Having a baby? No big deal. Get a doctor, go to the hospital, get it over with a quickly as possible…maybe not.
Consider that midwives have been attending births for centuries. They were assisting women well before there were medical schools. The medical profession as been actively trying to discredit midwifery for a very long time. We only need the services of OB surgeons on rare occasions when medically indicated and all other avenues have been explored. Midwives are fully qualified to provide compassionate care to women and their families. Practice philosophies vary so it is important to know how to evaluate this. I hope to help dispel some of the confusion that seem prevalent as I talk with parents.
Midwifery is one of the fastest growing professions in the US. There are more midwives practicing in, and out of hospitals, than ever before. Certified nurse midwives (CNM) provide well woman gyne care, preconception planning, prenatal care, have hospital privileges (regular labor and delivery units, alternative birth centers, and free standing birth centers), and can provide home birth services. They are are trained as nurses first and their midwifery studies are through a masters degree program. They are licensed by the state they practice in as advanced nurse practitioners. In Canada and England, where the vast majority of births are attended by midwives, CNM’s are required to attend home births as part of their training. CNM’s apprentice to gain home birth skills. There is currently one home birth CNM practice, in the Chicago area, that has hospital privileges. This is unusual just happened recently.
Certified professional midwives (CPM) are certified by a national certifying body. They are currently waiting for licensing in IL. Thirty seven other states have licensed this type of midwife including Wisconsin and Missouri. Chiropractors and acupuncturists also had to exert tremendous effort to get licensed in IL. CPM’s can also practice in free standing birth centers. There has been some confusion about training due to CPM’s considering themselves direct entry midwives. Consumer groups are primarily responsible for getting the legislation passed in each state. With little funding for lobbying and a grassroots effort this has taken place in just over half the states in the US.
Contact BirthLink for more information as this can vary from state to state. Home birth midwives all have backup plans if a mother needs medical attention before, during or after birth. It is important to understand how this will work before hiring as different midwives have different back up plans. As a consumer it is a parent’s responsibility to research, interview and check references of midwives they intend to hire. It can be difficult to decide if a midwife is a good fit especially for first time parents. BirthLink provides educational information on our web site and Jo Anne Lindberg, president and founder, offers birth options consultations to help parents make informed decisions. Part of this meeting includes articles and lists of questions to ask when interviewing.