Six things you might not know about midwifery care

For women, a health care journey can be a winding road with a lot of natural and unexpected health changes. From well-person care and prevention to family planning, conception, pregnancy, delivery, post-partum and even breast health - there's one thing that can remain consistent: our client's active decision-making in their health care. And that is the very focus of certified nurse midwives.

Many people assume that midwives only deliver babies via home birth. This is far from the truth. In fact, nurse midwives are highly trained and credentialed to provide comprehensive care for life.

People have many misconceptions about midwifery care. Let's explore the facts.

1. Nurse midwives are different than doulas

A doula can help you through your pregnancy, labor and birth, but more as an emotional support coach. Doulas are not medical care providers.

A nurse midwife is a clinically trained nurse who receives further training and certification to provide medical care throughout life from well-checkups to pregnancy, delivery and postpartum.

2. Nurse midwives provide in-hospital labor and delivery care

Another common misconception is that nurse midwives deliver babies only through home birth. While there are midwives that do home births, all our UChicago Medicine AdventHealth nurse midwives are licensed as advanced practice nurses and certified nationally to practice. We do all our deliveries in the hospital setting and collaborate with our OB/GYN physicians on high-risk cases.

3. Nurse midwives support women to make their own pain management choices

Your midwife is your partner through the labor and delivery journey. We support you in whatever decision you make, with, of course, our utmost priority being the safety of you and your baby. That relationship is the same no matter if you choose to give birth with or without an epidural.

4. Nurse midwives provide the full spectrum of women's care

It's common for people to think that nurse midwives only deliver babies, but in reality, a big and important part of a nurse midwife's care is annual and ongoing well-person care. During those visits, you and your midwife can talk about anything that's important to your health at that age and stage of life and health.

5. Midwives provide whole-health care for the body, mind and spirit

UChicago Medicine AdventHealth nurse midwives are particularly focused on helping clients thrive with a holistic approach to complete health in body, mind and spirit. Midwives promote patient autonomy and their involvement in their own care decisions, help people understand how their body is working and how and why it's changing, and how they can work to have the best life and experiences possible. Because of this approach, nurse midwife visits can be a little longer compared to traditional OB/GYN appointments.

6. Nurse midwives have a positive working relationship with OB/GYN physicians

Our nurse midwives have a very collaborative and positive working team culture between other nurses and the OB/GYN physicians. We all work closely with nurses and patients to promote a vaginal delivery when safe and the best choice for the patient.

For women with high-risk pregnancies, our midwives collaborate with physicians. We are trained and equipped to do essentially the first line of care, even if high risk, and refer or collaborate when needed. In pregnancy, this could involves multiples or a chronic health condition. In non-pregnant people, it could be a condition like fibroids or menstrual problems.

Midwives are your partner on your healthcare journey, whether that's prevention, pregnancy care or overall wellness.

- Megan Belleavia is a certified nurse midwife with UChicago Medicine AdventHealth

Medical Group.