What is a midwife and what services do they provide?

By Ask the OB/GYN  |  9/1/2015

"Midwives are trained to provide medical care and they approach care and pregnancy in a holistic manner."

What is a midwife?

Midwife means “with women.” The modern midwife provides comprehensive women’s health care from adolescence through menopause.

We perform annual GYN exams, prescribe medications for birth control and infections, counsel women on available screening tests for sexually transmitted infections, and provide routine prenatal care.

Why choose a midwife for pregnancy care?

Midwives are trained to provide medical care and we approach care and pregnancy in a holistic manner.

"Midwives are trained to provide medical care and they approach care and pregnancy in a holistic manner."

We are available to discuss the physiological, emotional, social and familial changes that take place, and we help women adjust to these changes.

The midwives of HQMP are unique in the Hudson Valley in that we offer 24-hour midwifery care.

What is the difference between a midwife and a doula?

Doulas are not health care professionals. They do provide hands-on support during the labor and the birth process and accompany the woman and her partner from the home environment to the place of birth (if she is not birthing at home).

They also become a sounding board helping with decision making in terms of interventions. This allows couples to focus on the normalcy and spirituality of childbirth.

Doulas suggest methods for coping with pain in labor, as well as help couples adjust to parenting and breastfeeding.

Do midwives provide pain management during labor?

Using a midwife does not mean birthing without pain medication or without physicians. Midwives can offer a wide range of options for pain relief such as massage, movement, gym balls, showers and baths; then, if necessary, we move on to medications to help the woman rest using pills or IV medications. Anesthesia or an epidural is also available.

What if I have a “high risk” pregnancy or a labor complication?

At HQMP, midwives work alongside the attending physicians. When complications arise, they co-manage the health of the woman and her baby. Midwives are trained to recognize the signs of labor complications and how to intervene appropriately. They do not perform Caesarian sections or vacuum deliveries.

Some high risk pregnancies need to be managed exclusively by physicians, but in most cases, midwives work as a member of the team to provide a safe and satisfying birth experience. HQMP has a Maternal Fetal Medicine physician on staff if high-risk pregnancy care is needed