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The Certified Nurse Midwife’s Role in Pregnancy and the Birthing Process

January 5th, 2011


The tradition of midwifery has been around for quite some time. Although there are references to midwives in ancient Hindu records, Greek and Roman manuscripts and the Bible, using a midwife has reduced in commonality in the United States in modern years. There are, however, many special roles that a midwife plays in the process of pregnancy and birth and many benefits to seeking the counsel of a certified nurse midwife.

A certified nurse midwife must have at least a bachelor's degree and, possibly, a master's or doctoral degree. They are required to complete both nursing and midwifery training and become licensed for certification in all states. Midwifes often work with doctors to provide patients with the best all-around care. In order to ensure that a midwife has the appropriate certifications, check to see that they have completed a program approved by the American College of Nurse Midwives Division of Accreditation.

A fundamental belief in midwifery is that childbirth is a normal, healthy process, and it should be treated as such until there is evidence to the contrary. This means, that midwives generally tend to take the most natural approach to pregnancy and childbirth as possible, without unnecessary use of sonogram testing or preventative medical procedures. Midwives see their role as one of support to the pregnant woman, so that she may let nature take its course, while still staying safe and educated about the process.

One of the largest parts of midwifery is being by the woman's side during the actual birthing process. They encourage the use of different physical positions to encourage a birth without complications. They also encourage walking around, eating and drinking, rocking and leaning as part of the natural process. This differs from a traditional birthing process which usually requires the mother to lie in bed without much movement.

Certified nurse midwives may also combine their practices with traditional medical interventions, such as labor-inducing drugs, fetal monitoring, pain medications and epidurals, but they may not legally use these techniques without the supervision of a doctor.

A great option for women interested in using a midwife is to see one in conjunction with a medical doctor. Midwives are trained to pinpoint any signs of complications during labor and know many natural techniques that may allow mothers to circumvent things like C-sections by natural means, such as changing positions. However, if complications continue to persist, it is safer to have a doctor who is already present and aware of the state of the birthing process so they may immediately apply any necessary medical interventions.