Midwives—myths, misconceptions and the role they play through birth and beyond

For centuries, midwives have provided support and care for pregnant women through the labor and delivery process. When most people think of the term midwife, they tend to relate it to a setting involving an in-home, unmedicated birth. However, certified nurse midwives (CNM) do not facilitate home births, they only deliver babies at a hospital, and according to Krista Kranz, CNM, Western OB/GYN, A Division of Ridgeview Clinics, only about half of the pregnant women they see intend for an unmedicated birth experience.

A certified nurse midwife is board certified and trained in two disciplines—nursing and midwifery. The certified nurse midwives who practice at Western OB/GYN all hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing and additionally, a master’s degree or a doctorate in midwifery.

Who are good candidates for using a midwife?

“Generally, low to moderate-risk pregnancies are good candidates for using a midwife; however, with our unique partnership at Western OB/GYN, we collaborate with our team of OB/GYN physicians should high-risk complications arise. This ‘safety net’ that is built into our practice allows for seamless support and consultation from the obstetricians,” explained Kranz.

Prenatal care in the U.S. today is very standardized, which means certified nurse midwives provide much of the same care and testing as a physician would, including frequency of appointments, ultrasounds and lab testing. Because certified nurse midwives deliver babies in hospitals, they offer low intervention rates in the same safe environment as a physician would.

Education, empowerment and shared decision-making

The certified nurse midwives at Western OB/GYN focus on education, shared decision-making and empowering women with the most current health recommendations. “We really put an emphasis on relationship building throughout a woman’s pregnancy, so the appointments tend to be longer, and we genuinely have the opportunity get to know our patients and their growing families,” said Kranz.

One distinction between labor and delivery with a physician versus a certified nurse midwife, Kranz explains, is that the CNM is present throughout the entire labor and delivery process—from the time the mother comes into the hospital until after the baby is born. This provides continuous bedside support, encouragement and advocacy. “We allow the birth process, and all of its beauty, to happen with minimal intervention,” said Kranz.

Many women seen by the CNMs at Western OB/GYN desire to have a water birth, which is a service that a physician does not provide. The nurturing and inviting birthing suites at the Ridgeview Birthing Center feature large, jetted tubs for a more relaxing birthing experience.

Services for postpartum, well-women care and more

Another misconception is that a midwife’s job ends with the birth of the baby. However, certified nurse midwives also provide postpartum care, breastfeeding guidance, family planning, gynecological needs, annual exams and well-women care for women of all ages.

“With the relationships and bonds created, we often have patients whose babies we delivered more than 10 years ago now bringing their daughters in to see us for their first menstrual cycles and annual exams as teenagers. It truly comes full circle,” shared Kranz.

Western OB/GYN, A Division of Ridgeview Clinics, is a long-established, independent practice of board-certified obstetrics and gynecology physicians, certified nurse midwives, certified family nurse practitioner and a physician assistant. As a team, they provide an array of services for women in all stages of life. Learn more about the providers at Western OB/GYN, A Division of Ridgeview Clinics.


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