A women’s health goals and priorities may evolve throughout her lifetime, and women should always feel empowered to make decisions that improve their wellness and quality of life.
Approach is at the heart of Regional One Health’s midwifery practice, where nurse midwives, like myself, see patients at two primary care locations and support them during births at the hospital’s labor and delivery center. My peers and I want each patient to feel at the center of her care. It’s her journey. We give our patients more control and autonomy so they can be active participants in their healthcare.
While midwifery is growing in popularity, but there are still misperceptions. The following should shed some light on what role a midwife can have in a woman’s life.
Myth: Nurse midwives only care for pregnant women
Actually, they are an excellent resource for women at all ages and stages of life.
Midwifery is closely associated with prenatal care and birth for good reason; It is a style of care that empowers expectant moms and treats pregnancy and labor as natural, healthy conditions. However, we also see patients for routine well-woman annual care, STI screening exams and treatment, birth control counseling, treatment of uterine and vaginal issues, etc.
Midwifery has a strong educational focus, which makes it great for young women and teens. By empowering women from a young age, we set up a better healthcare future for them. We embrace their curiosity and encourage them to actively engage in their health. Nurse midwives build relationships that give patients a lifetime of personalized care from puberty to menopause—and everything in between. It can be hard to develop a trusting relationship with a medical provider, but once established, we are able to provide better care for patients and can (and often do) care for them for decades.
Myth: Only see a midwife if you want a home birth without pain medication
Regional One Health’s nurse midwives specifically attend hospital-only births, which gives new moms the best of both worlds—a nurse midwife’s support plus access to state-of-the-art medical technology and expertise if complications arise. We also offer the full range of pain management options, including epidurals. While a lower percentage of midwifery patients use pain medication, around half of them use some form.
We don’t tell the patient when they need it. If they decide they want it, we will advocate to provide and coordinate analgesia and anesthesia. We also encourage physiological birth, where the woman finds the position that feels best for her. You can be lying in bed, you can stand, you can be on your hands and knees, you can be on a birthing ball. You can dance!
Myth: You’ll still need an OB for prescriptions and tests
Certified Nurse Midwives are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, meaning we are licensed to provide physical exams, medical tests, prescriptions, etc. in clinical and hospital settings. We are registered nurses with at least a master’s degree in midwifery. Basically, that means we are nurse practitioners with a specialty in midwifery.
We provide birth control, STD treatment, breast cancer screening, fetal monitoring, gestational diabetes screening, ultrasounds, etc. If necessary, we help patients navigate specialty care such as gynecologic surgery, cesarean sections and other obstetric surgeries, maternal fetal medicine, etc.
Because it’s a collaborative effort, we communicate openly and honestly with our patients and others so we can be their healthcare squad!
Amanda Williams is a Certified Nurse Midwife at Regional One Health. Appointments with Certified Nurse Midwives are available at Kirby Primary Care (901.515.5350) and Hollywood Primary Care (901.515.5500). Call for an appointment for more information.