What Is A Midwife

Written by: BeHerVillage Team
Posted: May 04, 2024
A midwife is a trained professional who assists women during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the early postpartum period. Midwives are trained to focus on the normal aspects of prenatal care and childbirth, providing a holistic approach that emphasizes the natural ability of women to birth their babies with minimal intervention.
While there are plenty of great reasons for women to work with an OB, many women choose a midwife instead for their prenatal care. There is occasionally a misconception that a midwife is only for a home birth– and while many do attend home births, many midwives practice at a birthing center or a hospital. Aside from performing surgeries, midwives can generally perform the same functions as an obstetrician. 


A Midwife’s Scope of Practice


Prenatal Care:

Midwives conduct regular check-ups and screenings, advise their patients on diet and exercise, and act as a resource of information and support throughout the pregnancy. Midwives build a relationship with both the expectant mom and her partner to provide personalized education to prepare the mom (and her family) for birth.


Labor & Delivery Support:

Midwives offer hands-on support during labor and delivery– from pain management techniques, to birth positioning suggestions, to monitoring baby– midwives keep a close eye on the mom as she progresses while allowing her and her body to do their thing.
They also help deliver the placenta, assist with the newborn screenings, as well as stitch up any tearing that may have happened during birth.
While midwives are not equipped to perform emergency surgeries, they are trained to recognize complications that may need further medical interventions.

Postpartum Support:
Midwives offer early postpartum support to help their patients transition into parenthood. They offer early breastfeeding support and advice on newborn care, as well as closely monitoring the mom’s physical and emotional recovery after birth.


Family Planning and Gynecological Exams:

Midwives provide routine reproductive health exams and counseling on family planning options. 


When choosing a care provider for your pregnancy and birth, many women prefer midwives due to their unique qualities and approach to childbirth care.

Personalized Care and Support: 

Midwives are known for establishing nurturing relationships with their clients, providing extensive prenatal visits, and being readily accessible, with many available for consultation via text message throughout pregnancy. Prenatal visits are warm and welcoming, covering the normal check ups, but also leaving space for questions, planning and connecting. Midwives help expectant moms believe in their own body and their own strength, and instill this idea throughout pregnancy so they feel capable and ready at birth.
This care extends into the postpartum period as well, where midwives continue to offer support through home visits or office appointments to ensure mothers are healing well, both physically and emotionally. They provide guidance on newborn care, breastfeeding, and can help address any concerns about the mother's or baby’s health, providing resources and references to other professionals if needed. 

A Focus on Minimal Intervention:

Midwifery care is grounded in the philosophy that childbirth is a natural process that requires minimal medical intervention. Midwives treat their patients with care and compassion, believing in the body’s innate wisdom and strength to give birth. While midwives focus on minimal interventions, they also are trained to know when and if a medical intervention is necessary, and how to  handle it safely.

Education and Empowerment:

Midwives educate their patients about the various aspects of health, pregnancy, and childbirth, empowering women to make informed choices. Midwives offer many resources to their patients, discuss pros and cons of different decisions, but ultimately allow the patient to have the final say. Women who work with a midwife feel informed and well-prepared heading into birth.


Supportive of Various Birth Plans:

Midwives support a variety of birth settings—home, birth center, or hospital—depending on the mother's preferences. Working with a midwife allows you to keep your options open as far as location of birth. For instance, you might not be totally set on a home birth, but over the course of your pregnancy and working with your midwife, you might feel more comfortable and end up deciding to give birth at home. Similarly, if you were hoping for a home birth but in your last month of pregnancy decide you’d rather be in the hospital with your midwife– you can!
Midwives understand that the more comfortable and confident an expectant mom is regarding her birth plan & location, the more comfortable and confident she’ll be when the big day arrives. They want to support you to feel your best to make decisions that align with your needs and desires.

You can rest assured knowing that your midwife has been highly trained to help you and your baby during pregnancy and birth

While midwives don’t hold the same type of credentials as an OB, they do have their own education, certification and credentialing process to ensure they are properly trained. In the US, there are several types of midwives, each with their own training and practice parameters.
  • Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs): Registered nurses who have graduated from a nurse-midwifery education program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) and have passed a national certification exam. They can practice in all healthcare settings.
  • Certified Midwives (CMs): Individuals who possess a background in a health-related field other than nursing and have graduated from an ACME-accredited midwifery education program. CMs also pass a similar national certification exam as CNMs but are not as widely recognized as CNMs in all states.
  • Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs): Midwives who have met the certification standards of the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and are trained to provide prenatal, birth, and postpartum care in out-of-hospital settings such as homes and independent birth centers.

When looking for a midwife, it’s important to understand your own priorities and requirements. Some folks only want to work with a midwife who has more widely recognized credentials, while some worry less about the credentials and more about reputation. Take the time to interview the midwives in your area to get a feel for their style of practice, their experience level and to get some references to hear others’ experiences.


Using a midwife for pregnancy and birth can be an empowering decision

Midwives offer a comprehensive, respectful, and personalized approach to childbirth and prenatal care. For women seeking a natural or more holistic pregnancy and childbirth experience with an emphasis on personal empowerment, partnering with a midwife can be an excellent choice. By understanding and respecting the natural progression of pregnancy and labor, midwives provide valuable support that aligns with the needs and desires of many expectant mothers.

You can use the BeHerVillage registry to find and fund your midwife

When you register with BeHerVillage, you can browse through the available midwives in your area, put them on your registry, and get them funded by your loved ones as a baby shower gift. 


More resources about Midwives:

The difference between a midwife and a doula (because they’re not the same): behervillage.com/blog/the-difference-between-a-doula-and-a-midwife


BeHerVillage is helping parents like you get the funds they need for the support they deserve! Are you having a baby and are looking for support? Create a registry for support today and get gifted funds directly into your bank account to pay for your support team. You deserve this.

Are you a birthworker who supports new moms? Use BeHerVillage to help your clients pay for your support. Create your free profile here and you can be the best baby shower gift a mom will ever get!
Category: BeHerVillage Registry Guide , Getting Ready For Your Baby
Tags: midwife , home birth , hospital birth


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