Whether you’re sure you want an epidural and a cesarean at first contraction, or you’re convinced that natural, intervention-free delivery is best for you, being educated on all the childbirth options allows you to make informed decisions and experience birth as a positive, empowering achievement – a miracle of life and love.
Though obstetrician/gynecologists and Family Practice doctors are the most common childbirth caregivers in mainstream medicine, midwives, a third attendant alternative, are growing in popularity and re-gaining respect after a century of misdirected skepticism. Midwives generally can offer better birth outcomes and higher rates of satisfaction than either type of physician and are trained specifically to provide woman-centered care; to think of childbirth as a beautiful, natural opportunity, not just a time to endure a painful situation.
There are two main types of midwife currently practicing in the United States. The first is a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM), a practitioner that may best help you to walk the line between alternative care and medical model. CNMs are trained first as nurses, with conventional education in general health care practices. After this base, they go on to specialize in midwifery, through a program recognized by the American College of Nurse Midwives. Once certified, CNMs can choose to work at a hospital in cooperation with a team of doctors, at a freestanding birthing center, or in an independent homebirth practice. Because their training provides them with the most versatility - a deeper knowledge of medicine as well as the belief that birth is natural - CNMs are truly able to provide you with whatever support is deemed necessary, no matter where you prefer to give birth.
The second type of midwife is a Certified Professional or Direct-entry Midwife. Instead of attending nursing school, CPMs forego general medical instruction for in-depth specialization in childbirth. They are trained principally through apprenticeship, studying under a certified CNM or CPM before taking a test to become certified themselves. CPMs are licensed only to perform homebirths, so their training and methods are focused around what a woman can do on her own during childbirth. Rather than automatically inducing a slowly progressing birth or assuming that a woman in pain should be sedated, as might be done in a hospital, a CPM will try alternative methods. She will allow the mother to behave in whatever way will facilitate the birth; walking, eating, showering, squatting, sometimes even having sex! With faith in the body’s intuition, a CPM is the most flexible caregiver for women who want the unadulterated, unabridged childbirth experience, while still under the supervision of a trained professional.
Stay tuned for a last article on childbirth options, and remember to do your own research too!!