How to Find a Midwife - Home Birthing and the Midwife

More and more families are deciding to have natural births - many of them at home - with the help of a midwife. Planned home births, water births, or hypnobirths with a trained midwife have good outcomes and can be the best, most natural way to have a baby. Midwifery, while generally the domain of women, does have some male practitioners and it is a health care profession that is attracting more people to it every year.

What Is A Midwife?

Becoming a midwife, like any health profession, requires time, commitment, and a passion to help people. The International Confederation of Midwives offers the following definition (which has been adopted by WHO and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics):

"A midwife is a person who, having been regularly admitted to a midwifery educational program that is duly recognized in the country in which it is located, has successfully completed the prescribed course of studies in midwifery and has acquired the requisite qualifications to be registered and/or legally licensed to practice midwifery. The education program may be an apprenticeship, a formal university program, or a combination."

The above description alludes to the midwife training required before a person can perform as a midwife and attend births. Choosing a midwife career is a decision that will ultimately enable a midwife to give care to women relative to pregnancy and birth, as well as provide primary care to women, reproductive health care, provide annual gynecological exams and menopausal care as well.

Different Types of Midwives

There are different types of midwives with varying levels of expertise and training. The physician-assistant midwife is a physician's assistant who has taken additional training as a midwife. A physician assistant is licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. A certified nurse-midwife is a registered nurse with a Masters Degree or an Associate Degree with a Certificate in Nurse-Midwifery. This type of midwife is gradually being replaced by women's health advanced practice nurses in traditional medical settings - the result of soaring malpractice insurance rates. A certified midwife has passed both oral and written tests in order to become certified and a direct-entry midwife is not required to be a nurse in order to be a midwife. She can take her training at a midwife school as well as attend workshops and additional training - she chooses how much training she receives and she focuses on home births. However, this type of midwifery also has high death rates. A certified professional midwife is an independent practitioner who has met the criteria for midwife certification also and this branch of midwifery also has a very high rate of deaths.

History of Midwifery

Midwifery history goes back thousands of years, to ancient civilizations where women helped women birth their babies. It was common and expected. But it was just over the past two hundred years that midwifery became a well-established profession, particularly in European countries where they were trained by doctors to handle some of the complexities of birthing babies. However, in America, the midwives did not have the support of the medical profession. Governmental restrictions on top of a lack of motivation due to medical mockery of midwifery, meant the profession was a long time in gaining momentum and credibility.

Finding A Midwife

Finding a midwife to assist in a home birth is a little more difficult than finding Certified Nurse Midwives or Certified Professional Midwives due to the differences in state laws. Some countries, like Canada, have widespread availability, as do many European countries. In the US, things are different. To find a midwife in the US, after deciding where the birth will take place, request a list of approved midwives from the hospital or birthing center (if that's where you decide to give birth), to ensure the midwife can practice there. Check with the insurance company to verify that the birth will be covered by insurance. Depending upon the type of midwife you decide you want to assist with the birth, check the various listings to find midwives in the area. Data shows that midwife costs are substantially lower than physician costs.

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