While midwives are becoming more and more common throughout the United States, many people still don’t know what they are, and there are a lot of common misconceptions about them. Here are some myths about midwives, and why they aren’t true:
1) “A midwife can only do home births.” There are a few paths to becoming a midwife in the United States, but the most common one is becoming a certified nurse midwife (CNM). A CNM is a type of nurse practitioner, meaning they all are registered nurses (RNs) who receive at least 2 years of additional training with a master’s degree in nursing to become a CNM. Most certified nurse midwives (about 94%) attend births in the hospital. The remaining do attend births out-of-hospital in either a birth center or at home. All the midwives at True Harmony are CNMs.
2) “I can only see a midwife if I am pregnant.” Working with pregnancy and birth is a large part of a midwife’s job, but it is far from the only area they care for. Midwives are trained to work with the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health from the start of puberty through menopause. This means you can see a midwife for your annual well GYN visit and for topics such as birth control, hormone issues such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), fertility, endometriosis, sexually transmitted infections, menopausal changes, pain with intercourse, or vaginal infections…just to list a few!
3) “Aren’t midwives and doulas the same thing?” Doulas and midwives have very different roles. A doula is a nonmedical support person for labor, birth, and the postpartum period. They can provide comfort measures and help facilitate communication between you and your birth team, but they are not responsible for any medical decisions or medical care. Midwives are providers, and therefore work with you in making medical decisions throughout your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. Midwives can and do provide support in labor as well, but their first job is to make sure you and your baby are healthy. For more information on doulas, see our recent blog post all about doula care.
4) “I can only see a doctor for pregnancy and birth.” Midwives and doctors also have different roles. Midwives are trained to work with normal, healthy pregnancies and birth as well as common complications. Because they are used to working with normal, they are very good at being able to quickly tell when things become abnormal. A doctor’s training has more focus with people who are more medically complex, and they are also surgeons, so if a C-Section or other surgery is needed they are the ones performing it. At True Harmony, your doctors and midwives work together as a team to give you the best care possible.
5) “I can’t get an epidural if I see a midwife.” The term midwife means “with women.” This means that midwives want to work with you and support YOUR decisions. If you are hoping for an unmedicated, natural birth, we will support you in that goal and work with you to prepare for coping in labor. If you are wanting an epidural or another method for managing pain, we will support you with that plan. It is your body and your decision for how you cope in labor!
Do you have more questions about midwives or interested in seeing a midwife for your next appointment? Call our office at (480) 539-6646.