Midwives: More Than Just Birthing Babies
Midwives are a growing consideration for many women preparing for pregnancy and birth. But, it may come as a bit of a surprise to learn that a Certified Nurse-Midwife can also serve as a good health care resource throughout a woman’s lifetime. The CNM is qualified to provide the first gynecologic office visit to a young woman as well as make health care recommendations to a woman in her post-menopausal years – along with providing services for women in between.
What makes a midwife a good choice for women young and not so young? A midwife is qualified to do many things, including:
- Perform pap smears and annual gynecological exams
- Diagnose and treat routine female infections
- Discuss and prescribe birth control options such as oral contraception and intrauterine devices
- Diagnose and treat sexually transmitted diseases
- Discuss hormone replacement and its alternatives
If a woman’s needs fall outside of a midwife’s scope of care, she will consult with gynecologists, breast surgeons, radiologists, dermatologists, dieticians and other specialty providers. A midwife also helps women establish and maintain wellness through health promotion and preventive care. Beyond having the education and expertise to provide a comprehensive approach to well-woman care, for some women the decision to see a midwife long-term comes down to style of care.
“Listening is a hallmark of midwifery care so midwives often allow more time at visits than traditional OB/GYNs in an effort to ensure they have heard their client’s concerns and answered all of her questions,” according to Certified Nurse-Midwife Adrienne Jones, MSN, RN, of the Midwifery & Family Wellness program at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. “They enjoy helping women pursue wellness through the use of evidence-based education and shared decision making. Most importantly, midwives work to cultivate life-long partnerships that will inspire self-determination and empowerment.”
Family Planning and the Midwife
From dietary and exercise education to counseling about the effectiveness, risks and benefits of birth control, midwives can assist with family planning from beginning to end.
“We’re here to help you evaluate whether or not you and your partner want children and, if so, when you want to have children,” Jones said. “Working together we will review your health, personal needs and desires for pregnancy (or not), to decide the best method of family planning for you. If your plans change, we’ll help you re-evaluate your options so that you remain confident in your choices.”
A Healthy Alternative for Care
Although many midwives also provide alternatives to routine obstetrical and gynecological care, such as herbal medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture and physical therapy, the notion that they can only prescribe “hippy oils” and the like still exists.
Jones is quick to point out that “many Certified Nurse-Midwives utilize complementary and alternative therapies, however, CNMs also have prescriptive authority. This means that they have the ability to prescribe a variety of medications when needed.”
This unique combination of skill and knowledge means that your midwife can educate you on multiple treatment options and help you choose the health course that is best for you in pregnancy, the birthing process and life.
Texas Health Dallas’ Midwifery & Family Wellness program provides prenatal and family care at any stage of a woman’s life, beginning at adolescence. To learn more about the program and Women’s Services available through Texas Health Resources, visit TexasHealth.org/Dallas-Midwife.