A Certified Nurse Midwife is the “Best of Both Worlds”
Though midwives have been around for centuries, there is still much confusion today about their roles and capabilities. Probably the most frequently asked question we hear from those new to our practice is, “What exactly is a midwife?” Hopefully, this article will not only answer that question but also will help people understand why we believe we offer the best of both worlds to our expecting couples.
The word midwife means “with woman.” The term conjures up many different images, in part to the fact that they have been helping women through childbirth for centuries. The women in the community trained to do this were referred to as midwives. For decades, the knowledge these women possessed had been passed down to them through the generations. They were the experts long before childbirth moved into hospitals with physicians in the early 20th century.
Formal midwifery education began in England in the 1800’s and then in the United States shortly after. Many different types of programs and training have existed over the years that have contributed to the various types of midwives practicing in this country, adding to the confusion surrounding them. However, the American College of Nurse Midwives is currently trying to standardize the education and training for midwives so that all nurse midwives will eventually hold the title of Certified Nurse Midwife.
Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in nursing, with seventy percent actually having a master’s degree. In addition, they must complete a certificate program in midwifery from an accredited institution, which includes a residency where they work with physicians and other CNM’s to receive their training. The midwives at Triangle Physicians for Women are masters prepared CNMs practicing full-scope midwifery. Full scope midwifery involves providing care to the woman throughout her life cycle from puberty to post-menopause, including pregnancy and childbirth. Our midwives see teens coming in for their first visit as well as manage women during their menopausal years. If needed, the midwives consult with the physicians to determine a plan of care for patients needing surgery or more intense care.
Our physicians are on call along with a midwife 24 hours a day. They are both aware of the status of every patient. During a woman’s labor and childbirth, if all is proceeding normally, the midwife is in attendance and the physician is on call, but readily available. If high-risk situations arise, such as a C-section or vacuum extraction, the physician will be present and will work with the midwife to complete the birth.
“Our Certified Nurse Midwives approach patients from a nursing perspective and medical doctors, whether male or female, tend to approach patients differently than nurses do with a much more direct medical orientation. That means, I believe, that the patient gets the best of both worlds,” says Dr. Vulgaropulos. In addition, “The midwives are more able than doctors to spend added time with our patients, offering counsel and emotional support. And we’re fortunate that most of our midwives have had their own birthing experiences, which is a significant life experience to bring to the patient-caregiver relationship.”
For more information about our midwives, please go to the staff section of our website or call the office and one of them would love to speak with you and answer any additional questions you may have.