Special delivery

Midwives provide women options, grows in popularity.

By Carla Layne

Many people are intrigued with midwives. Midwives are also misunderstood. Yes, midwives help an expectant mother throughout her labor and delivery. Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) also provide healthcare and education to women of all ages.

CNMs are licensed healthcare providers who are educated in nursing and midwifery. CNMs have graduated from college, most in fact, have a master’s degree in nursing. They have passed a national examination and have acquired a state license to practice midwifery.

CNMs help more than 300,000 women give birth each year in the United States. Most of these births are in hospitals. (Midwifery is not legal in Kentucky hospitals but is legal in home births.) CNMs also provide healthcare to women from adolescence through the post-menopausal years, including prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum, annual exams, birth control planning, menopause and health counseling.

A Day in the Life
With the growing popularity of midwives, OB/GYN Associates of Southern Indiana, a group of providers who practice at Floyd Memorial Hospital in New Albany, Ind., saw the importance of expanding their practice and hired a certified nurse midwife. I joined the practice in January 2013. Now expectant moms have another option to make their birth experience exactly what they desire.

CNMs, such as myself, typically work in partnership with OB/GYNs and have a written collaboration agreement. OB/GYNs provide second opinions, offer surgical support and intervention when needed and are there to back up CNMs if emergencies occur.

We also offer support to physicians by seeing patients in the office if the OB/GYN is called out to do a delivery or an emergency, help in surgeries as a first assist and do rounds on patients. This frees up the OB/GYN to tend to more complicated issues. I work closely with healthcare providers such as nurses, social workers, nutritionists, doulas, childbirth educators, physical therapists and other specialists to help pregnant women get the care they need.

As a CNM, I am able to prescribe medication and order treatments for common illnesses that occur during pregnancy. I help expectant mothers with natural birth, or with traditional intervention using pain medications and epidurals.

In addition, I present classes at Floyd Memorial Hospital on new family fundamentals. This is where I explain the services I provide, introduce a doula to give expectant moms another option and offer basics for new

dads so that they can better prepare for pregnancy, labor, delivery and taking care of the new addition to the family. I also offer a free class on hormone replacement therapy.

One-on-One Time

Through my experiences, I’ve found that many women see the biggest benefit of having a midwife is the time we are able to dedicate to them during their labor and delivery. Every new expectant mom I see knows that I will be the one who delivers her baby and that I will be with her throughout the entire process to provide support, help her relax with the use of aromatherapy and hydrotherapy. The Floyd Memorial Birthing Center’s birthing suites include garden tubs so that hydrotherapy can be utilized throughout labor and birthing balls are available. While expectant moms can count on me, I ensure my patients are prepared to see one of the other providers in my office if I am attending to another woman in labor or delivery.

Many women also see their CNM for annual checkups, family planning and to get care for common ailments such as urinary tract infections. We can offer alternative ways to treat infections as well as with medications. Another service that I can provide is bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BIHT).

Bottom-line: CNMs believe women need time and special attention so that they can be healthy and able to make educated decisions about the care they receive during pregnancy and childbirth. We provide support to birthing families, giving them one-on-one attention. Midwives are experts in knowing the difference between normal changes that occur during pregnancy and symptoms that require extra attention.

Sometimes a little extra T.L.C. is just what the doctor—and midwife—order.

Carla Layne, ARNP, is a certified nurse midwife with OB/GYN Associates of Southern Indiana in New Albany, Ind.