I am going to take this time to answer some of the top questions that are asked about midwives so that you are better able to make a good informed decision in regards to planning the delivery of your child. Some women feel more comfortable with a doctor; others feel more comfortable with a midwife. The choice is overall completely up to you, you just need to determine for yourself, which you truly prefer and make sure it is a decision you are happy and comfortable with, and do not let the opinions of others sway your decision.
Question #1. What is a midwife?
A midwife is a woman who assists in the birth of a baby. Typically, they are highly trained and they often help you deliver your baby from the comforts of your home. Some states require that midwives be licensed nurses, but this is not always a requirement. The goal of a midwife is to minimize medical intervention as much as physically and safely possible.
Question #2. What is a nurse midwife?
A nurse midwife is simply a midwife who is also a certified nurse. They have trained and studied the two disciplines of being a midwife as well as nursing and are able to provide a bit more medical care than a normal midwife. This does not put them on the same level as a doctor however, they are able to provide care such as prenatal care, labor care, delivery care, caring for the mother after the birth, gynecological exams, caring for the newborn until such time as a pediatrician takes over, and often times a nurse midwife assists with preconception care, and family planning. Most births where a nurse midwife is chosen takes place in a hospital instead of the mother’s home.
Question #3. So a midwife is just like a doula?
No, a midwife and a doula are completely different. A doula is only at the birth to give emotional and physical support to the laboring couple, while a midwife is actually at the birth to deliver the baby. It is not necessary to have a doula if you use a midwife, nor is it necessary to use a midwife if you are using a doula. Many women opt for a doula to assist during labor and delivery simply because a doula is a woman who has been trained to help the laboring mother relax and provide a good support base.
Question #4. Can I change to a doctor later? Or change from a doctor to a midwife?
Absolutely, while most doctors prefer patients change before the 6th month of pregnancy it is possible to switch almost up until the moment of delivery. Most providers discourage this highly and prefer that mothers know their provider prior to delivery so that you have some relationship built up so that you are perfectly comfortable with your provider. The option of switching or choosing to switch is entirely up to you.