What Can Midwives Do?
Certified nurse midwives may work in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, clinics, and free-standing birthing centers. Often they will work with doctors, but may also provide their services as independent practitioners. They don't perform surgery such as C-sections, but they do provide most routine women's health services. The wide range of services a CNM provides includes:
- Monitoring the health of pregnant women and their unborn babies.
- Providing follow-up care after delivery and advice on breastfeeding.
- Writing prescriptions for medications and vitamins (in most states).
- Discussing reproductive health issues.
- Providing routine gynecological care such as Pap smears and breast examinations.
How to Find A Midwife
The best way to find a good midwife is to ask for a recommendation from someone in the healthcare profession who works with many midwives. If the midwife is associated with a hospital, you can ask personnel there. You could call the labor and delivery unit of the hospital closest to you or where you plan to deliver. Hospitals may have evening programs during which you can meet several potential obstetrical care providers, including midwives. The American College of Nurse Midwives can also help you find a midwife in your area.
While most pregnancies proceed normally and with minimal intervention, a small percentage of deliveries require high-tech interventions. One of the most important aspects of midwifery, especially if it involves home birthing, is a clear plan for dealing with emergencies when technological intervention can be lifesaving. Most certified nurse midwives collaborate with physicians so problems requiring medical or surgical intervention are quickly addressed. When selecting a midwife, ask about a back-up plan—whether she will have available the entire range of medical and surgical services for your treatment.
Certified nurse midwives are generally competent, compassionate, and conscientious. They excel at education, avoiding high-tech interventions, and being sensitive to their patients' feelings. Having the right midwife provide your healthcare and deliver your baby can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience.