Medical Tools Used by Midwives


The use of midwives during pregnancy has been around for centuries and there are a few types of midwives to choose from, including certified nurse-midwives, certified professional midwives and direct-entry midwives. These midwives can provide more than just childbirth services, such as prenatal checkups, newborn care, family planning and preconception care. A midwife is not a doctor though. An MD has attended medical school and is trained for all types of emergency situations which may arise during childbirth. The tools a midwife might use are similar to those of a doctor. Familiarizing yourself with those tools will help you better understand the midwife’s role during your labor and delivery.

Gloves, Syringes, and Needles

  • For the health and safety of you and the midwife, gloves are always used when handling the medical tools and when touching you or the baby. It is the only way to ensure that nothing is transferred to the baby after delivery. Syringes and needles are necessary to administer the epidural that will relieve you from some of the pain during labor. Also, midwives may use the syringes to take tissue or blood samples. They may use a smaller heel prick device to take a blood sample from the baby.

Pre & Post Labor Tools

  • A Doppler, or an ultrasound kit, is needed to test the baby’s heartbeat, making sure it is at a normal rhythm. A fetoscope is also used to listen to the fetal heartbeat. A fetoscope has a camera on the tip so it can be inserted inside you to get a better look at the baby. Stethoscopes are used for both you and the baby to check blood pressure. Forceps are used to help remove the baby if it gets stuck, and surgical scissors are used to cut the umbilical cord. Medical knives may also be necessary if you are not dilated enough and a midwife needs to make a small incision to give the baby a wider opening for vaginal delivery.

For the Baby

  • Thermometers are necessary to make sure your body temperature is normal and that the baby does not have a fever after delivery. A mucus extractor is used to clear the baby’s mouth and nose of any mucus and fluids from the womb where it had been growing during pregnancy. A cord clamp is used after the umbilical cord has been cut. A tape measure is used to record how long the baby is at birth.

IV Supplies

  • IVs are sometimes necessary, as they supply fluids to you during labor and delivery. Some midwives and doctors recommend not eating anything except ice chips during labor, so the IV fluid helps provide nutrients you need so your body stays healthy for delivery. Alcohol swabs, gauze and the needle inserted to run the IV fluid through your body are also needed.

Resuscitation Supplies

  • If you have trouble breathing during labor, oxygen is administered. Infant resuscitators and mucus traps are also used if the baby is having trouble breathing after delivery and to clear any fluids deep into its throat.


  • Photo Credit 3pix Studio Associato di Garelli, Maccolini e Piana/iStock/Getty Images
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