The word “midwife” likely means different things to different people. For the majority, the likely picture is an outdated one. Even some of my closest friends and neighbors are often surprised to learn that I take care of women for their gynecologic needs, that I can prescribe medicines, or even that I have a Master’s degree in Nursing/Midwifery.
The number one comment I get when I tell women that I can take care of them is “Oh, honey, I don’t need you anymore! I am finished having babies.” They (laugh). I then explain…
Yes, I do take care of women throughout pregnancy and birth, but I also care for women for all of their normal gynecologic needs from the teen years through menopause. This includes routine health exams, family planning and treatment of minor problems. I believe that the woman should be a partner in her own health care, leading to greater satisfaction with the health care experience.
Second question: Don’t I need a doctor? Answer to that one is, it depends on your condition. Most pregnancies (85%) are normal, and most women are healthy. Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Midwives are experts at normal. We are also trained to work within the healthcare system and with other health professionals, including physicians, to ensure that the patient receives the best care possible. If the patient’s condition warrants it; consultation, collaboration or transfer to a physician can be arranged. Today the president of ACOG, John C. Jennings, M.D. made this wonderful statement about collaboration in honor of midwifery week. I am thankful for all of the collaborating physicians that I have worked with through the years and their dedication to patient care. I believe that the best patient care is delivered when midwives and physicians work as a team based on the needs of the patient.
Nurse Midwives work in all areas of the State of Kentucky providing care in private offices, federally qualified health centers, in hospitals and in homes. We work in all areas throughout the U.S. If you have any questions about midwifery, feel free to ask… #WomenNeedMidwives. #MidwivesMakeADiffernence.
“If these United States can be called a body, then Kentucky can be called It’s heart”-Jesse Stuart
I think that Jesse Stuart would agree that Kentucky is the heart of Midwifery as well. Every aspiring nurse- midwifery student learns the story of how Mary Breckinridge founded the Frontier Nursing Service to meet the needs of the families in Leslie County. In order to serve the entire population, Mrs. Breckinridge brought to Kentucky the concept of a professional who was trained in both nursing and midwifery. Because of the vast geographical area, Mrs. Breckinridge set up a decentralized model of care consisting of a central hospital and several outposts/nursing clinics, with the nurse-midwives making their rounds via horseback. Her goal was to have this care be a model for care world wide.
Mrs. Breckinridge was also the first to document research in the area of nurse-midwifery. Her results were tabulated by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
The study shows conclusively what has in fact been shown before, that the type of service rendered by the Frontier Nurses safeguards the life of mother and babe. If such service were available to the women of the country generally, there would be a saving of 10,000 mothers’ lives per year in the United States, there would be 30,000 less still births and 30,000 more children alive at the end of the first month of life. The study demonstrates that the first need today is to train a large body of nurse-midwives, competent to carry out the routines that have been established both in the Frontier Nursing Service and in other places where good obstetrical care is available.
2014 Marks the 75th Anniversary of Frontier Nursing University. Frontier is the longest operating nurse-midwifery program in the U.S. Frontier continues to graduate competent caring nurse- midwives who practice in Kentucky and across the nation. Celebrations are ongoing. We are proud to have such a great asset in our state. Congratulations FNU!!!
As I reflect on what it means to be a nurse-midwife, I know that although I do not always know what lies ahead, I know that what matters is life. Moms and babes. Midwifery matters. Let’s continue to keep Mary’s dream alive….
National Midwifery Week is happening now October 5-11, 2014!!!
If you would like to find out more about nurse-midwives and how we make a difference in the lives of moms and babes