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Midwives have assisted women to deliver their babies since the beginning of time. They attend most of the births in the world today. Midwives focus on wellness and consumer choice. They encourage women to make informed decisions about their own healthcare. Midwives prefer to promote natural therapies such as nutrition, exercise, herbs and Complementary Therapies that often solve common complaints of pregnancy. Childbirth education and support during labor result in fewer expensive interventions during childbirth. Women attended by midwives have fewer cesarean sections, epidurals and episiotomies without sacrificing the safety of mother or baby.
Certified Nurse Midwives
Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are educated in the arts of two disciplines: nursing and midwifery. CNMs are educated in university programs and must pass a national certifying exam given by the American College of Nurse Midwives. CNMs practice in birthing centers, hospitals and in some cases the home. All CNMs have collaborative relationships with physicians.
Nurse Midwives are experts in well-women care, taking care of women from the onset of menstruation through menopause. In addition to delivering babies, CNMs perform many other services, such as physical exams, pap smears, treatment of minor infection and family planning advice. Along with natural and Complementary Therapies, CNMs can prescribe medications, mammograms and ultrasounds. They work with physicians when medical attention is warranted. There is a 75-year history of safe, satisfying and personalized care by CNMs in this country. In addition, most insurance policies and Medicaid cover Nurse Midwifery services.
Midwife Certification, Licensure and Registration in the US and Canada
Each state and province has its own laws in regards to the regulating, licensing and credentialling of midwives. According to Susan Moray, Press Officer for Midwives' Alliance of North America (MANA), "the clearest picture of certification, licensure and registration is on [a state-by-state chart, we compiled] on the MANA website. There are some states that are a-legal and some that are illegal, however the move legislatively is to accept the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) credential. Midwives are educated in a variety of ways, including apprenticeships and formal education programs. After fulfilling clinical and academic requirements and passing a written and skills examination, they are issued the national Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) credential, and in those states where it is available, may receive either a license (LM), or Certification (CM)."
All midwives offer prenatal care to nourish and celebrate childbearing. They spend considerable time educating and counseling mothers and families during pregnancy, preparing for birth, breastfeeding and newborn care.
Prenatal education classes usually include:
Homebirth is a Licensed Midwife's area of specialty of supporting the natural process of childbirth. She is trained to recognize abnormal conditions and provide stabilizing care until additional help is available or hospital transfer can occur. Both CNMs and LMs are able to help most women avoid the use of routine obstetric interventions such as induction of labor, IV's, anesthetics and episiotomies. Regardless of the place of births, all midwives foster birth as a joyous celebration for the whole family. LMs and CNMs with home birth practices usually work with a trained assistant or doula to be sure mother, baby and the family receive extra special attention.
During the postpartum period, the Midwife supports the family process of bonding, breastfeeding and transition of the mother from pregnancy and birth to motherhood. Postpartum home visits provided by the Midwife allow the mother to rest and enable her to be even healthier after giving birth. Care by Midwives is individualized to address each woman and each family's physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
There are similar valuable practices in many cultures for women's rapid recovery from childbirth in a way which restores health, strength, balance and the best ability to mother from a spontaneous lovingness of life. Choices in diet, lifestyle and care at this time in a women's life can be more powerful than almost any other time of her life.
Ayurveda (see chapter) explains that postpartum women are in a very unique and sacred biological window for six weeks. All her tissues and systems are programmed for total reset and her psychophysiology at this time is as delicate as her baby's.
Her heart is wide open, and the unique opportunity for women at this time is a very rapid evolution of consciousness through strengthening the integrity of the body-temple. If a woman ignores this invisible work, she accumulates consider-able stress and can age very rapidly. With good recovery strategies, stresses from previous pregnancies can actually be healed.
Some Midwives are giving mothers strong guidance for taking it easy the first two weeks, and a few are offering Ayurvedic care to area mothers in one week packages for up to six weeks.
Sources: Susan J McConaughy, CNM, Highlands Ranch CO; Dee Anne Domnick, LM, New Orleans LA; Kathleen Martin, CNM, New Orleans LA; Susan Moray, MANA, ; Jennifer Barr, Boulder CO; and Terra Richardson, RM, Boulder CO.
See CompWellness Network Practitioners/Businesses with Midwifery as their primary modality.
Search the Members List for those practicing Midwifery.
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