In the U.S., physicians deliver 85 percent of babies in a traditional hospital setting. Across the pond in Europe, however, midwives attend to most births with favorable outcomes for both mom and baby. What’s holding Americans back from seeking alternative care? We think these common myths about midwives may have something to do with it. Let’s debunk them!
MYTH: Using a midwife is not safe
TRUTH: Midwifery practices come in many shapes and sizes: There are midwife groups that operate within a traditional hospital setting alongside doctors and residents. There are practices that work out of freestanding birth centers – and then there are others who attend home births. There is also one important distinction to keep in mind: A certified nurse midwife differs in training from certified professional midwives or direct-entry midwives. Whatever the case may be, a 2012 study published in Women’s Health Issues found no difference in infant outcomes between a doctor-attended birth and a midwife-attended one. What that study did find was less interventions, fewer instances of lacerations and higher rates for breastfeeding when women worked with midwives.
MYTH: Midwives don’t allow women to get epidurals
TRUTH: While midwifery by its nature is low intervention, the same pain management options exist for all women who deliver their babies in a hospital setting, regardless if they choose a doctor or midwife. For those who birth in a freestanding birthing center, or others who choose a home birth, it’s true that an epidural won’t be possible. An anesthesiologist needs to be on-hand to administer this pain managing drug.
MYTH: Midwives can’t help if something goes wrong
TRUTH: Midwives see healthy women with low risk pregnancies. However, all midwives are trained to recognize complications that arise in pregnancy or birth. CNMs and certified midwives partner with obstetricians who specialize in high-risk pregnancies and surgery. That way, if a complication arises that’s beyond the scope of the midwife’s expertise, there is a specialist on call to turn to. What’s more, if you choose to work with a CNM, you will most likely deliver in a hospital setting – with all the tools and resources near by if something goes wrong. Midwives can also provide life support to a newborn and administer pitocin to help manage postpartum bleeding.
MYTH: Midwives are not covered by insurance
TRUTH: Many midwife practices accept health insurance plans. As outlined by the Affordable Care Act, midwife care provided by a CNM is covered by Medicaid – and 33 states require insurance companies to list CNM care under their coverage. Even in areas that do not have state mandated coverage, many insurance plans will still green-light midwife care.
What do you think? Would you ever choose to work with a midwife group? Share your thoughts in the comments below.