October 2, 2017

Defining “Midwife” and What It Means to Me to Be a Midwife

By Anne Karner, Certified Nurse Midwife

The word “midwife” is a bit foreign to some people, so I think it’s important to explore exactly what it means.

The etymology of “midwife” shows a translation to “with women,” originating from Middle English. This definition rings true to this day, as midwives focus on the promotion of women’s health through a “with women” model of healthcare that is usually relationship based.

Midwives must know a woman well if she is to effectively care for and advocate for her health. Midwives throughout time have been honored to be “with women” in their most vulnerable, challenging, enlightening and joyful moments. These moments may be centered around birth, loss or health changes. Midwives are allowed into a woman’s life in such intimate times that often the healthcare relationship shares a deeper bond.

Modern midwives are busy. We are showing that our ancient profession is a fit for the healthcare system of today. We generate research to demonstrate the excellent outcomes of midwife care. Women are highly satisfied, healthcare costs are lowered and health outcomes are comparable or exceed national averages when midwives provide healthcare.

We are working with physicians to accept “normal birth” as the desired outcome. We are working to be accepted as a modern profession that is an indispensable part of healthcare delivery systems today. The question must also be asked: is modern healthcare a fit for our profession?

Behind the important work of promoting our professional validation as midwives and working to improve health through accumulating evidence is the experience of the women who is “with” the midwife. She often consciously chooses midwifery care, and in so makes her own economic and political healthcare choices.

Midwifery is a modern profession because women today choose the model of care. Midwives who practice the “with women” model listen to our patient – we empathize but don’t judge, we understand and we support her wishes because we trust her judgment. We believe in the capabilities of our patients. We provide personalized healthcare that represents the ideal and is truly a patient-centered healthcare model.


Anne Karner is a Certified Nurse Midwife and practices at Mission Women’s Care Franklin. To schedule an appointment or for questions, call (828) 349-8288.

Midwifery services are also available in Marion, Spruce Pine and Burnsville. For more information or appointments at these locations, call (828) 659-3621.

To learn more about all Women’s Health Services, visit womens.mission-health.org.

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