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Professional Advice: Choosing a Midwife

Certified nurse midwife Jolene Hamann shares some of the reasons more women are choosing a midwife for their obstetric care.
Have you ever had someone ask, “Who’s going to deliver your baby?” If you’ve ever been visibly pregnant, it’s likely you have. If you live in the United States, your likely answer is the name of a physician. If it’s ever occurred to you that it may not make sense that most women see a trained surgeon for their routine care during pregnancy and birth, a midwife might be right for you.

Written records of midwives providing care in their communities date back to the 2nd century, well before physicians or surgeons existed. Since then, many changes have occurred in societies and within the profession, so that today the most common type of midwife in the United States is a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). A CNM has experience as a delivery room nurse, has completed a Master’s degree, passed a national certification exam, and can be licensed and prescribe medicines in all 50 states. Most provide care in a doctor’s office and deliver babies only in hospitals.

So why do YOU need a midwife? We’ll discuss the top 5 reasons:

1. Your midwife can provide care for you throughout your life, not just during pregnancy. Midwives provide care for women from adolescence through menopause. This includes birth control, annual exams, pap smears; all types of problems including infections, bleeding irregularities, breast issues, depression, anxiety, trouble conceiving, pain, incontinence, and difficulty with sex (just to name a few).

2. Cesarean sections (C-sections) can have serious short and long-term consequences. There’s the possibility of chronic pain, adhesions, bladder issues, and bowel issues. It can limit the size family that you can have since most of the time not more than 3-4 C-sections are recommended in a lifetime. Miscarriage, stillbirth, placenta abnormalities, and infertility are all more common after C-sections. Though sometimes a C-section is very necessary and life-saving, you’re much less likely to have an unnecessary C-section if you’re under the care of a midwife, even and especially in the hospital.  The rate of C-sections overall is close to 33% in this country. The rate for practices with midwives can be much lower – as low as 10-15% (and closer to the World Health Organization recommendation of not more than 15%).

3. You have a range of options available to you with a midwife. You can have support in trying for as natural a birth as you would like. Or, if plans change, you change your mind, or simply desire to be as pain free as possible with medication,a midwife can order the same pain medicines as all other providers in the hospital.  Midwives are also more likely to help you try to avoid more invasive procedures, like surgery, either through prevention or through alternative treatments whenever they are available.

4. Midwives seek to be your partner in YOUR health care, not subject you to interventions that may or may not have been explained or that may or may not be anything that you want.  One of our basic principles is that we inform you of your options so that you can make decisions for yourself and your family.  This puts you in control and allows for a much more personalized experience. It’s your body, your family, your health. YOU should be in charge. We’re there for the expert guidance and support.

5. Midwives are the experts in normal. We’re also well-trained to be able to prevent problems, recognize problems early, intervene early, and consult our physician/surgeon colleagues when it’s necessary.  Study after study show that we provide very safe care that our patients are very satisfied with.

If you’d like more information on midwifery care and how it can benefit you, please contact our office, OB/Gyn Care Associates at 309-662-2273.

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