Women's Health

Should You Choose a Midwife?

Today’s healthcare isn’t about providing a cookie-cutter approach. It’s about providing options to patients so they can find the treatment or care that’s right for their situation. For patients preparing for childbirth, this may include working with a midwife.

Midwives are healthcare professionals who care for and support women through their reproductive years – mainly through pregnancy and childbirth. At Edward-Elmhurst Health, midwives are advanced practice nurses who are nationally certified and licensed by the state. There’s a common misconception that midwives only do home births, but 96 percent of certified nurse midwives practice in a hospital setting.

A large part of midwifery’s appeal is its focus on personalized care. Women who opt to work with a midwife often have more choices during labor and delivery. They can take charge of the experience and are an active part of the care team. This care can extend beyond childbirth. Midwives provide a range of gynecologic services, including annual exams, family planning and menopausal care. They are also available to help care for newborns and assist new mothers with breastfeeding.

Another aspect that sets midwifery apart is a focus on alternative ways to relieve pain. During traditional childbirth, women are almost always asked if they need an epidural. But midwives often try other options first. For example, a patient may be offered hydrotherapy and warm water immersion during labor to help with pain. Patients may also be offered nitrous oxide, which can relieve pain with a lower risk of side effects. Elmhurst Hospital was the first in DuPage County to offer this option.

If you’re interested in working with a midwife, here are a few things to consider:

  • Are you a candidate? The best candidates are healthy women with no preexisting conditions. Your obstetrician or a midwife can help you find out if you’re a candidate for this type of care.
  • What’s the commitment and availability of providers? Midwives often have more availability and are able to be present and guide women through labor and delivery.
  • What is the practice’s C-section rate? Certified nurse midwives tend to have lower intervention and C-section rates. At Elmhurst Hospital, our C-section rate is 12 percent, which is significantly lower than the national average of 31 percent.

Edward-Elmhurst Health provides both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic options to help our patients experience a childbirth experience that’s right for them. For those interested in learning more about midwifery, we offer free 15-minute meet and greet visits so people can learn more about their options and if they are a candidate for this type of care. To learn more, find a midwife online or call 331-221-9009.
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