Overseeing your care, preparing you for the birth experience
When your pregnancy journey begins you may choose to have a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) or an OB/GYN for your pregnancy, birth and postpartum care. At Bryn Mawr Hospital we are proud to have a midwife on staff for women who prefer this option. Our midwife has many years of experience as a labor and delivery nurse at Bryn Mawr Hospital, and the midwifery approach and practice is respected and supported by our physicians, nurses and management.
What a midwife does
Midwives have been an important part of the birthing process for women around the globe for thousands of years. The term “midwife” means “with woman”—a qualified person caring for the pregnant, laboring and birthing woman and her baby.
In the United States, a midwife is a licensed medical professional who has been accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). The vast majority of CNMs have graduate degrees. All have advanced education and training in maternal care and childbirth.
Midwives are considered primary care providers. Your midwife will work with you from your very first appointment to educate and prepare you for the birth experience, and to oversee your (and your baby’s) health throughout the process.
Your midwife will:
- Recommend and run appropriate prenatal tests
- Provide guidance around your health and well-being
- Offer nutritional advice and counseling
- Prescribe medications and supplements
- Monitor you throughout pregnancy, labor and postpartum
- Help build your confidence in your body’s birthing ability
- Consult with an OB/GYN as needed*
* Midwives commonly consult with an OB/GYN if there is a medical condition or emergency that is beyond the scope of the midwifery practice or experience.
The midwife will also encourage you to move around and try different positions for labor in order for you to feel as comfortable as possible during this powerful experience. Your midwife will continue to check on the baby with fetal monitoring throughout labor. As long as your baby is doing well, you can move freely and even deliver your baby in any position that works for you, including side laying, hands and knees, and squatting.
Understanding the difference between midwives and doulas
While your midwife provides clinical oversight of your pregnancy and birth, a doula can provide emotional and physical support. The word “doula” comes from the Greek, meaning “female helper.” Think of your doula as your birth companion, someone who has special training and experience with childbirth and can provide you with information and support at every stage, especially labor and delivery.
Doulas help improve birth outcomes by:
- Suggesting positions to try based on how you’re laboring
- Giving you ice chips or a sip of water when you need it
- Talking you through your contractions
- Encouraging you when it gets tough
- Massaging or applying pressure where needed
A doula can also provide much needed support for your partner and may also assist you postpartum with things like breastfeeding and self-care.
How a midwife and doula work together for optimal birth outcomes
Midwives and doulas complement one another by supporting your full range of needs and experience from pregnancy through postpartum. While your midwife helps ensure you and your baby remain safe and healthy, your doula helps ensure that you are supported emotionally and physically. If you are interested in learning more about doula services, please consult with your midwife.