Who is YOUR Midwife? Myths about midwives and a MASTER DOC of who serves Sheboygan County.
Midwives have long been the main care provider for women prenatally and during labor and birth both here in the U.S. and across the world. Though in the early 1900's the U.S. started to see a huge decline in midwives attending birth. Midwives attended nearly half of all births in 1900 and by the 1930's that number declined to less than 15%. This decrease is attributed to the rise of the medical model of care and modern medicine practice implemented in the United States. Women were subject to "pain free" labor and delivery, but what was actually being done is nothing less than horrific. Twilight birth is a term used to describe how mothers would be completely anesthetized, strapped down, and their children evacuated mechanically out of their bodies. It was widely advertised as the standard of birth. The standard of birth!
Thank God the midwife was persistent! Folklore paints a picture of the midwife as someone dressed in baggy clothes, hair down to her ankles and smells of musky herbs. Sure, some people like that lifestyle and more power to you, but that's not the standard in Midwifery. Some also believe all midwives have no formal training and are accountable to no governing body. While that is partly true, it can be very confusing. Let's sort it out.
MYTHS ABOUT MIDWIVES:
1. All midwives have no formal training.
I mentioned that this point can be confusing and it is half true, some midwives have no formal training. It is important to know that there are different types of midwives. Let's explore further.
Direct Entry Midwives- These are midwives that are legally able to practice in some U.S. states and have advanced training.
Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)- Nationally certified through the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and is not nationally licenced. However, licensure can be obtained through state legislature. Meaning, each individual state makes the choice to legally allow a CPM to practice. This is a huge problem as each state could change the law and all midwives would be subject to criminal prosecution if they attended a birth. Thank Goodness the public is being more and more educated about midwives and the overall movement is in favor of a national accrediting board to license the midwife and make it legal to practice anywhere in the U.S.
Certified Midwife (CM)- Sits for a national exam (same as the nurse midwife), but is not a nurse and is not licensed. Most states do not recognize CM's as legal practitioners.
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)- First obtain a nursing degree from a university. They can then focus their attention on on a midwifery concentration and sit for the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) to become certified as a nurse midwife. Once a certified midwife AND licensed as a nurse they are considered legal in all 50 states. They are most commonly found in free-standing birth centers and in hospitals working under physicians.
2. Midwives only attend births.
Midwives offer care to women through all stages of life. She can walk a teen through a first period and choosing birth control all the way through to menopause.
3. Midwives don't trust doctors.
This myth hits me hard in the chest! A midwife NEEDS a physician she can trust to trust her. Midwives do not take high risk clients because they understand some conditions need to be attended by a physician and if not, could put serious risk to the mother and/or the baby. A good midwife (more on that later) will tell you if you risk out of her care and need to transfer to a doctor. A good doctor will accept the incoming mother with open arms respecting her preferences and how she might be emotionally vulnerable after her birth plans have changed. THEY WORK TOGETHER! Midwives sometimes do not like the way a doctor would handle things and visa versa, but that does not mean they are not thinking of you and your baby's health care. There are red flags for both midwives and doctors that suggest you should change providers, but that will have to wait for another day.
On the flip side, a normal healthy pregnancy does not need to be supervised by a doctor. It is normal and healthy and doctors specialize in solving problems. If there are no problems (94% of pregnancy) there is no need for specialized medical care.
With these myths circulating the web there is no wonder why the midwife doesn't have the trust she needs to gain more momentum. But let's not ignore the elephant in the room. I'm talking about hospital policy dictating and tying the hands of the midwives and physicians working hard to change birth culture in America. I'm also talking about physicians changing the way they approach birth to account for a more emotional and hands off experience for the pregnant and laboring woman.
If pregnancy is typically low risk then let's help our doctors accept this by being advocates for our own health care. If you wish to have a hospital birth, hire a doula and take a birth class to be well educated in the natural process of birth. Speak your mind at your appointments and ask questions at every time! You'll be surprised how much things can change when we all work together.
To make things a little easier, I created a MASTER DOC for Midwives serving Sheboygan County. Take a look and let me know if something needs an update.