May 5th is National Midwives Day!
I’ve had the honor to work alongside and capture some truly amazing midwives and wanted to take a moment to highlight and celebrate what an asset they are to the birth community in the Manhattan area.
Midwives are medically trained birth professionals who not only provide prenatal care and support for labor and birth, but many midwives also offer well-women, postpartum and newborn care. A Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) can generally do everything that an obstetrician can with the exception of surgeries. Midwives typically only handle low to moderate risk pregnancies. While some midwives primarily service home births, you can find excellent midwifery care at some of our local hospitals.
Here are a few quick FAQs about midwives:
Q: What is the difference between a doctor and a midwife?
A: The main difference between the two is where and what kind of training they receive. Obstetricians specialize in pregnancy and birth and receive their training in medical school, while midwives complete a specialty midwifery training program. Generally speaking, the midwifery model of care treats pregnancy and birth as normal events, not medical ones. The focus is on maintaining a healthy pregnancy so as to prevent any need for medical intervention. Obstetrical, or medical management, tends more toward the use of interventions and procedures to guide and control labor and delivery. While an OB will usually check in on a mother during labor and then show up to deliver the baby, midwives are often with her throughout her labor and delivery and prenatal appointments tend to be longer and more personalized.
Q: Will I have access to the same tests and medications that a doctor would provide?
A: Midwives can order most lab work and diagnostics and may be able to order prescriptions.
Q: Are there different kinds of midwives?
A: While neither accreditation is currently required for home birth midwives in Kansas, you will typically find that midwives practicing at hospitals and birth centers are Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM) with at least a bachelor’s degree and certification by the American College of Nurse Midwives. CNMs can provide the most comprehensive health care usually including gynecological exams, family planning, prenatal care, birth support, and newborn care. Home birth midwives are either Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) meeting the standards of the North American Registry of Midwives, Direct-Entry Midwives (DEM) who are independent individually trained through various sources, or a Lay Midwife who is an individual not certified or licensed, but has received informal training.
Q: What are some of the advantages of using a midwife?
A: If you would like to experience childbirth as naturally as possible, you should consider birthing in a location where a midwife can oversee your pregnancy, labor and birth. According to the American College of Nurse Midwives, and per www.AmericanPregnancy.org, here are some of the benefits that have been documented over time:
- Decreased risk of needing a cesarean
- Reduced rates of labor induction and augmentation
- Reduced use of regional anesthesia
- Decreased infant mortality rates
- Decreased risk of preterm birth
- Decreased third and fourth degree perineal tears
- Lower costs for both clients and insurers
- Increased chances of having a positive start to breastfeeding
- Increased satisfaction with quality of care
Q: What is the difference between a midwife and a doula?
A: While a midwife is medically trained, a doula is more of a coach or support person. Many doulas are trained and certified to provide professional care in your birth space through emotional and physical support, but are not there to provide medical advice or care. A midwife takes the place of an OB for everything but surgical situations and typically spends a lot more time with mamas throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery than a doctor will. Whether you delivery at home, in a birth center, or a hospital, a doula can provide a variety of incredibly important services and individualized support alongside a midwife or doctor and of course your favorite birth photographer. 😉
Q: Can I still have a midwife if I don’t want a home birth?
A: In the Manhattan area, both Irwin Army Community Hospital in Fort Riley and Geary Community Hospital in Junction City have midwives on their staff.
I delivered my Little Leapling at the Topeka Birth & Women’s Center where I was taken care of by three incredible midwives during my labor.
Q: Does having a midwife mean I can’t get an epidural?
A: That will depend on your place of birth. Epidurals are not options at home birth and birthing centers, but if you are in a hospital, you will likely have the same interventions and pain management options provided by doctors. That said, midwives believe that the physiological process of birth works best without interference and tend to have a low intervention approach to birth. They typically use natural alternatives such as water, position changes and continuous labor support to help cope with pain rather than routine use of drugs and birth technology. While sometimes necessary, midwives regard epidurals, drugs, and other medical technology as tools rather than routine interventions.
Q: Are there any home birth midwives here in Manhattan?
A: There are some excellent midwives who travel from other cities and we also now have a phenomenal midwife here in Manhattan! While I have yet to capture Rachel Andresen in action during a home birth, I did recently have the privilege to get some pictures of her during a hospital transfer for one of her clients whose pregnancy became high risk.
Okay, enough chatter. I want to show off some more of these ladies in action!
Enjoy this mix of hospital and home birth images including some of our local and nearby midwives. If you have any questions about midwives, post in the comments!
Happy National Midwives Day!
There are some great articles posted about midwives on the Kansas Midwives Alliance Facebook page.
You can find more information about these featured midwives by clicking on their names below!