Grace Rice, CNM (certified nurse midwife), at Mission Women’s Care, sheds light on common midwife misconceptions. Rice emphasizes that whether you choose a doctor or midwife, your comfort level comes first: “The best caregiving relationships happen when communication is open, decisions are shared and mutual trust has been established.”
MYTH 1: Doctors are safer than midwives.
TRUTH: Solid research over the years has shown that midwives are just as safe as doctors when attending normal, healthy births with common complications. In reality, a CNM generally works in collaboration with a doctor who is consulted if complications arise. OB/GYN physicians specialize in high-risk pregnancies and births, and are trained surgeons when cesarean deliveries are medically indicated. The best patient care is team-based, and Mission Health is committed to multidisciplinary teams of caring women’s health providers.
MYTH 2: Midwives can’t (or won’t) prescribe medication.
TRUTH: Actually, CNMs can and do prescribe the same medications as doctors. Midwives have many comfort measures to offer and pain relief tricks up our sleeves, like massage, acupressure, hydrotherapy (warm showers and birth tubs), position changes and birth balls; but using all of the resources available to us includes pain relief medications and epidurals. Midwives also routinely prescribe medications to treat infections and provide birth control.
MYTH 3: Midwives and doulas are the same.
TRUTH: Doulas are a resource for those families who desire additional support beyond that of a CNM during their labor and birth experience. Doulas are trained childbirth coaches who give comfort and guidance throughout labor, including many of the nonpharmacological pain relief methods described in this article. Research has shown that having a doula decreases a woman’s need for pharmacological pain relief and intervention in labor.
MYTH 4: Midwives only assist in home births.
TRUTH: Many midwives do choose to provide home birth services, but midwives work in a variety of settings. You’ll find CNMs all over the US offering well-woman, prenatal and birth services at hospitals, clinics, birth centers and at home.
MYTH 5: Midwives just deliver babies.
TRUTH: Midwives actually provide a wide range of services including well-woman care (like Pap testing and contraception) in addition to prenatal and birth care. Women can establish a relationship with a midwife as their health provider, from adolescence and childbearing to menopause and beyond, like an OB/GYN.
Grace Rice, CNM, practices at Mission Women’s Care.