A midwife is a medical professional with specialized training in women’s healthcare. She will offer you expert care and support throughout your pregnancy and beyond.
Midwives recognize that each family has their own personal, religious and cultural beliefs. They encourage families to ask questions, spend a lot of time with you listening to your concerns, and provide information so you can make informed choices and decisions based on what is right for you.
The Scope of Midwifery
While most people think of midwives in terms of pregnancy, most nurse midwives focus on a wide range of healthcare needs throughout a woman’s life. Not only do they offer expert care during labor and birth, but they can also provide care for annual gynecological exams, family planning needs, general health and menopausal care.
Midwives may deliver babies at birthing centers, homes, and they also provide care in hospitals. They are a great option for women who prefer as little medical intervention as possible.
Types of Midwives
There are several different types of midwives, and each has their own level of training.
- A Certified Nurse-Midwife is a registered nurse with a graduate degree in midwifery. They have passed the national certification exam of the American Midwifery Certification Board. Like obstetricians, they are able to prescribe medications, and treatments as needed.
- A Certified Midwife has a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than nursing, a graduate degree in midwifery and has passed the national certification exam. They provide the same services as Certified Nurse-Midwives.
- A Certified Professional Midwife obtains training through apprenticeship or an accredited education program. While they can provide pregnancy and postpartum care, they are not able to prescribe medications.
- Other midwives such as those known as lay midwives practice midwifery but haven’t received formal education or passed a national exam.
Midwives Vs. Obstetricians
Both midwives and obstetricians are skilled in providing care for women during pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum. Midwives offer a natural, holistic approach to pregnancy and birth. In most cases, they spend more time with you than an OBGYN would, including time spent supporting you while you are in labor. They are experts in low-risk pregnancy and birth. They are not able to perform surgeries.
Obstetricians are doctors who are experts in pregnancy and birth, and they are also trained to handle any complications that may come up. This means they can handle high-risk pregnancies and perform surgeries.
Choosing Between a Midwife and an Obstetrician
Deciding whether to use a midwife or an OBGYN is a personal decision. There are some factors that may affect your decision in one direction or the other. For example, if you have certain medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, epilepsy, high blood pressure or pregnant with multiples, you will probably require an obstetrician to monitor your pregnancy, although your midwife may be able to co-manage your pregnancy with the obstetrician.
If you are looking for a provider who isn’t likely to use medical intervention and will offer personalized care, you may want to use a midwife. You will probably find a midwife is easily accessible to any questions or concerns you have throughout your pregnancy and she will be present throughout labor and delivery.
At NSAGO we’re proud to say we have the largest private midwifery practice in the area. You can learn more about our midwives here. If you want to see if working with a midwife is a good option for you, contact us at our Wilmette or Glenview office.