Midwives: More Than Just Babies
By: Paula Greer, RNC, CNM, MS
When someone hears the word ‘midwife,’ they usually envision a person helping a pregnant woman through labor and delivering a baby. And while the primary role of a midwife is to help a woman through the birthing process, many receive in-depth training in primary care, in addition to gynecology and obstetrics. Like physicians, midwives can be health care providers throughout a woman’s entire lifespan – even if she plans to have children or not.
Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are nurses who have completed a graduate-level nurse-midwife program and passed a certification exam from the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB).
Meanwhile, Certified Midwives (CMs) are non-nurses who have complete a graduate-level midwifery degree program and earned the same AMCB certification.
Some midwives function as primary healthcare providers, often working with women who are considered relatively healthy and at low risk. They provide a full range of women’s health services including prenatal care, annual physicals, lab testing, gynecological exams, STD testing/education and management of chronic diseases. They can follow women through conception, pregnancy, delivery and post-partum care. Midwives also offer care to women during peri and post-menopause years.
Oftentimes patients are surprised to learn that some midwives are specially trained to collaboratively manage high risk patients with OB/GYN physicians, as well as assist with Cesarean sections, perform circumcisions, endometrial biopsies and colposcopies.
The midwives at UM BWMC are proudly celebrating their seventh anniversary of providing this model of care to our community. They helped to start the Centering Pregnancy Program, which offers group prenatal care and support and also helped UM BWMC become the first hospital in Maryland to offer Nitrous Oxide for pain relief in labor to patients.
Every stage of a woman’s life, from the teens to the childbearing years, through menopause and beyond, has its own health concerns and challenges. Midwives are committed to partnering with our patients throughout every phase. They want to get to know each woman, and listen to her questions and concerns with compassion and sensitivity, while also respecting personal preferences and values.
-Paula Greer, RNC, CNM, MS, is Director of Midwifery Services at UM-CMG Women’s Health and Director of the UM-CMG Women’s Health Centering Pregnancy Program, both affiliated with University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center. She can be reached at 410-553-8260.