Before you buy maternity pants, before the What to Expect book becomes required reading, even before you stock up on those 1-minute pregnancy test sticks, it’s good to decide on a prenatal care provider who will see you through your pregnancy and child birth.
The options usually begin with doctors in your insurance network or recommended by friends. But consider the growing popularity of certified nurse-midwives – and your own preferences about your medical care.
Midwives reflects a philosophy of care that is tailored to your individual reproductive needs while eliminating or minimizing medical interventions. This is based on the belief that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes.
A certified nurse-midwife (CNM) is trained and licensed in nursing and midwifery. Minimally, they must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, have graduated from an American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM)-certified program, and have passed an examination by the ACNM Certification Council.
Certified nurse-midwives are able to administer drugs, perform medical procedures, and provide their patients with other technological interventions, but their philosophy is not to do so unless absolutely necessary.
If the thought of labor and delivery without an epidural has you running for the door, then pause and consider the benefits of CNMs over physician care:
- Fewer interventions
- Lower rate of C-sections
- Few episiotomies and tears
- Lower rates of labor induction
- Lower infant mortality and preterm birth
- Higher satisfaction with care
An added benefit: CNMs typically are a lower cost option for patients as well as insurance companies.
CNM services mirror OB-GYNs or are offered in conjunction with them. They routinely consult with obstetricians, perinatologists, and other healthcare professionals, and will refer women to appropriate medical professionals if complications arise.
Certified nurse-midwives typically offer: gynecological exams, family planning and preconception care, prenatal care, labor and delivery support, newborn care, and menopausal management. They also offer patient-focused education in fertility, nutrition, exercise, contraception, pregnancy health, breastfeeding, and infant care.
The educational element of CNMs has led many OB practices to add CNMs to their staff, as patients crave information and are often frustrated by conflicting advice online and from friends.
CNMs are a great alternative to medical care from an OB or GYN physician but they’re not for every woman. Those with chronic medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, epilepsy, heart disease, or diabetes, or those at high risk or with multiples should seek a physician specializing in pregnancies with those kind of risk factors.
For those women looking to have a more individual experience, a natural childbirth experience, or fewer interventions, a CNM might be perfect. The most important thing to remember is that choosing a midwife doesn’t mean medical options aren’t available. At StoneSprings Hospital Center, CNMs have physician oversight and access to all medical treatments and personnel should complications arise.
Learn more about CNMs at StoneSprings Hospital Center. And then pick up some of those maternity pants… they are so comfortable!