Midwifery Myths

  • Posted by

The profession of midwifery has evolved with today’s modern health care system. But there are many myths about midwives in the United States based on centuries old images or simple misunderstandings. You might be surprised to learn the truth about some of these common midwifery myths.

True or False? Midwives have no formal education.

FALSE. Most midwives in the United States have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and are required to pass a national certification exam. There are many different types of midwives, each holding different certifications based on their education and/or experience. Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) attend approximately 93% of all midwife-attended births in the United States, and as of 2010 they are required to have a master’s degree in order to practice midwifery.

True or False? Midwives and physicians work together.

TRUE. CNMs work with all members of the health care team, including physicians. Midwifery care fits well with the services provided by obstetricians/gynecologists (OB/GYNs), who are experts in high risk, medical
complications and surgery. By working with OB/GYNs midwives can assure that a specialist is available if a high-risk condition should arise. Likewise, those OB/GYNs here at New Life OB/GYN work with midwives who specialize in care for women through normal, healthy life events. In this way, all women can receive the right care for their individual health care needs.

True or False? Midwives only focus on pregnancy and birth.

FALSE. Midwives have expert knowledge and skill in caring for women through pregnancy, birth, and the post-partum period. But they also do much more. CNMs provide health care services to women in most stages of life, from the teenage years through to menopause, including general health check-ups, screenings and vaccinations; pregnancy, birth and postpartum care; well-woman gynecologic care; diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections; and prescribing medications, including all forms of pain control medications and birth control.

True or False? Midwives can prescribe medications and order tests.

TRUE. CNMs are licensed to prescribe a full range of substances, medications, and treatments, including pain control medications, antibiotics and birth control. They can also order needed medical tests including bloodwork, cultures, mammograms, sonograms and MRIs and CT scans.

True or False? Midwives cannot care for me if I have a chronic health condition or my pregnancy is considered high-risk.

FALSE. Midwives are able to provide different levels of care depending on a woman’s individual health needs. If you have a chronic health condition, our Certified Nurse-Midwife, may still be able to provide all of your direct care services. She works in collaboration with the physicians in New Life OB/GYN to address your personal health care challenges. In a highrisk pregnancy, she can also help you access resources to support your goals for childbirth, provide emotional support during challenging times and work alongside specialists who are experts in your high-risk condition to ensure a safe, healthy outcome for your pregnancy.

True or False? Midwives offer pain relief to women during labor.

TRUE. Midwives are leading experts in how to cope with labor pain. As a partner with you in your health care, our midwives will explain pain relief options and help you develop a birth plan that best fits your personal needs and desires. Whether you wish to use methods such as relaxation techniques, hypnotherapy, IV sedation or epidural, the midwives of New Life Wellness strive to work with you to help you meet your desired approach to birth. At the same time, we can provide you with information and resources about the different options and choices available if any changes to your birth plan becomes necessary or if you change your mind. The pain management physicians that New Life Wellness works closely with during labor are available for a consult prior to labor or a scheduled cesarean section if you have any health concerns or questions that need to be addressed by an anesthesiologist.

True or False? Midwives only attend births at home.

FALSE. Midwives practice in many different settings, including hospitals, medical offices, free-standing birth centers, clinics, and/or private settings such as your home.

Why Would I Choose a Midwife for Care During My Pregnancy?

A midwife’s care is based on the idea that the woman is the central decision maker in matters regarding her birth and her child. Her goal is the health and well being of mother and baby. She has the resources, wisdom and professional training to safely guide the journey of pregnancy. CNMs/CMs believe you need time and special attention so you can be healthy and able to take care of your baby. Midwives are experts in knowing the difference between normal changes that occur during pregnancy and symptoms that require extra attention.

What if I Want Pain Medicine During Labor?

If you decide you want pain medicine during labor, your midwife can give you information on available medicines and prescribe it for you.

Is midwifery care safe?

Midwifery is based in evidence-based practice and professional standards, along with a deep understanding of the normal, natural events in a women’s lifespan. Midwives approach women’s health care based on researched evidence and clinical expertise, while also considering a women’s own values.

The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) has joined with other national health care organizations to develop and endorse principles for client safety in childbirth. These principles promote care based on scientific knowledge, respectful coordination of care between different members of the health care team, active involvement of patients and their families, and a commitment to always improving the quality of care. Together, these principles help promote the highest standards for quality and safety in maternity care in the United States.

Will my midwife provide the pain relief options and medical procedures I want to have during labor?

Your midwife will partner with you on making decisions around pain relief techniques, such as the use of an epidural during labor, and make sure that you receive the type of pain relief you need and want. Whether you wish to use methods such as relaxation techniques or ambulation/walking during labor or try IV sedation, epidural or other medications, your midwife will work with you to help meet your desired approach to birth. At the same time, your midwife will provide you with the information and resources about the different options and choices available if any changes to your birth plan become necessary or if you change your mind.

Most midwives favor an approach to pregnancy, labor, and birth that is based on normal, bodily processes rather than on the use of medical procedures; an approach that is strongly supported by current research. The midwifery model of care does not support routinely using medical procedures if there is no clear reason for them or if their use is not supported by research. For example, scheduling a labor induction or a cesarean section for no clear reason is not supported by research and can often lead to unwanted problems. However, when a medical procedure is necessary, your midwife will work with you to ensure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision about your care and to be sure you are aware of any options or alternatives that may also be available.

What role will my partner play during my midwife-attended birth?

Giving birth is a family event and your midwife will work with you to create a birth plan that meets your individual desires and needs as a family. You and your partner/family will decide on the level of involvement that’s best for you. Your midwife will encourage you to have the people that are important to you with you
and around you during labor and birth.

Will my insurance cover the care of a midwife?

Thirty-three states require private insurance companies to pay for services provided by Certified Nurse-Midwives, and Medicaid coverage for CNMs is required in all states. Before choosing any new care provider, check to be sure that your insurance will cover the service and make sure the provider accepts your specific insurance plan. If in doubt, please contact us.