What is a Midwife?

midwife with stethoscope caring for newborn

You’ve heard about midwives, and you’ve maybe even seen Call the Midwife – but what do midwives in the 21st century really do? What education background do they have? How is a midwife different from an OB/GYN?

Today, we are answering all your questions.

So, what is a midwife?

Board Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are specifically trained to care for healthy women, with a special emphasis on low-risk pregnancy and birth. They are trained in collaborative care models that engage other healthcare providers. Baby+Co. calls this model Complete Care: in addition to providing medical care, midwives consider a woman’s emotional and lifestyle factors.

Many midwives are driven to the profession by a belief that women should have access to more compassionate care that provides them with broader choice when it comes to their healthcare, which includes pregnancy and birth. At Baby+Co., choice is a priority – whether a woman chooses to give birth in one of our centers or at our hospital partner, her care team will be with her at every step.  

From the start of conception planning, all the way to birth and beyond, a midwife provides clinical care throughout pregnancy — just like an obstetrician — but with a non-surgical approach that puts the woman at the center of her decision-making.

While most people assume that midwives only care for pregnant women, you do not have to be pregnant (or planning a pregnancy!) to see a midwife. Midwives provide primary care for women in all stages of life, from puberty to postmenopause. Often called “well woman care,” you can see a midwife for most any health issue you would go to a primary care provider for.


What kind of education does a midwife have?

While there are varying types of midwives, when you see a midwife who is a CNM, she is a Board Certified Nurse-Midwife. This means that she has a Masters degrees in Nursing or Nurse Midwifery with a specialty in women’s health, pregnancy and birth.

CNMs’ training includes a period of clinical training that is like a residency, which has to be completed before they complete their degree. CNMs also must be nationally board certified in order to practice. Midwives and Nurse Practitioners receive similar training and go through a very similar education and board certification process.   

All midwives at Baby+Co. are Board Certified Nurse-Midwives. Many on our care team hold their Doctorate in Nurse Midwifery, as well.


How are midwives different than OB/GYNs?

Midwives specialize in caring for women from puberty to postmenopause, specializing in low risk pregnancy and birth. OB/GYNs specialize in treating medical concerns in pregnancy. Unlike midwives, they also perform surgery and other medical procedures and interventions when problems arise. They have a deep understanding of pathology and are well equipped to address complications in higher risk pregnancy. A multiples pregnancy, for example, should be overseen by an OB/GYN.

However, in many ways, OB/GYNs are overqualified to care for women with low risk pregnancies, which is the vast majority of the population. The United States is unique in its dependence on OB/GYNs for the majority of births (early 20th century smear campaigns against midwives by the emergent medical community in the United States have been well documented).

In other wealthy industrialized nations, like the UK, midwives oversee the vast majority of low risk pregnancies and deliveries. Kate Middleton’s midwives, for example, oversaw all three of her deliveries.


How are midwives at Baby+Co. different?

At Baby+Co. we believe in taking an integrative approach to care, combining best-in-class medical services with holistic wellness practices.  Our Nurse-Midwives work with the our Complete Care team of health coaches, educators, and clinical staff, as well as our OB/GYN and hospital partners, to provide women with access to choice in their care, which includes:

With Baby+Co. Board Certified Nurse-Midwives, you get a provider who will always go a step further, making it her mission to personalize your care: educating you and supporting your emotional and physical needs throughout your care.


Click “Contact” in the upper right corner or fill out the form on the screen to learn more about Complete Care at Baby+Co.!

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