy and childbirth.

Midwifery Philosophy of Care

When asking “What is a Midwife?” one begins to delve into a bit of history. Midwives have been around for centuries as trained care providers for women’s health issues. Midwives provided general reproductive health care, pregnancy care, postpartum support, and infant care for the majority of women before the advent of modern medicine. Currently, midwives are often turned to by those seeking a holistic approach to pregnancy, according to the Midwives Association of Washington State.

Midwifery practice focuses on fostering relationships with women in the community, and assisting them through one of the biggest transitional phases of their lives both physically and emotionally. A woman can seek care from a midwife throughout all stages of her life, but they are most often used during pregnancy and childbirth. By offering a holistic approach with little to no interventions during labor and delivery, midwives help reduce medical costs, and women who deliver with midwives report being more satisfied with their experience than those who choose traditional obstetric providers.

Midwifery Certification

According to the Midwives Alliance of North America, there are several different variations of what a midwife is, but the two most common are Certified Nurse-Midwives and Certified Professional Midwifes.

  • Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) – A CNM has a degree in nursing with a graduate degree in midwifery. Certification involves a degree from a university and hands-on clinical training from practicing midwives. Midwives with this certification are able to provide treatment in hospitals, but also perform out of hospital births or births in a birthing center in addition to reproductive care. This is the most common type of midwifery certification in the US.
  • Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) – CPM’s are trained either through an apprenticeship program or through a formal education program. While CNMs can provide health care for a woman throughout her life, CPMs focus primarily on pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care. CPMs are trained to provide labor and delivery both out-of-hospital and in birthing centers.

Why Choose a Midwife?

It’s a common misconception that the only choice for care during pregnancy is with a traditional OB/GYN, but more and more women and their partners are seeking care outside of the hospital. Midwives cater more towards the holistic and spiritual needs of women and their partners as they transition into parenthood, approaching pregnancy, labor, and delivery as natural parts of life rather than medical procedures.

If you are wishing to take a more holistic approach to your reproductive care, or want more individualized care during your pregnancy and as few interventions as possible during labor and delivery, midwifery care would be a good choice. Many midwives work with insurance plans to provide for their services, and with rising health care costs for procedures some hospitals consider standard, a midwife can actually end up saving you money.

Related Resource: General Practitioner

A midwife is a woman trained in the art of handling the emotional and physical needs of a laboring soon-to-be mother. A midwife is a health care professional focused on the emotional and physical needs of both mother and child. What is a midwife? A midwife is a profession hundreds of years in the making, and a viable choice for anyone wanting holistic reproductive care with a focus on natural, intervention-free labor and delivery.