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Midwives are Growing in Popularity. Here's What You Should Know.

Posted March 06, 2023 by Teresa Edwards, APRN-CNM

Doctors wearing masks while woman gives birth

While midwives are growing in popularity in this country, there are still many who aren’t aware of the care they can provide. Many people believe midwives help moms-to-be give birth in private settings, such as in their homes, without medication or medical intervention. While this may be true for some midwives, hospital-based midwives, like the ones at Summa, provide quality care in the hospital while maintaining a “home-like” feel.

In truth, certified nurse midwives (CNMs) work alongside obstetricians and other members of the care team in hospital and office settings to ensure females receive high-quality, individualized care. Midwives work to support and educate their patients through all phases of pregnancy and delivery, and support both medicated and non-medicated delivery methods. They are especially skilled at using alternative birthing positions, birthing balls, hydrotherapy and massage. 

There’s a reason midwifery is commonplace in many cultures. The practice comes with important benefits for both mom and baby. According to the Ohio Association of Advanced Practice Nurses, patients who use midwives have:

  • A higher level of care satisfaction
  • A decreased risk of a cesarean birth
  • Reduced rates of labor induction
  • Reduced use of regional anesthesia
  • A decreased risk of episiotomies or perineal lacerations during birth
  • A higher chance of breastfeeding

Midwives tend to focus on low-risk births for moms-to-be who want to try to avoid surgical intervention, epidurals, pain medications and drugs that induce labor.

Summa Health debunks 5 common myths about midwives to separate out facts from fiction so you can make the most informed decision about your care. If you’re looking for minimal intervention, high-quality and individualized care, a midwife might be right for you.

Fact: Midwives are licensed advanced practice providers.

There is a common misconception that midwives have no formal education. In fact, most midwives in this country are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who hold a graduate-level degree and have advanced training in women’s health and midwifery. They also have earned national certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board. 

There are midwives who are not nurses, but do hold a master’s degree in midwifery. These certified midwives (CMs) have to pass the same exam to become certified.

All certified midwives have to renew their licenses every five years to ensure their knowledge base is up to date.

Fact: Midwifery care at healthcare facilities are covered by the majority of health plans.

Most CNMs practice within a hospital system or private healthcare setting and accept insurance. The majority of health plans will pay for midwife deliveries at hospitals. It’s important to understand your benefits because insurance coverage differs from plan to plan. Patients should follow up with their personal insurance company for clarification on any coverage questions.

Fact: Midwives offer a range of obstetric and gynecological services

CNMs are experts in labor and delivery care, but they are also trained to provide obstetric and gynecological services, including:

  • Prenatal care
  • After birth care, lactation support and quality infant care
  • Disease prevention
  • Family planning and contraceptive counseling
  • Routine gynecological exams, such as Pap smears
  • Health maintenance counseling, such as preventative screenings and vaccinations
  • Menopausal management, such as hormone replacement therapy
  • Preconception care

CNMs can offer the most comprehensive array of healthcare services to females. Midwifery services do depend on certification and licensing credentials, and they can differ throughout the United States.

Fact: Midwives are licensed to prescribe medication.

CNMs are licensed to prescribe medications ranging from birth control to pain medication to hormone replacement therapy. During labor and delivery, they specialize in pain management techniques to reduce the need for drug interventions, but if patients need pain medication, they can prescribe it.

Fact: Midwives and doulas are not the same.

While doulas provide physical and emotional support during labor and delivery, such as helping manage contractions and suggesting new positions, they are not medical professionals. Midwives also offer this support, but have the medical training to monitor the health of mom and baby during labor and delivery, and can prescribe medication when necessary.

Summa Health offers the largest midwifery team in the region. Our midwives see patients in offices throughout Northeast Ohio, including on the Akron Campus, West Akron, Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, Green, Hudson, Springfield, Stow-Kent, Medina and Wadsworth.

To learn more about Summa Health’s midwifery and other maternity services, call 330.869.9777.


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