Consider a Nurse-Midwife
by Cathy Parisi, CNM
"Come on Emily, just one more push, you can do it!" It had been a long trying labor. Fourteen hours at home and then another six at the hospital. It was all worth it though as Emily looked into the mirror and realized that her baby was only moments away from emerging. She gathered her strength and, listening to the nurse-midwife’s instructions, pushed slowly and steadily. "Slower, Emily, just pant now," she heard, "Look down, look down!" She gave one more push and opened her eyes in time to see her partner John and the nurse-midwife Susan lift her newborn up to her abdomen. She felt incredible relief and pride; she had done it! John had tears in his eyes as he exclaimed, "It’s a girl, Emily, a girl, we did it!"
When they found out eight months earlier they were expecting, Emily and John knew that they didn’t want to be given what they called "conveyor-belt" care. They wanted and expected to be treated as individuals with specific preferences and needs. They wanted a caregiver who would take the time to answer questions and would give thoughtful, informative answers. Furthermore they wanted someone who would encourage John and Emily’s involvement in their care and delivery. Having done a lot of reading and asking questions of their friends who had already had children, they chose Susan, a certified nurse-midwife with a small group practice in a nearby town. The midwives provided them with expert prenatal care, from the first physical and bloodwork to the referral for the ultrasound that the couple desired. During labor, not only did Susan help John catch his daughter, she stayed with the couple from the moment they were admitted, helping coach, offering suggestions, providing a caring massage. She was with them in every sense of the word. It was exactly the kind of experience that they had hoped for.
Childbearing is a normal, healthy part of life and need not be treated as an illness for the majority of women. Professional guidance, support, and care, however, are necessary to ensure a good outcome. Certified nurse-midwives (registered nurses with additional post-graduate training in midwifery) are professionals to consider when deciding whom to choose for health care. Nurse-midwives focus on individualized, personal care that takes into account social, emotional, and spiritual differences between different women and their families. Visits are typically longer than those with a physician, allowing plenty of time for questions and answers.
Delivery sites vary from state to state for the nurse-midwife. In Connecticut the majority of nurse-midwives practice delivery in a hospital setting. Home birth may also be an option for some women and their families. A third option recently became a reality when a freestanding birth center opened in Danbury. Regardless of the setting, all nurse-midwives have twenty-four hour per day back-up from a physician or group of physicians. This physician is someone to call if the midwife needs a consultation or referral about a particular client.
Contrary to the beliefs of some, nurse-midwives offer their clients all the modern, up-to-date testing available to pregnant women. From bloodwork, to ultrasound to genetic counseling, nurse-midwives are committed to helping every family have the best possible outcome. In addition to prenatal testing, good outcomes are augmented by nutritional counseling, encouragement to attend prenatal classes, breastfeeding support, and labor and delivery support.
The number of babies born with nurse-midwives in attendance has gone up each year. As more satisfied parents realize the benefits of midwifery, the number of women and babies receiving care will only increase.
For more information and to find a nurse-midwife near you, phone 1-888-MIDWIFE, the nurse-midwife locator number sponsored by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
Editorial provided by Cathy Parisi, Certified Nurse-Midwife, who works with families at the Connecticut Childbirth and Women’s Center, the only freestanding birth center in Connecticut.