Role of the Midwife


Parents-to-be who desire a comfortable, relaxing and intimate atmosphere during childbirth can often opt for home birth or birth centers instead of one at a hospital. However, a home birth can create more worries for parents who choose this option. For instance, questions about the babies' health and welfare can be a major concern. Thus, parents-to-be can choose to employ a midwife. There are, nevertheless, different types of midwives who have different roles. So, picking the right midwife can go according to your needs.


  • According to, in 2005 certified nurse-midwives attended 11.2 percent of American births. Certified nurse-midwives are registered nurses with additional training in midwifery. For instance, they can have master's degrees and at least 2 years in obstetrics and women's health care. Certified nurse-midwives can deliver babies in homes, hospitals or birthing centers. Their role is to stay with you during your labor and delivery. However, certified nurse-midwives can practice in conjunction with a physician in case there are complications.


  • Certified nurse-midwives have a broad range of roles as nurses, obstetricians and OB-GYNs. They can be with women during the entire pregnancy. For instance, certified nurse-midwives can provide prenatal, labor, delivery and postnatal care. Certified nurse-midwives' roles are also to assist with family planning and to counsel in disease prevention and menopause management. They provide newborn care, such as examinations. In addition, they can perform gynecological exams.


  • Certified midwives do not have postgraduate education in midwifery. Instead, they possess a certification by the American Midwifery Certification Board and extensive knowledge on the subject. Lay midwives have experience in caring for pregnant women and assisting during childbirth. However, they do not have the formal educational and training requirements.


  • Certified midwives' roles are the same as certified nurse-midwives; however, lay midwives' roles are distinctly different. Although lay midwives can be with women during labor and delivery, they cannot perform many of the roles the other midwives can. Because lay midwives are not certified by American Midwifery Certification Board, they cannot be in the labor room or help deliver babies in hospitals or birth center. However, lay midwives can attend home births but should have a physician there to help them in case of emergencies.


  • Doulas' roles are to provide emotional and physical support for women and their families during labor and delivery. Although they do not diagnose medical conditions or perform fetal heart monitoring or vaginal exams, they can offer assistance on various topics. For instance, doulas can give advice to women on how to breathe, how to move to a more comfortable position and how to relax. Doulas can also work with midwives to ensure the childbirth goes smoothly.

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