Midwife Misconceptions

It’s Not Just a British Thing

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably heard the term “midwife” but aren’t sure what it is. Or you assume it’s a European thing, like au pairs or quid.

The truth is that midwives are more popular than ever.

“There are a lot more hospitals offering midwifery care today than 10 years ago,” according to Natasha McCoy, a certified nurse midwife at Adena. “I started as the second midwife at Adena in 2016, and now we are hiring our seventh one. There’s been a culture change with patients wanting less medical intervention and a more hands-on labor support experience.”

The word midwife literally translates to “with woman.” Midwives are trained to care for women through her reproductive life and beyond, not just delivery.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about the role of midwives in health care, so it’s time to debunk the most common myths about midwifery.

MYTH: Midwives are for home births.

The majority of births supported by midwives in the United States are in hospitals. That’s why Adena Health System offers an in-house midwifery service. Midwives are trained to practice in different settings, including hospitals, medical offices, free-standing birth centers, clinics and private homes. Midwives are dedicated to one-on-one care in any setting to make sure you have access to the range of services you need during the birth of your baby.

MYTH: If something goes wrong, there won’t be a doctor around.

Midwives work closely with everyone on your health care team, including physicians. Midwife care also fits perfectly with services provided by obstetricians and gynecologists (OB-GYNs), who are experts in medical complications and surgery. Midwives ensure that specialists are available if high-risk conditions arise.

MYTH: Midwives won’t offer pain relief during labor.

Midwives are experts in labor pain. Your midwife will make sure you know about all pain relief options and help you develop a birth plan that works for you. If changes to your birth plan become necessary or if you change your mind, midwives are ready. Whether it’s relaxation techniques, IVs, epidurals or other medications, your midwife is here for you every step of the way to make sure you and your baby are safe and comfortable.

MYTH: Midwives only specialize in pregnancy and birth.

Midwives are experts in women’s health. Though they specialize in caring for women through pregnancy, birth and postpartum, they do so much more. Midwives provide health care to women through every stage and milestone, from the teenage years through menopause. This includes check-ups, screenings, vaccinations, gynecological care, sexual health and birth control.

Myth: Midwives can’t handle high-risk pregnancies

Midwives are trained for different levels of care depending on your needs. If you are considered a high-risk pregnancy, a midwife can help you find resources and support your goals for childbirth, as well as provide emotional support. They can also work alongside specialists who are experts in your high-risk condition to ensure a safe, healthy pregnancy and delivery. Likewise, midwives can also support vaginal birth after a previous cesarean. If you have a chronic health condition, a midwife may still be able to provide some or all of your direct care services. They can also play a supportive role and help you work with other health care providers based on your personal health challenges.

MYTH: Midwives can’t prescribe medications and order tests

Midwives are licensed to prescribe a full range of medications and treatments. This includes all forms of pain medication and birth control. They can also order medical tests if needed.

MYTH: Midwives don’t have the same education or experience as nurses.

All certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) have a master’s degree or doctorate and have passed all required national certifications. There are many different types of midwives, each holding different certifications based on their education and/or experience.

MYTH: Midwives and doulas are the same thing.

Midwives are medical professionals. Doulas are nonmedical professionals who provide physical and emotional support to laboring women, but don’t play a clinical role in delivery. Doulas are a welcome part of a woman’s birth plan, but they provide a different range of services than midwives.

Midwives are here for you

Midwives play a vital role in women’s health. Natasha believes that starts with relationship building.

“Midwives are very family-centered,” she said. “We spend time educating our patients and offering them options for their pregnancy and labor. We also provide hands-on support, and we are typically with them through the entire birthing process. We have an ideal situation here at Adena with our midwifery practice. We work so closely with our OB-GYN partners and take a team approach with our patients. We make sure everyone on your care team is on the same page.”