5 things that may surprise you about Certified Nurse-Midwives

vvwh blog - midwife photoI’ve been a midwife for 10 years, and I love my job everyday – even when it’s exhausting and difficult. It’s an amazing experience to work together with women and their families through the transformative experience of welcoming a new family member and stepping into motherhood.

Midwives have been providing health care to women for centuries, but a lot has changed since the early days of midwifery. Today, certified nurse midwives are an important part of the healthcare delivery system, with rigorous certification standards. In fact, in 2012, midwives delivered 11.8% of all vaginal births in the U.S., and that number is on the rise!

Still, many misperceptions about midwifery exist. In honor of National Midwifery Week, which runs from Oct. 5 to 11, here are five things you may not know about certified nurse-midwives. 

  1. We receive extensive training — Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are advanced practice nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in midwifery. We independently provide care for women and consult with physicians if there are complications that require care by our maternal fetal medicine colleagues.
  2. We specialize in low-intervention births — Our expertise is supporting women during low-intervention births, which have been shown to be the best for both mom and baby. We spend a lot of time during pregnancy talking to moms about the kind of birthing experience they want to have. Additionally, we offer techniques and tools to help minimize the need for medications or invasive procedures during labor.
  3. We deliver babies in the hospital — More than 94% of births attended by midwives are in hospitals, and the Nurse Midwifery Service at U-M only helps with the birth of babies in the hospital. CNMs also work with the U-M nursing staff to educate them on providing support during labor so that women receive the care and achieve the birth they want.
  4. But we also do more than deliver babies — While most midwives do deliver babies and love this aspect of our work, CNMs also provide gynecological care for women throughout their life – from the first pelvic exam through menopause and beyond. Our focus is on education and normalizing the reproductive process. We provide the full spectrum of screenings along with recommendations for living a healthy life.
  5. All mothers who deliver at U-M will get to meet a midwife! CNMs provide initial care in Triage for all pregnant women who enter the U-M Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital birth center. We evaluate the progress of the labor and the health of both mom and baby. So, even if you’re not a patient of our midwife service, we look forward to being a part of your care team as you welcome your baby into the world!

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Joanne Bailey, Certified Nurse MidwifeJoanne Motino Bailey, CNM, is the director of the U-M Nurse Midwifery Service. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Nurse-Midwifery Program. Joanne also teaches women’s health in the Women’s Studies Department at U-M. Her goal is to continue to hold space for normal birth in a hospital setting. Her interests include nurse-midwifery care for underserved populations, particularly women from Mexico and Central America. Her clinics are at Ann Arbor Planned Parenthood and the Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital Clinic.

university of michigan women's hospitalUniversity of Michigan Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital opened in December 2011, offering women a state-of-the-art place to welcome their babies to the world in the most caring and comfortable way possible.  From private rooms to birthing tubs, each feature was designed around mom and baby’s every need.  Learn more at www.UofMhealth.org/birthcenter.