Choosing a Different Care Experience

Everyone has different health care preferences. Only you can decide who is best for you. We encourage you to learn more about your options and use your new knowledge to make educated, informed decisions to meet your personal needs and goals. Think in advance about the type of experience you imagine for yourself. This will help you decide on the provider who is right for you.

Some questions you may want to ask yourself include:

  • Do I want a provider who has experience in a range of areas, from general health care to gynecologic health services?
  • Do I want a provider who can offer services in a hospital, clinic, private practice, and/or in my home?
  • Do I want a provider who can provide care for me in important life events such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause?
  • Do I want to create a long-term relationship with my provider?
  • If possible, do I want to avoid the use of medical procedures during childbirth, such as cesarean section or labor induction?

When choosing your women’s health care provider, it’s also important to do your homework. Explore your options, ask your friends about positive experiences they have had, and then follow your instincts.

What Women Are Saying About Their Health Care

In an August 2012 survey, the large majority of women (85.4%) said they are somewhat to very satisfied with their care, yet most say they are not getting many of the services they want. For example, although most women (65%) would like guidance and information on birth control or family planning options after a previous birth, 87% of women did not discuss this with their provider. This lack of conversation can have serious health implications for women. Although 40.3% do not want an episiotomy during childbirth, in 2004 nearly 1 in 4 women underwent this procedure.

Midwives And You

Midwives are devoted to addressing the health needs of women. Midwives provide a whole-woman approach to care and many offer care from puberty through and beyond menopause. Midwives work with you to prepare for pregnancy, provide care through labor and birth, support you as you move into parenthood, and some even provide care for your newborn baby during the first 28 days of life. Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs) are also educated to manage your gynecology needs and provide you with general health care services throughout your life.

Partnership and Caring Throughout Your Life

Puberty, pregnancy, birth, and menopause are normal events in a woman’s life. For most women, they are not diseases or emergencies. Your health is not just an isolated, one-time event. Midwives view your health as an important part of your life that is linked to other parts of your life. Whether you are pregnant or seeking family planning options, midwives offer support, education, and treatment if needed to help you as you go through life’s changes.

A Different Health Care Experience

When you decide to visit a midwife, you will receive a special level of care that is not always present in most health care settings. Midwives often spend extra time with you during your appointment, listening to your concerns, addressing (or treating) problems. They may provide education, suggest resources, or refer you to additional health care providers if needed. Your midwife strives to be your partner in care, not just your provider of care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is midwifery care safe?

Midwifery is grounded in evidence-based practice and professional standards, along with a deep understanding of the normal, natural events in a women’s lifespan. Midwives approach women’s health care based on researched evidence and clinical expertise, while also considering a woman’s own values. The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) has joined with other national health care organizations to develop and endorse principles for client safety in childbirth. These principles promote care based on scientific knowledge, respectful coordination of care between different members of the health care team, active involvement of clients and their families in care practices, and a commitment to improving the quality of care. Together, these principles help promote the highest standards for quality and safety in maternity care in the United States.

Will my midwife provide the pain relief options and medical procedures I want to have during labor?

Your midwife will partner with you on making decisions around pain relief techniques, such as use of epidural during labor, and make sure that you receive the type of pain relief you need and want. Whether you wish to use methods such as relaxation techniques or movement during labor or try IV, epidural, or other medications, your midwife will work with you to help meet your desired approach to birth. At the same time, your midwife will provide you with information and resources about the different options and choices available if any changes to your birth plan become necessary or if you change your mind.

Most midwives favor an approach to pregnancy, labor, and birth that is based on normal, bodily processes rather than on the use of medical procedures: an approach that is strongly supported by current research. The midwifery model of care does not support routinely using medical procedures if there is no clear reason for them or if their use is not supported by research. For example, scheduling a labor induction or a cesarean birth without a clear reason is not supported by research and can often lead to unwanted problems. However, when a medical procedure is necessary, your midwife will work with you to ensure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision about your care and to be sure you are aware of any options or alternatives that may also be available.

What role will my partner play during my midwife-attended birth?

Giving birth is a family event and your midwife will work with you to create a birth plan that meets your individual desires and needs as a family. You and your partner/family will decide on the level of involvement that’s best for you. Your midwife will encourage you to have the people who are important to you with you and around you during labor and birth. Your midwife may ask your partner/family to comfort you, provide emotional support, give you a massage, provide drinks and food, adjust the lighting, or support you as your move around the birth room.

Will my insurance cover the care of a midwife?

Thirty-three states require private insurance companies to pay for services provided by certified nurse-midwives (CNMs), and Medicaid coverage for CNMs is required in all states. Even in states that do not require private insurance coverage, many insurance plans still cover CNM services. Before choosing any new care provider, check to be sure that your insurance will cover the service and make sure the provider accepts your specific insurance plan.

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