What is a Midwife?

Scroll down to read what is a midwife, local hospital, birth center and homebirth midwives, and local informational gatherings on midwives.

The term midwife reflects a philosophy of care; one that is more specifically directed at the woman and her individual reproductive needs. A midwife usually offers a variety of options and seeks to eliminate or minimize unnecessary interventions. This philosophy of care is represented by the Midwives Model of Care:

The midwives model of care is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes. The midwives model of care includes:

  • Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
  • Providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
  • Minimizing technological interventions
  • Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention1

What is a midwife?

A midwife is a healthcare professional that provides an array of health care services for women that may include medical histories and genealogical examinations, contraceptive counseling, prescriptions, and labor and delivery care. Providing care during labor, delivery and after birth is a specialty of midwifery that makes them unique experts.

What services do midwives provide?

The services of a midwife depend on the certification and licensure credentials obtained and the practice restrictions within each state. Because of the additional licensure in nursing, a nurse-midwife provides the most comprehensive array of healthcare services to women.

These services include: annual gynecological exams, family planning and preconception care, prenatal care, labor and delivery support, newborn care, and menopausal management. Midwives generally provide reproductive education directed at fertility, nutrition and exercise, contraception, pregnancy health, breastfeeding and quality infant care. Midwives often serve as a quality economical option for birthing care.

What are the different types of midwives?

Midwives are qualified health care providers that go through comprehensive training and examinations for certification. Certification is offered by the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) and the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). The practice and credentials related to midwifery may differ throughout the United States. Below is a description of each type of midwife that is allowed to legally practice in California.

  • Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM): an individual trained and licensed in both nursing and midwifery. Nurse-midwives possess at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education and are certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives.
  • Licensed Midwife (LM): an individual trained in midwifery in a three-year post secondary education program and who has been issued a license to practice midwifery by the Medical Board of California.

For more information on how California midwives get licensed please visit this website- California Medical Board

Where do midwives practice?

Midwives believe in facilitating a natural childbirth as much as possible. Accordingly, it is common to receive care from a midwife in a private and comfortable birthing center or in the comforts of your own home. Because of their professionalism and expertise, midwives are often part of a labor and delivery team associated with the local hospital. You may choose to use the services of a midwife whether you elect to give birth at home, a birthing center, or in a hospital.

What are the benefits of using a midwife?
One of the main reasons that women elect to use a midwife in their home, at a birthing center or in the hospital is to experience the childbirth process as naturally as possible.

A focus on options is another benefit associated with electing midwifery care. Midwives often have payment plans, sliding fees, and accept most insurance plans, including Medicaid.

According to the doctoral research conducted by Peter Schlenzka, an election to use a midwife and natural delivery may result in the following benefits:

• Lower maternity care costs
• Reduced mortality and morbidity related to cesarean and other interventions
• Lower intervention rates
• Fewer recovery complications

Electing to use a midwife is appropriate for low risk pregnancies which make up 60 to 80% of all pregnancies. In Schlenzka’s review of over 800,000 births, he reports there are no advantages of an obstetric hospital approach as compared to a midwife setting inside or outside of the hospital.

What are the concerns related to using a midwife?

Low risk pregnancies make up 60 to 80% of all pregnancies, which means that between 20 to 40% of all other pregnancies could have a potential complication. There are times when either the mother or the baby will require medical interventions that are outside the scope of services offered by a midwife. Midwives routinely consult with obstetricians, perinatologists, and other healthcare professionals and will refer women to the necessary medical professionals if complications arise.

If complications are anticipated, it is recommended that women elect a hospital setting where there is easier access to obstetricians, perinatologists, and other experts prepared to deal with a variety of complications related to either the mother or the newborn baby.

Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. Collaborative statement created by Midwives Alliance of North America, the North American Registry of Midwives, the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council and Citizens for Midwifery.
2.Schlenzka, Peter, “Safety of Alternative Approaches to Childbirth,” Department of Social Work and Sociology, Ferrum College, 1999.
3.Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: The Complete Guide. Simkin, Penny, et al, Ch. 1.
4.American College of Nurse-Midwives, http://www.midwife.org/

Bay Area Midwives

Hospital Birth

Bay Area Maternity and Women’s Health (BAM)
Lin Lee, CNM
Maria Greulich, CNM
10430 S. De Anza Boulevard, Suite 230
Cupertino, CA 95014
Delivering at El Camino Hospital- Los Gatos.
Meet the midwives free informational meeting
Third Sunday of every month 5-7:00pm
Please call for meeting location.

Free Standing Birth Center in Greater South Bay/Santa Cruz

Casa Natal Birth Center
50 W. Main St, Suite D, Morgan Hill CA 95037
Melissa Dean

Full Moon Family Wellness and Birth Center
701 Mission Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Sunshine Tomlin

Homebirth in Greater South Bay/ Peninsula

Informational Gatherings on Homebirth Midwives at The South Bay Homebirth Collective- 967 W Hedding St, Suite 110 – San Jose, CA  95126

Please see these websites for more homebirth midwives in the Greater Bay Area- www.bayareamidwives.com