Common misconceptions about midwives

Midwives, broadly defined as people (generally women) who help with childbirth, have been attending births throughout history. And because of how long the profession has been around, midwives are often associated with old-fashioned, dated care, and with folk wisdom over formal education. But in reality, most midwives are required to be certified and licensed to practice, and to meet qualifications for modern, thorough care. 

  1. Midwives can’t write prescriptions
    In many countries, midwives have the independent authority to write prescriptions. The matter is a little muddier in the US, since there are several types of midwives, but Certified Nurse Midwives, or CNMs, do have full authority to write prescriptions in all fifty states. Certified Midwives, or CMs, are authorized to write prescriptions in some states, depending on state legal recognition.
  2. Midwives only attend homebirths
    While it’s true that women who give birth attended by a midwife are more likely to have the option to give birth at home, the majority of midwife-attended births happen in hospitals, and still others take place in independent birthing centers. Many women who turn to midwives do want the very personal experience of giving birth at home. But many others prefer not to give birth at home.
  3. You can only have a “natural” birth with a midwife
    One of the biggest misconceptions about giving birth with a midwife is that women who do are not allowed to have pain medication. While it’s true that many midwives advocate a birth experience with as few medical interventions as is safe, the desires and well-being of the woman in labor are also highly important parts of labor. For many women, that includes pain medication. Midwives who deliver in hospitals generally support the choice of the woman to have an epidural, and an anesthesiologist administers the epidural while the midwife is present.  
    Midwives are also careful to watch out for signs that a vaginal birth might not be the safest choice for any given woman. If a midwife determines that a C-section might be the safest way to deliver a baby, she or he transfers care to an obstetrician.
  4. Insurance doesn’t cover midwives
    While it’s true that not all insurance plans cover the cost of hiring a midwife, others do, or offer reimbursements after the fact. Insurance companies are more likely to cover the care of a midwife who attends births at a hospital or birthing center than home births, but in either case, it’s definitely worth checking.

  • “Midwife or Doctor: Which Should I Choose?” YourChildbirthGuide., 2016. Web.
  • GoHealth. “Does my Health Insurance Cover Midwives?” GoHealthInsurance. GoHealth, Apr 2015. Web.
  • MamaWendy. “Demystifying Midwife-Supported Natural Childbirth Part 1: Misconceptions and Facts About Midwives.” AwakeningWillow. Awakening Willow, Apr 2011. Web.
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