Updated August 2013
A midwife is someone who is trained to care for women with low-risk pregnancies and those who are expecting normal deliveries. Midwives help more than 300,000 women give birth each year in the US; most births take place in hospitals, but some occur in birthing centers or at home. A midwife’s education stresses that pregnancy and birth are normal, healthy events, not potential medical emergencies.
A Midwife May:
- help facilitate a natural childbirth
- spend more time with you than a medical doctor during prenatal visits
- work in collaboration with a physician
- be part of a labor and delivery team associated with a local hospital
- provide vaginal exams or fetal heart-rate monitoring
- help minimize medical interventions, such as induced labor, C-sections, and episiotomies
- stay with you during your entire labor and delivery
- handle an emergency transfer to a hospital if there are problems during a home birth
- provide postpartum care, including breastfeeding support
- provide well-woman care outside the realm of pregnancy and childbirth, including family planning and annual gynecological exams
- set up payment plans or sliding fees, or accept insurance plans, including Medicaid
A Midwife Will Not:
- care for you if you have a preexisting medical condition, such as diabetes or epilepsy
- perform a C-section birth
- deliver a child with forceps or vacuum
- use medical interventions such as electronic fetal monitoring or epidurals without a doctor’s supervision
Midwives & Home Births
If you are planning to deliver your baby at home, here are some questions to ask your potential midwife…
- How do you handle problems during labor?
- When would we go to the hospital?
- What drugs and equipment do you use in the home?
- Do you have a formal agreement with an obstetrician/gynecologist to provide care if problems occur?
- Which hospital will I be transported to if a problem occurs during labor?
- Would you stay with me if we transfer?
- Are you trained in newborn resuscitation?
Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are licensed healthcare providers educated in nursing and midwifery. Certified midwives (CMs) are licensed healthcare providers educated in midwifery. Both have graduated from college, have passed a national exam, and have completed an accredited program of the American College of Nurse Midwives.
To find a midwife in New Jersey, visit midwife.org.