It is important to truly understand the philosophy and background of your birth attendant prior to choosing one. While there are several different types of “midwives” this article is geared toward Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs or Nurse Midwives). Nurse midwives are nurses with a baccalaureate degree that choose to continue their education focusing on midwifery and obtaining their Master of Science in Nursing. CNMs are nationally certified through the American Midwifery Certification Board and licensed through their state. Many are also members of the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM). The ACNM plays a big role in many aspects of midwifery and their contribution to the profession is exceptional.
Certified nurse midwives are advanced practice nurses that care for women during labor and birth and beyond. Midwives function as primary care providers, researchers, teachers and legislative pioneers (ACNMb, n.d.) Many midwives in South Carolina practice in the hospital setting. The goal of hospital-based Nurse Midwives is to provide women with a safe, caring environment where you are supported and respected while maintaining a system of emergency measures that are immediately available. While many hospital births do come with certain requirements, for example an IV heplock, a hospital based Nurse Midwife still aims to help women achieve the birth experience that they long for. CNMs in South Carolina can also practice in independent Birth Centers. Wherever the setting, midwives in every area empower women to take a more active role in their care and play a large part in reducing maternal and child mortality rates (ACNMb, n.d.).
Through it’s educational requirements and regulatory standards the care of a Certified Nurse Midwife is sure to be evidence based and family centered. The Midwife philosophy focuses on the fact that pregnancy and childbirth are normal and healthy processes. Nurse midwives focus on the whole woman from diet and health habits to the role that spirituality and emotions play in pregnancy and birth. CNMs care primarily for low-risk healthy women and babies and do not perform surgery or take care of complicated cases. In labor, midwives are involved in the entire process from support during contractions to management of the birth and postpartum period. Midwives are trained to manage emergency situations should they arise and know when it is time to call for physician backup. Understanding the background and scope of your birth attendant is essential when considering the impact that the location and choice of birth attendant can have on the entire labor and birth process.
ACNMa. (n.d.) About the ACNM Core Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice. Retrieved January 12, 2014 from http://www.midwife.org/core_
ACNMb. (n.d.) About the Midwifery Profession. Retrieved January 12, 2014 from http://www.acnm.org/about_