Phelps Health Women's Health Center and Maternity offers a midwifery program together with its established women's health services. Certified Nurse Midwives Heather Kocinski, CNM, WHNP, and Karen Ulrich, CNM, MSN, APRN, are part of this program at Phelps Health and care for women through every stage in life.
What Is a Certified Nurse Midwife?
There are varying types of midwives from lay to professionally trained, but certified nurse midwives (CNM) and certified midwives (CM) are the most educated. Since 2010, CNMs and CMs are required to have a master's degree to practice midwifery. Kocinski and Ulrich are CNMs, which means they are skilled in both nursing and midwifery disciplines.
CNMs provide a wide spectrum of primary healthcare to women of all ages. They care for women during adolescence to post-menopause; through pregnancy, birth and postpartum care; establish well woman gynecologic care; provide sexual health and education; and prescribe medications, including all forms of pain control medications and birth control.
Midwifery care is available to all women, though some may need additional physician support or co-management. At Phelps Health, each case is tailored to the individual, and the patient's wishes and desired outcomes are placed at the forefront of each care plan.
Is Midwifery a New Profession?
No. Midwives have been assisting women in labor and delivery as long as women have been having babies. In the United States, the practice of obstetrics began in the mid-1800s, and at that time, obstetricians (in addition to midwives) began attending births. As the popularity for hospital deliveries, pain management during labor and obstetrician providers increased, the number of midwives attending births decreased. By the mid to late-1900s, midwifery was almost nonexistent in the US, but today midwifery is resurging into the American healthcare system.
How Do CNMs Work with Obstetricians and Gynecologists?
CNMs work with all members of the obstetrics healthcare team, which includes OB/GYN physicians and nurses. There are many successful and thriving examples of joint obstetrician and midwife practices in the US. In these practices, some patients choose sole obstetrician care and some choose sole midwifery care. Still, others may start with midwifery care and need to see an obstetrician periodically or have their care transferred. A joint midwifery and OB/GYN practice increases the availability of prenatal services in a community, improves communication between providers and improves overall patient satisfaction and outcomes.
Midwifery care differs slightly from traditional, physician-led care throughout pregnancy and birth. CNMs are educators who work with patients and their families toward specific goals; the education centers on health promotion, optimal outcomes and disease reduction. Perhaps one of the biggest differences is that throughout labor, a nurse midwife is a constant presence. They assist women and their families to have the birth experience that is best for them by focusing on high touch, low intervention and constant support.