Disclosure: Our partners at Fairview Health Services are passionate about educating and supporting women throughout their pregnancies. Learn from Certified Nurse Midwife Karin Marshall, CNM, APRN, of Fairview – Paul Larson Clinic about midwifery and what services a midwife can provide during birth and pregnancy.
For many women – seeing the two lines or the words ‘pregnant’ on a pregnancy test bring on a ton of emotions – from joy and excitement, to a bit of fear. You’re faced with making lots of choices – including who to go to for care for pregnancy and birth. Women have lots of great options to meet their needs. I chose a midwife for my first pregnancy – and was so inspired by the amazing care I received, I became a certified nurse midwife myself. Now, 20+ years later, I find there is a lot of confusion around the role and capabilities of midwives. Here’s a few of the questions I get asked the most often.
- Can midwives attend births in hospitals? Absolutely – in fact, I’ve never attended an at-home birth. Each woman and every delivery is different, but I think choosing a midwife and delivering at a hospital gives women the best of both worlds – in that you can choose the method of labor and delivery that fits you best, yet have a the full-scope medical professionals and facilities right there if you or your baby needs advanced care.
- Can midwives prescribe medications? Yes, I can hear your collective sigh of relief. Rest assured, we can prescribe the same pain medications as physicians, including epidurals. We believe you should have access to medication if you want or need it. At all Fairview hospitals, we also offer moms nitrous oxide, often called “laughing gas,” to help lessen pain and anxiety. A lot of my patients are interested in this form of pain relief as it is easy to use, you can still walk around and it has no effect on the baby.
- What happens if my pregnancy or delivery becomes complicated? Midwives are experts at normal, low-risk labor and delivery, while physicians are experts at high-risk obstetrics and surgery. We would not hesitate to consult a physician if we thought your situation needed a higher level of medical care. Midwives are with you at the hospital throughout your delivery, even for example, a c-section becomes necessary.
- What level of education do midwives have? Midwives at Fairview Clinics are not only registered nurses; they also hold advanced degrees in midwifery. In addition, Fairview only hires midwives who have been certified through the American Midwifery Certification Board after passing a rigorous test. Certified nurse midwives are required to partake in continuing medical education to keep their certification current. Fairview’s rigorous requirements ensure that you and your baby will receive the best care available.
- Do midwives only care for pregnant women? I build such wonderful relationships with my patients, many fear we’re done working together as soon as the baby comes. But midwives are not just for prenatal care and births. We provide a wide range of care for women of all ages, including yearly gynecological exams, pre-conception counseling and family planning, birth control visits, peri-menopause counseling, breastfeeding counseling and more. We also can help young women transition from pediatric care to adult health care, answering their questions about menstruation, sexually transmitted diseases and birth control.
As certified nurse midwives, we are your partners in care, working with you to achieve the best possible experience during this important time in your life. If you are considering using a midwife for your next labor and delivery, please give us a call. We can answer your questions and work with you to design a care plan that fits your needs.
Fairview offers midwifery care at 3 locations in the Twin Cities. Visit fairview.org/midwives to meet the team, watch patient stories and learn more about the kind of care midwives deliver.