Midwives provide comprehensive care and education for women and their newborns during the childbearing year. This model of care encompasses women’s physical and emotional needs and fosters self-determination throughout the childbearing cycle. Midwives specialize in normal birth and generally refer high-risk women to obstetricians or other medical specialists.
Prior to pregnancy, midwives may offer family planning, well-woman gynecology services, and/or education and assistance with fertility issues.
During pregnancy, she provides comprehensive prenatal care that includes nutritional counseling and discussion of lifestyle issues, with plenty of time to answer any questions and discuss any concerns the family may have. The time spent prenatally establishes a trusting and intimate relationship with the woman and her family. Midwives view their relationship with each client as a partnership. The best way to have a healthy baby is to be a healthy mother. Midwife and mother work together to achieve this– it is a shared responsibility.
A midwife also attends the woman in labor, birth, and the immediate postpartum period, and provides care to the mother and her newborn up to 6 weeks postpartum. They must be able to recognize the warning signs of abnormal conditions requiring referral to a doctor and to carry out emergency measures when no additional help is available. They may attend births in homes, birth centers, or in the case of Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM’s), in hospitals as well.
Midwives consult with or refer to other health care providers when appropriate. They are responsible for keeping accurate records, informing clients of current medical practice in obstetrical care and state laws relating to childbirth, and filing birth certificates.