Midwives offer care alternative for women at all stages of life

Joanne Burris, APRN, CNM

In honor of National Midwifery Week, we asked certified nurse midwife Joanne Burris of the UK Midwife Clinic a few questions about midwifery as well as the care and services offered at the UK Midwife Clinic.

UK HealthCare is proud to work in collaboration with the midwives at the UK Midwife Clinic. The partnership began this spring as the clinic, formerly Womankind Midwives, merged with UK HealthCare to promote positive health experiences for women and provide more opportunities for research and exceptional, compassionate care.

What kind of training do midwives go through?

There are several different types of midwives, but all of the midwives at UK are certified nurse midwives. This means our midwives have attended nursing school to earn their registered nurse (RN) license as well as graduate school to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) specializing in midwifery. Additionally, CNMs must pass a national board exam after earning their master’s degree. They are then called advanced practice registered nurses, or APRNs.

What kind of services can a midwife provide?

From the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM): Midwifery as practiced by certified nurse midwives (CNMs) encompasses a full range of primary health care services for women from adolescence to beyond menopause. These services include primary care, gynecologic and family planning services, preconception care, and care during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.

How is the midwife approach to care different than that of a traditional obstetrician?

Certified nurse midwives are experts in normal pregnancy. We care for healthy, low-risk women. One of the hallmarks of midwifery is refraining from intervention in the absence of complications, so we value allowing nature to take its course when things are going well.

A physician is an expert in pathology and we are grateful for our collaborative relationships with OBs when our patients present with risk factors.

Can I deliver at a hospital if I use a midwife?

Absolutely! According to the ACNM, 94 percent of CNMs attend births in hospitals. All of UK’s midwives attend births only at UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital.

Can my midwife prescribe any medications that I may need?

With the exception of some controlled substances, midwives with the proper certification can prescribe most medications.

Who should seek midwifery care?

Midwives are experts in low-risk, healthy pregnancies. Women who have known high-risk factors would be better served by an obstetrician.

What’s a doula, and do we have them as part of our UK midwifery practice?

A doula provides continuous non-clinical support to women during their birth. They offer education, physical and emotional support, and advocacy. They should not offer medical advice, perform clinical exams or speak for the patient. We do not have doulas as a part of the UK Midwife Clinic staff, but some insurance policies will cover the cost of a doula and we encourage our patients to use them.

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