When I turned 18, I walked into a gynecologist’s office for the first time.
The clinic lights shone bright and white. The room smelled sanitized and clean. Footsteps on the ground tapped outside in the hallway. The chair underneath me froze the bare skin on my thigh, emulating the air circulating through the vents above.
I wasn’t sure what to expect to be honest, except to, of course, see a gynecologist. Instead, a smiling midwife met me and talked me through the process.
Midwives are health care professionals who provide different services including gynecological examinations, contraceptive counseling, prescriptions and delivery care, according to the American Pregnancy Association. They are unique because they offer both care during and after delivery and believe in natural childbirth.
Through the position, midwives work to educate women about fertility, nutrition, exercise, breastfeeding and anything else a woman may want to know. They provide routine gynecological care as well as assistance during pregnancy and childbirth. According to the American Pregnancy Association, there are different types of midwives depending on your region and their certification.
A certified nurse-midwife is trained and licensed in nursing and midwifery. These midwives earned an accredited Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and pursued a graduate degree in Midwifery.
Other examples include certified midwives who trained in midwifery and earned a bachelor’s degree in a related field, and certified professional midwives who trained in midwifery and met the North American Registry of Midwives standards.
There are also midwives, such as direct-entry midwives and lay midwives, who trained in non-traditional ways. They might have learned midwifery through self-study, a college program or midwifery school.
Lay midwives, in particular, are not certified and learned through self-study.
According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the benefits of using a midwife include decreased infant mortality rates, lower costs for clients, increased chances of having a positive breastfeeding experience and decreased chance of a perineal tear.
Through my own experience, I found a lot of support through the midwife I met with. She knew what she was talking about and prescribed medication accordingly. My mom noted,” She’s just like a doctor!” My mom wasn’t wrong.
Midwives carry a lot of knowledge and form part of many local delivery teams at hospitals. When planning future check-ups, look into all your options and consider a midwife.