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Is a Certified Nurse-Midwife Right for You?

Have you considered asking a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) to assist in your labor? A certified nurse-midwife has been trained in two disciplines: midwifery and nursing. He or she carries a wonderful blend of reassuring support and medical expertise. Here are the answers to some common questions about midwives.

A midwife's care extends beyond the birth experience to include prenatal care, such as counseling the mother about breastfeeding and infant care. He or she can also offer the mother postpartum care in the form of support and information regarding the physical and emotional changes the mother is experiencing.

CNM Credentials

CNMs must pass an examination by the ACNM Certification Council (ACC). Prior to this examination, the student must graduate from an American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM)-certified program. "Lay midwives" have experience assisting in the process of childbirth, but are not certified by the ACC.

What CNMs Can Do

Certified nurse-midwives are able to administer drugs, perform medical procedures, and provide their clients with other technological interventions, but their basic philosophy is not to do so unless absolutely necessary. Instead, they encourage women to give birth naturally. The result is that fewer c-sections and episiotomies are reported in births attended by midwives. In fact, according to a 1997 study in the American Journal of Public Health, women working with CNMs underwent fewer medical birth interventions than those attended by obstetricians and family doctors.

Common Concerns

The ACNM, which certifies nurse-midwives, reports that "nurse-midwifery care has outcomes that are equal to that of physicians with the same type of patients." But you should carefully explore and evaluate all your birth options. Meet with a physician to rule out any potential complications in your pregnancy before making a decision. In addition, it's important to interview several midwives. Select someone whose qualifications, philosophy, and personality meet your needs.

Questions to Ask

According to the ACNM, here are some questions you should ask when considering a midwife:

  • How long have you been practicing and in what kind of setting?
  • What is your philosophy of care?
  • What are the eligibility requirements for your services?
  • What arrangements do you have if complications occur?
  • What are your fees and will my insurance cover them?
  • Can my family be present during labor and birth?

To find an ACNM educated and certified midwife, call the ACNM's toll-free practice locator line at 888-MIDWIFE.

Source: The American College of Nurse-Midwives

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.