Is A Midwife Right for You?

When I was pregnant with my son, almost eleven years ago, the internet was more of a nerdy luxury than anything else. It certainly wasn’t the addiction jeweled resource it is now.  I unearthed information on pregnancy and childbirth from family, friends and a chance encounter with a young, "hip" mama named Ariel Gore, who had just written a book for pregnant and parenting folks, in the form of a radio interview one morning. 

My husband and I somehow stumbled our way towards the decision to receive prenatal care from, and birth with the help of, a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). Our insurance covered this care and I could birth at a birthing center attached to a hospital mere blocks from our house. While I certainly have learned heaps more since then, about pregnancy and birth, I consider myself immensely blessed to have been able to access the choices and care I did. 

There is no question in my mind that we are moving towards greater and more expanded options for care for pregnant and birthing women in this country. As the health care reform discussion twists and turns and avalanches to some kind of end (god, I hope), I am grateful that it’s allowed us an opportunity to address critical issues for women in regards to maternity care: the lack of maternity coverage, incomplete maternity coverage, the rising rates of unnecessary c-sections, coverage for the provider of our choice (CNM, professional midwife, Ob-Gyn, etc.) in the environment of our choice (hospital, at home, birthing center). 

The American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) is seizing this opportunity to educate women even further. With the creation of their new site,, ACNM presents women with the chance to ask the important question, "Who will deliver my baby?" A series of questions and statements are designed, as a quiz, to help a woman who is pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant make one of the most important decisions one can make when pregnant: what kind of birth attendant will help bring her baby into the world. 

The answers are important, of course. But in the questions and statements themselves women may find possibilities they never knew existed for their labor and birth:

I want the freedom to move about in labor, including walking, rocking, standing, and walking to the bathroom. 

I would like to hold my baby immediately after s/he is born
and don’t want to be separated from my baby in the hours after birth. 

For my prenatal visits, I think shorter appointments will make me feel
rushed and I would prefer longer appointments so I can take my time in
asking questions and getting answers from my care provider.

In labor, I want a health care provider who will be there to support and encourage me during my labor and birth. 

Answers to these various questions and statements ultimately help provide the basis for the recommendation, at the end of the quiz, that receiving care from an ob-gyn or midwife (or both!) is best for your particular health circumstances and vision for your labor and birth. ACNM has members that are both CNMs and CMs (Certified Midwives – not Nurse-Midwives) so the recommendation, for example, that you match well with a midwife can mean either a CNM or CM. ACNM then provides sample questions (What is your rate of cesarean section? Episiotomy?; In the case of home birth or birth center birth, which hospital would you go to if a transfer is needed?) a woman can use while she searches for the right provider. 

I have no doubt that as we continue to spread the word that our health care system has let pregnant and birthing women down by: over-medicalizing birth for healthy pregnant women, encouraging medical interventions like (unnecessary) cesearean sections and labor induction, and attempting to squeeze out competition from licensed, professional midwives, we will see a wider flow of information like the site ACNM has set up, ensuring women understand and have access to a full range of options for pregnancy and birth.

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  • melgarvey

    I absolutely love researching my own health needs on the Internet. I consider myself blessed to be exposed to so much information before I’ve even started trying to have kids.

  • smjesq

    Thanks, Amie, for another great blog about midwives and choices in childbirth.
    I just wish ACNM had acknowledged CPMs, along with CNMs and CMs, as a valid option for women whose choices indicate a preference for midwifery care.
    Also, not to bring out the language police, but I sort of wonder at ACNM’s terminology for this site — after all, it’s the woman who delivers her baby, not the provider.

  • crowepps

    The problem with words like ‘deliver’ is that they are fuzzy when used for a number of similar but different concepts. 



    v. de·liv·ered, de·liv·er·ing, de·liv·ers

    1. To bring or transport to the proper place or recipient; distribute:
    2. To surrender (someone or something) to another; hand over:
    3. To secure (something promised or desired), as for a candidate or political party:
    4. To throw or hurl:
    5. To strike (a blow).
    6. To express in words; declare or utter:
    a. To give birth to: "She delivered a baby boy this morning."
    b. To assist (a woman) in giving birth: "The doctor delivered her of twins."
    c. To assist or aid in the birth of: "The midwife delivered the baby."

    8. To give forth or produce:
    9. To set free, as from misery, peril, or evil:

  • melgarvey

    The word "deliver" was actually a huge point of debate throughought the development process of this quiz. Our goal is to reach women who have no idea that a midwife might be right for them. If a woman doesn’t even know about midwives, I can’t imagine she would be likely to take a quiz at or The reality is that when most US women think about someone attending their birth, they think of someone "delivering" their baby.