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Midwife Seattle

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Midwifery as a Profession: What is a Midwife?

Midwives as a ProfessionA midwife is a professional who independently cares for women during pregnancy, birth and postpartum, as well as for their newborns.  The midwifery approach to pregnancy and birth is especially focused on supportive relationship and a preventative, holistic approach to health.  Pregnancy is not viewed as an illness or high-risk condition in itself, but rather an important and sacred rite of passage into motherhood.  The midwife keeps a watchful eye on the wellness of both mother and baby, and is able to apply the most current medical advances to her client’s situation as needed. Studies consistently show that women cared for by midwives tend to be happier with their birth experience, have lower rates of medical interventions such as induction of labor or cesarean, and have healthier babies than those low-risk women cared for by obstetricians.

A midwife:

“There is no one offering more individualized maternity care in Seattle. Wise, safe, caring and attentive, the midwives of Midwife Seattle provide a shining example of what it means to be 'midwife' – with women!”

— Emma Summer, (Baby Day Doula), certified doula, lactation and childbirth educator
  • Monitors the health of mom and baby during the entire pregnancy, birth and postpartum period.
  • Provides complete, independent care for the low-risk woman during the entire childbirth process.
  • Identifies and refers as needed those women who need obstetrical interventions beyond the midwife’s scope of practice.
  • Orders and interprets medical screening tests, including lab testing, genetic screening and ultrasound.
  • Offers nutritional counsel and preventative, holistic health advice both prenatally and postnatally.
  • Manages emergency situations at birth for both mom and baby (including management of hemorrhage, shoulder dystocia, and newborn resuscitation).
  • Performs a newborn exam and monitors newborn transitions.
  • Offers breastfeeding support.
  • Cares for mothers through the first six weeks after birth.

Midwives receive ongoing education in order to keep current on skills and recommended practices.  They also maintain supportive relationships with other midwives and are accountable to professional organizations.

There are various paths to becoming a midwife. In our practice, we primarily use Certified Nurse-Midwives.

Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)

In a Cochrane review of 11 studies including more than 12,000 women, midwife-led models of care were recommended over physician-led models. Evidence shows that women seeing midwives are less likely to have premature delivery and their babies are less likely to require hospitalization. Also, women seeing midwives are less likely to need an epidural during labor, have an increased chance of delivering their babies without forceps or vacuum, and have a greater sense of control during the birthing process.

Hatem M, Sandall J, Devane D, Soltani H, Gates S. Midwife-led versus other models of care for childbearing women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 4.

The Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) initially completes training as a Registered Nurse. She then obtains a master's or doctorate degree in midwifery. This degree includes training in obstetrics and also in women's healthcare (from puberty through menopause and beyond). In Washington State, the CNM is licensed both as an RN and as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP). She independently cares for low-risk women and newborns during the childbearing year, provides women's healthcare and treats many common medical conditions.

To learn more about midwifery in the United States, please see the following links:

Midwives of Washington States (MAWS) - www.washingtonmidwives.org
American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) - www.midwife.org

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