There is an increasing birthing trend towards the use of midwives. As with any popular movement, there are a lot of passionate feeling and plenty of misinformation. Here are a few of the myths you may have heard about midwives.
"Midwives Only Deliver in a Home Setting"
While you can have a midwife assist you during a home birth, the majority of midwife-assisted births actually occur in a hospital-like setting. Some midwives operate from birthing centers, where you will receive your pre-natal and labor and delivery care. Others are associated with a hospital and have a particular wing or floor of the hospital building dedicated to the midwife practice.
"Insurance Doesn't Cover Midwives"
While you will have to check with your individual insurance, many states actually require insurance companies to cover midwives and birthing centers as a part of their maternity plans.
"If I Use a Midwife, I Can't Use Medication"
The focus of a midwife practice is working with the mother to determine how she feels most comfortable giving birth. Medication-free pain management techniques, like massage, re-positioning, coaching, acupuncture, music, and heated tubs are often available, but medical interventions are still an option, especially when the midwife is partnered with a hospital. Epidurals must be administered by an anesthesiologist, but your midwife can request one for you and advocate for you as you progress through labor. Under certain circumstances, such as prolonged labor, your midwife will recommend medical intervention. At the end of the day, all choices about medical interventions are up to you.
"Midwives Don't Have Formal Training"
There are two main paths to become licensed as a midwife. A certified nurse midwife (CNM) first gains a nursing license, then obtains certification as a midwife through a graduate program. A certified midwife (CM) goes through a similar graduate program without the initial background in nursing. These graduate programs are usually between one and three years long and culminate with a certifying exam that is regulated by the state.
"Doulas and Midwives are the Same"
Doulas will generally meet with you two to six times during pregnancy, be present during labor, and visit several times after the birth. They are primarily available for emotional and physical support for the woman and family, whereas the midwife sees to the medical concerns, like helping coach the woman through contractions. She may also help consult with issues like breastfeeding and infant care after the birth.
"Midwives and Doctors Don't Get Along"
While they may differ in approach, many doctors and midwives form partnerships to provide the best possible care for their patients. Often, midwives have a particular doctor they will refer to if they are concerned about complications with the pregnancy or delivery.
It is important that each woman make the care choices that are right for her and her baby. Being informed is the first step to taking control of your health and pregnancy.