Types of Midwives
Women have been helping each other have babies for millennia; midwife literally means “with woman”.
Pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding have been a normal part of life since time began. Community midwives around the world have always been the go-to people for helping bring babies into the world; with their compassion and learned skill in creating a safe space for the mothers to let go and for the babies to arrive. This was the case in the United States until the early 20th century when medical doctors and state health departments started intervening in the midwives’ work and birth became seen as a dramatic, unnatural event.
The history of women helping women have babies is vast and rich, full of amazing storytelling and strong women, and families passing down skills generation to generation. Most midwives know that they carry on this tradition, however knowing the stories and having the experience is frequently not enough in North American society and western medical culture; it has become required for women to prove themselves capable of helping other women have babies. In order to fit into the system, midwives have been working for almost half a century to become recognized health care providers in the U.S., specializing in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care. There is still work to be done, as half of the states in the U.S. do not recognize professional midwifery care, let alone homebirth.To simplify things, in the United States, there are two types of midwives:
The legitimate research that has been published in both North America and Europe fully supports that the care a midwife gives to her clients results in good outcomes, comparable to a similar low-risk population in the hospital.
- Outcomes of Care for 16,924 Planned Home Births in the United States: The Midwives Alliance of North America Statistics Project, 2004 to 2009 by Melissa Cheyney, PhD, CPM, LDM, Marit Bovbjerg, PhD, MS, Courtney Everson, MA, Wendy Gordon, MPH, CPM, LM, Darcy Hannibal, PhD, Saraswathi Vedam, CNM, MSN, RM. JMWH, Volume 59, No. 1, January/February 2014.
- Outcomes of Planned Home Births with Certified Professional Midwives: Large Prospective Study in North America. by Kenneth C Johnson, senior epidemiologist, Betty-Anne Daviss, project manager. BMJ 2005;330:1416 (18 June).
- Home Birth: The Medical Literature on the Safety of Home Birth. James Hughes, Ph.D. Home Birth Research: Citations from the medical literature that generally demonstrate the safety of home births.
- Closing the Theory–Practice Gap: Intrapartum Midwifery Management of Planned Homebirths. Saraswathi Vedam, CNM, MSN, Meredith Goff, CNM, MS, and Vicki Nolan Marnin, CNM, MSN. J Midwifery Womens Health 2007;52:291–300,
- Home Birth: An annotated guide to the literature. Saraswathi Vedam, RM, FACNM, MSN, Laura Schummers BSc, and Colleen Fulton, BA, MA