What Is a Midwife?
A midwife is a trained health professional who helps healthy women during labor, delivery, and after the birth of their babies. In South Carolina, CPM and Licensed Midwives may deliver babies at birthing centers or at home, and only CNM can deliver babies in a hospital in which they have a physician that will back them and allow them to deliver.
Women who choose midwives usually want more personalized care, a relationship with their care provider, so they can receive as little medical intervention as possible and who have a normal uncomplicated pregnancy.
Midwives can have different levels of training:
- Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are registered nurses who have graduated from an accredited nurse-midwifery education program and have passed a national exam. They can practice in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- Certified midwives (CMs) are non-nurse midwives who have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a health field, have completed an accredited midwifery education program, and have passed a national exam. Only a few states permit CMs to practice.
- Certified professional midwives (CPMs) are non-nurse midwives who have training and clinical experience in childbirth, including childbirth outside of the hospital, and have passed a national exam. Not all states permit CPMs to practice. Fortanually SC does recognize CPM’s.
- Licensed Midwives are non-nurse midwives licensed by DHEC in the State of SC, who have been through an MEKA accredited school, as well as hands on training (an apprenticeship), with a Licensed Midwife who allows them to handle the care for certain number of births, who then take a state exam to become licensed in SC.
- Lay midwives are unlicensed midwives with hands on training, and without the formal education from an accredited school.
What Care Does Your Midwife Provide?
Like an OB, your midwife can provide care before, during, or after your pregnancy. Your midwife will:
- Provide family planning and preconception care
- Do prenatal exams and order tests
- Watch your physical and psychological health
- Help you make your birth plans
- Advise you about diet, exercise, meds, and staying healthy
- Educate and counsel you about pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn care
- Give you emotional and practical support during labor
- Admit and discharge you from the birth center
- Deliver your babies
- Make referrals to doctors when needed
Your Midwife Should Have a Team
- Your Midwife should have a relationship with a doctor who provides consultation as needed.
- Your midwife may refer you to a specialist for care if a problem develops during your pregnancy.
- Your midwife also may team up with another midwife or doula to help with your labor and delivery.
- Make sure your midwife’s practice has transport agreements with the hospital and doctors should your care need to be transferred.
Why You Might Want to Choose a Midwife
You may want to consider working with a midwife if:
- You want your childbirth to be as natural as possible with little medical intervention
- You do not wish to have a routine episiotomy, but only as a last resort
- You do not wish to be flat on your back hooked up to fetal monitoring
- You want to go into labor naturally and not scared into an induction
- You want the emotional, practical, and social support that only a midwife can provide
- You do not want to be poked and prodded or made to feel inadequate
- You want your input and feelings to matter, and have the best birth experience possible