While most women picture nurse midwives as helping deliver babies, there’s so much more to their role than assisting during labor. What do certified nurse midwives do? The answers may surprise you as we examine the common misconceptions about these important members of your health care team.
Misconception #1: What do certified nurse midwives do? They only assist pregnant women.
Nurse midwives can provide care for women throughout their lives, starting at the first period, addressing the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, and pre-conception preparation. They can help when women who are having problems with irregular periods and menopause symptoms.
Certified nurse midwives also offer extensive educational information related to health, including nutrition and exercise.
Misconception #2: Nurse midwives don’t need extensive education.
Actually, certified nurse midwives have comprehensive training and have to pass certification requirements to be able to practice in North Carolina. All midwifery programs involve graduate-level courses and extensive education.
Some programs require that you be an RN or have a bachelor’s degree in nursing before starting the program, while others require that you take an accelerated nursing course to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing before commencing with the midwifery part of the degree.
Midwifery programs are generally three to four years long, and all nurse midwives must pass a comprehensive national certification exam. Like all other medical practitioners, they also need to do continuing education annually in order to maintain their certification status.
Misconception #3: Certified nurse midwives aren’t able to order tests or give medicine.
Actually, certified nurse midwives order tests and write prescriptions like a nurse practitioner. During labor and delivery, they can also start pain medication and administer other types of tests or medicines as necessary.
Misconception #4: Certified nurse midwives can’t perform regular tests like Pap smears.
While certified nurse midwives are well-known for attending births, 53.3% of certified nurse midwives identify reproductive care and 33.1% identify primary care as main nursing responsibilities in their full-time positions, according to the American College of Nurse Midwives.
Some examples of certified nurse midwife duties include:
- Annual exams, including Pap smears
- Nutrition assistance and counseling
- Parenting/ childbirth education
- Administering prescriptions
- Assisting with reproductive health visits
Misconception #5: If you have a certified nurse midwife, you can’t use an OBGYN.
This is not true. In fact, our certified nurse midwives work closely with our OBGYNs and family nurse practitioners. We all work collaboratively to provide the best care. We believe our nurse midwives are important colleagues, and we’re excited to have them on board.
Misconception #6: Nurse midwives don’t need to be certified—they only have to have nursing experience.
Nurse midwives must study for and pass difficult, comprehensive examinations in order to receive and maintain their certification. In order to qualify for certification, they have to have extensive education in addition to clinical experience.
Most certified nurse midwives have a master’s degree in nursing.
Misconception #7: Insurance will not pay for anything related to midwifery services.
Are certified nurse midwives covered by insurance? We’re happy to say that the answer is yes. While we always encourage you to check your individual policy for detailed information, in general, policies will cover midwifery services if they are given in a hospital or in a medical office/clinic.
Misconception #8: Certified nurse midwives only attend natural childbirths.
Actually, a certified nurse midwife can attend and assist with any childbirth, whether it is natural or one that uses medication. They can also provide assistance to mothers in the form of different tools and techniques—such as a birthing stools, squat bars, use of variety of birthing balls, and other supportive positions—that can help during labor.
If you need a cesarean delivery, many times they can be present in the operating room to assist with the surgery and continue to support you.
Misconception #9: A doula is the same thing as a certified nurse midwife.
No. This is another common misconception when about the role of certified nurse midwives.
Doulas have volunteer training, but they are not medical professionals. The role of doulas is primarily to provide physical and emotional support during the labor and delivery process, such as massage, partner support, and 1/1 time, but they do not monitor the health of the patient or baby.
Doulas are also not able to administer pain medicine or discuss medical decisions.
Misconception #10: Certified nurse midwives can’t help with high-risk pregnancies.
Our OBGYNs work closely with women who have high-risk pregnancies, and midwives are a part of our health care team. In collaboration with the doctor, midwives can also provide important aspects of your care.
We Want You to Meet Our Certified Nurse Midwives
Chapel Hill OBGYN is the only private practice in Chapel Hill that offers 24/7 doctor and midwife team coverage. Our certified nurse midwives offer safe, personalized care and support for you no matter what your stage in life, whether you’re expecting your first child, having your first annual exam, or starting breastfeeding.
Contact us to schedule an appointment today and see the benefits of working with a health care team that includes certified nurse midwives.
For more than 40 years, Chapel Hill OBGYN has served women in the Triangle area, sharing the joy of little miracles and supporting them during challenges. Our board-certified physicians and certified nurse midwives bring together the personal experience and convenience of a private practice with the state-of-the-art resources found at larger organizations. To schedule an appointment, please contact us for more information.