Q. What is a “midwife”?
A. Midwife translates to “with woman” and a midwife is a specialist caring for women throughout the lifespan. The health needs of women are unique and the significant transitions of womanhood -puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, birth and menopause are opportunities for specialized knowledge and care. The midwife provides individualized, attentive, comprehensive attention to the woman for whom she cares.
The International Confederation of Midwifery definition:
“A midwife is a person who has successfully completed a midwifery education programme that is duly recognized in the country where it is located and that is based on the ICM Essential Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice and the framework of the ICM Global Standards for Midwifery Education; who has acquired the requisite qualifications to be registered and/or legally licensed to practice midwifery and use the title ‘midwife’; and who demonstrates competency in the practice of midwifery.
Q. Why would I choose a midwife?
A. For many generations, and in many countries, a midwife was the primary choice for a woman. The comfort provided by an experienced and competent provider was the natural response to a perceived need. In the US, the medical model was adopted early in the 1900’s, and women were expected to choose a surgeon, an OB/Gyn to provide their care. At the present time, many women are seeking the personalized, knowledgeable care provided by midwives.
Q. What if there is an emergency?
A. Most of the events of a woman’s life occur normally, and can be monitored and guided without medical intervention. In those instances where an abnormal event intervenes, the midwife is educated and prepared to recognize the deviations from normal, and recommend appropriate treatment. Medical specialists are available to provide the intensive interventions if they are required.
Q. Does my health insurance cover a midwife’s costs?
A. Most private insurances will cover the costs. Midwives are providers under Medicaid and Medicare as well. You can get a list of “in network” providers from your insurance company. The midwife’s office staff will be able to discuss your insurance and charges, and give you the details.
Q. Don’t midwives only do home births?
A. Midwives attend birthing women in the hospital, in birthing centers, and at home. Only about 1% of US births are planned home births. Midwives attend 8% of the nation’s births, meaning most midwife attended births do not occur at home. The choice of birth location is a deeply personal one based on the woman’s personal history, preferences and site availability.