Midwife FAQs

  • Introduction

    Pregnancy is a complicated life event that can be exciting, joyous, scary, and overwhelming. Skilled health care services are essential for pregnant women. You need a professional to guide you through the pregnancy, birth, and prenatal period. Many woman consider using a midwife to provide this care.

    If you're considering hiring a midwife, you probably have a lot of questions about what they do, how they can help you, and what type of education they have. Here, you'll find the answers to these and other common questions.

  • What is a midwife?

    A midwife supports a woman throughout her pregnancy, during labor and delivery, and postpartum. Certified nurse midwives may also deliver the baby. They typically help women have a more natural pregnancy and childbirth experience. Midwives may also provide other female-centric healthcare services, such as family planning and routine gynecological care.

  • How long does it take to become a midwife?

    Certified midwives must receive training that’s approved by the North American Registry of Midwives. NARM programs typically take about three years to complete. Candidates seeking higher levels of certification may opt to first earn a bachelor’s degree, which takes three to four years.

  • What kind of education does it take to become a midwife?

    Certified midwives receive training or formal education. The levels of education vary, impacting the type of certification they can attain. There are certified nurse-midwives, certified non-nurse midwives, and certified professional midwives. All certifications require basic training. A bachelor’s degree is required for higher levels, along with midwifery education programs.

  • How much does a midwife cost?

    The flat-rate fees commonly charged for midwife services differ depending upon where you live. However, service packages typically range in cost from $3,000 to $9,000. The fee includes prenatal care, labor and delivery, and post-natal care.

  • What is the difference between a midwife and doula?

    Doulas focus mainly on the mother and her needs to enhance the birthing experience. They provide comfort and emotional support during labor. However, doulas don’t deliver babies. Midwives are healthcare professionals who offer a wider range of services, including gynecological exams. They're also trained to deliver babies.

  • Can a midwife deliver a baby?

    Certified midwives are qualified to deliver babies vaginally. They undergo training and receive education for this purpose, among other related skills training. Healthy moms with low-risk pregnancies are suitable candidates for midwife services. Midwives can't perform cesarean section deliveries.

  • What qualifications do you need to become a midwife?

    Each state has their own laws and regulations governing the practice of midwifery. Some states don’t allow non-nurse midwives to practice at all. Nurse midwives (CNMs) can legally practice throughout the United States. They must be licensed registered nurses with specialized training in midwife services from an accredited program.   

  • Can you become a midwife without a degree?

    Yes. Some midwives have no degree, license, or certification. They’re called lay midwives. They typically learn their skills through apprenticeships and informal training with hands-on experience. Laws vary from state to state regarding lay midwives.

  • Can a midwife deliver a baby in a hospital?

    Some hospitals permit certified midwives to deliver babies in their facilities. It depends on the type of certification the midwife has, the relationship between the medical facility and the midwife, and other factors. Midwife-assisted births are most commonly performed in birthing centers. 

  • Can you have both a midwife and an OBGYN assist you with the birthing process?

    Many midwives work with select OB/GYNs. A midwife often refers their patient to the OB/GYN if they see signs of a higher-risk pregnancy. They may then provide collaborative care. These types of arrangements should be discussed and approved as early as possible in a pregnancy.

  • Can you go see a midwife if you are not pregnant?

    Yes. Many midwives offer family planning services and basic gynecological care. They can perform well-woman checks and annual exams. Certified midwives can also offer health counseling and education, supporting women who are planning a pregnancy. Menopausal management is also available. State laws apply.

  • Can a midwife prescribe birth control?

    Some states allow CNMs to prescribe birth control. This may include traditional birth control pills and medical abortion medication. They can also order tests and prescribe some pain medication and various therapies or treatments. Check the laws in your state for more specific information.

  • Can you have an epidural with a midwife?

    Many midwives focus on natural childbirth with less medical intervention. But, most midwives are perfectly fine with the use of epidurals during labor. Their focus is on what’s best for the mom and baby.

  • Is a midwife covered by insurance?

    Most health insurance policies cover midwife services for pregnant women. There are likely to be stipulations and eligibility criteria. So, review your policy carefully to ensure your chosen midwife and their services meet the criteria.

  • When should you see a midwife?

    If possible, you should choose a midwife before you become pregnant. Then, schedule the first visit before the 10-week mark. Visits are usually scheduled monthly for the first 28 weeks. Frequency increases near the end of the second trimester, and throughout the third trimester.

  • Can you have a home birth without a midwife?

    Yes. But it's not recommended. Complications can occur that put you and your baby at risk. You can still have a very natural and fulfilling birthing experience with a midwife. Do research to find one whose practices are in line with your desire to have minimal medical intervention.

  • When do you make a birth plan with a midwife?

    You should start considering a birth plan as soon as you become pregnant. Then, discuss your options and preferences at the first appointment, so you can develop a plan that ensures you and your midwife are on the same page.

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