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More and more women in the United States are considering a certified nurse midwife for obstetric care. In fact, the number of babies delivered by midwives increased by 33 percent between 1996 and 2006. As this practice becomes more mainstream it is important for consumers to know how best to choose a practitioner that is right for them.
“Most families will find that both traditional obstetricians and midwives provide care that is personalized and based in clinical best-practices,” said Tina Hayes, a certified nurse midwife with Piedmont GYN/OB. “However, midwives are an appealing option for women who want a less routine approach to childbirth, including non-medicated labor.”
Several Carolinas HealthCare System practices -- such as Charlotte OB/GYN, Shelby Women’s Care and Concord Women’s Specialty Care -- offer midwife providers. Union OB/GYN also offers midwifery services through their laborist who delivers at Carolinas Medical Center-Union.
Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) provide a full range of primary healthcare services to women, including routine gynelogical checkups, family planning, preconception care, prenatal and postpartum care, and, of course, delivering babies.
CNMs are trained in both nursing and midwifery and are certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives. To be certified, a CNM must be formally educated in midwifery through an accredited program affiliated with an institution of higher learning, demonstrate clinical competence and pass a rigorous national certifying exam.
Typically, patients in good health can opt for a midwife. At your first visit, a midwife will take a comprehensive medical history, perform a physical exam and order lab work. Over the course of pregnancy, the CNM will conduct or coordinate prenatal testing, such as ultrasound and amniocentesis.
“If a patient has a medical condition that requires the care of an obstetrician or perinatologist (a high-risk specialist), we will help transition their care and possibly continue to be part of the care team,” said Hayes.
“My fellow midwives feel very fortunate to work for a system like Carolinas Healthcare System that puts patients first, always, and believes that patients should have choices when it comes to their providers. That culture allows for close partnerships between midwives, obstetricians and the hospital team. We work as one care team to do our best to honor the wishes of our families.”
Hayes offers advice on selecting a midwife. “Choose your midwife as carefully as you’d choose a doctor,” she recommends. “Ask about her experience, where she trained, who her collaborating physicians are. Talk about your thoughts for a birthplan and overall, determine if you have a connection with her.”
In addition to interviewing midwives, patients can tour hospitals to learn which facilities provide services, amenities and an environment that best matches their birthplan.
“Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville is an example of a hospital that puts equal emphasis on clinical excellence and patient satisfaction,” Hayes concludes. “Families check in to one room for the entire birthing experience. Every detail has been considered. From whirlpools to patios, this is as close to a home as you can get!”