Mention you’re a midwife and many questions follow. From “Do midwives only deliver babies at home?” to “can I have my baby in water?” There are many myths and misunderstandings surrounding one of the oldest professions. Many more women are choosing to use certified nurse-midwives (CNM) for a more personal childbirth experience, many others are discovering that midwives do more than take care of pregnant women. Read below to help dispel some myths surrounding nurse-midwives.
Myth #1: Women can only see a midwife if they are pregnant
Not true… Nurse-midwives do more than care for pregnant women. Midwives see women for their primary health care need at all stages of life from teenagers to women experiencing menopause; midwives care for all ages. Annual exams, reproductive healthcare needs, screenings and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and well women gynecological care are some of the services midwives can provide.
Myth #2: If I have a Midwife I have to have my baby at home
Not true… Although midwives can attend birth at home the majority of births attended by Nurse-Midwives occur in the hospital. In 2014, 94.3 percent of CNM’s attended births in hospitals, 3 percent in birth centers and 2.7 percent in the home1. Having a baby in the hospital means women get the best of both worlds, personalized care with minimal interventions from midwives and access to OB/GYNs if high risk conditions occur. If women want analgesia in labor they have access to epidurals or IV pain medication when using a midwife in hospital.
Myth #3: Using a midwife is not as safe as using a doctor
Not true… Nurse-midwives are highly trained graduate level nurses that specializing in pregnancy, childbirth and women’s healthcare. They are experts in the care of low risk pregnancies. Midwives work in collaboration and consultation with OB/GYNs. All nurse-midwives are licensed by the State and credentialed by the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM). All CNM’s are required to maintain their qualification and be credentialed by the hospital. Midwives have prescription privileges and can write prescriptions for medications and treatments. CNM’s pride themselves in practicing evidence based care. National studies show Nurse-Midwifery outcomes in the U.S are better than the national average when compared to OB/GYNs. With lower cesarean section rates, less episiotomies and low pre term birth rates nurse-midwives have excellent outcomes.
Myth #4: Using a midwife is cheaper than using a Doctors
Not true… It is a common myth that midwives are less expensive than doctors. The truth is midwives spend more time with women during pre-natal visits and in labor. They listen to women’s needs, focus on what care is needed and therefore use less interventions. Low risk women are less likely to have a cesarean section or epidural with a midwife. The savings are seen in women not having these unnecessary interventions. Midwives salaries are less than those of physicians making midwifery care more cost effective. It is also important to know all major insurance companies and Medicaid cover midwifery services.
Myth #5: Midwives cannot order tests or prescribe medications
Not true… Nurse-midwives can order tests for pregnancy and gynecological care. They are also able to prescribe medications and treatments including birth control and pain medications. It is true that midwives believe in minimal intervention and will try the “less is more” approach when ordering tests and writing prescriptions. Midwives will first encourage life style and dietary changes including the use of alternative remedies as part of their holistic care.
1 CNM/CM-attended Birth Statistics. http://www.midwife.org/CNM/CM-attended-Birth-Statistics
To learn more about the Pavilion for Women’s Midwives, click here.