All about midwives

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Commentary by Stephanie Crowell and Bethany Monte, both of Ascension St. Vincent 

Stephanie Crowell, left, and Bethany Monte

In the United States, around 8 percent of all child births are attended by a midwife. Similar to OB/GYNs, midwives are trained in a wide range of primary health care services for women like gynecologic care, family planning, care during and after pregnancy and during childbirth.

What is a midwife? 

A midwife is a trained medical professional who works in partnership with women to provide care, support and advice during pregnancy, labor and birth. A midwife also provides gynecological and well women care throughout a woman’s life.

How is a midwife different from an OB/GYN?

A certified nurse-midwife is an advanced practice nurse trained in the care of low-risk women and pregnancies. A midwife cannot perform certain procedures and surgeries (such as a c-section) but works in collaboration with an OB/GYN if the need for the procedure arises. Midwives are advocates for natural childbirth but are still able to utilize medical interventions whenever necessary or desired.

If I have a midwife caring for me during my labor, can I still get an epidural?

Yes! Midwives work as advocates for the women they care for. They will support and respect a mother’s choices for pain relief during labor no matter what!

What options are available to me for pain management during labor?

There are lots of different ways midwives can help women cope during labor! Some examples are water immersion, relaxation, hypnosis, positioning, birthing balls, visualization, affirmations, heat/cold, massage, aromatherapy, acupressure, nitrous oxide, IV pain medications and epidurals.

Is a midwife different from a doula?

Yes, a doula is a trained professional who provides emotional and physical support during childbirth. Many doulas provide prenatal and postpartum services as well. Doulas are not medical professionals. They are trained to coach the mother to help her achieve a satisfying and healthy delivery. A midwife, however, is a trained medical professional who provides medical care to the patient – who will manage a patient’s labor and deliver the baby.

Stephanie Crowell has been a Certified Nurse Midwife for five years. She also is a Family Nurse Practitioner and has several years’ experience working in various ERs. Bethany Monte is a Certified Midwife in Carmel offering care along the lifespan of a woman. She offers care for teenage girls, preconceptual counseling, birth control counseling, prenatal care, delivery, postpartum care and GYN care. Both women work for Ascension St. Vincent.


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