Really, what is a midwife?

Most people think a midwife simply delivers babies, but midwifery care is so much more than that. Although midwives are probably most well-known for how they help women in labor and delivery, they apply the midwifery model of care with women throughout their lifespan.

The midwifery model of care encourages a compassionate partnership with the patient. Additionally, a midwife will affirm the normal processes of women's lifecycle events. The goal of the midwife is to encourage a woman to maintain a healthy lifestyle and make informed healthcare decisions.

Midwifery care is one of the oldest medical practices in existence. There are references to midwifery in the Old Testament of the Bible as well as in the recorded history of the Egyptian Pharaohs. In ancient societies, when childbirth was the leading cause of death in women, entire social groups depended on the skill of the midwife for the survival of their clan. Midwives held a place of significant stature and were rewarded both financially and socially for their important work.

Although the first midwives concentrated primarily on the processes of childbirth, today's midwives provide personalized care to women of all ages. Nurse-midwives understand the unique physical and emotional needs of women. They understand that the family structure can affect a woman's individual healthcare needs and they take the time to ask questions and listen.

Today's certified nurse-midwife (CNM) is a registered nurse who completed one of the advanced programs accredited by the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM). Certified nurse-midwives are trained and licensed to evaluate healthcare needs of women from puberty onward. Midwives provide preconception counseling, family planning services, preventive gynecological care, as well as screening and treatment for infections. The goal of today's CNM is to engage the patient in conversation and keep the lines of communication open as a woman moves from one stage of life to another.

Whether a patient is deciding on what kind of pain medication is best during labor, or how long to breastfeed a new baby, or how to handle an unexpected gynecological problem, nurse-midwives are here to collaborate on that decision. They are trained to ask questions and guide patients in making the best possible individual, healthcare decision. Nurse-midwives offer safe, personalized healthcare for women of all ages.

Certified nurse-midwives Julie Rischar and Shelley Russell (CNM) of All About Women Obstetrics & Gynecology offer women of Gainesville and surrounding areas the most compassionate, experienced midwifery care during pregnancy and all stages of life. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule an appointment.

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