"In ten years of work in teaching hospitals I have never seen a medical student or obstetric resident spend an entire labor at the bedside. Not even a short labor. Usually not even the pushing part. Comforting women through labor is not part of their training. Ordering medications is."
(Patrick Thornton, CNM)
Midwives and Medication
Many people assume that choosing a midwife limits their childbirth options to home birth. They're often surprised to learn that the majority of Certified Nurse Midwives deliver babies in hospitals and have all the options available at any hospital for managing pain, including epidurals and IV medications.
However, medications are not the only tools we have available. Midwives specialize in assisting women and their loved ones in coping with the discomfort of labor and birth.
We make time to discuss your concerns about pain before labor, and encourage birth classes, reading, yoga or other preparation suited to your specific needs.
We also work with doulas, if desired. Doulas are trained labor assistants who provide personal support and encouragement in labor. Research has demonstrated that this kind of continuous personal care is strongly associated with faster, more comfortable labors, less need for medication, and greater overall satisfaction with the birth experience.
Perhaps most importantly, nurse midwives themselves provide personal care throughout labor. We believe this is partly responsible for our excellent clinical outcomes and safety record. Ample evidence indicates that women and families find it comforting and helpful. It allows the midwife-patient team a greater array of options in dealing with pain and better judgment regarding their use. Again, when women have this kind of high quality support, they usually don't need as much medication. Massage, water therapy, physical movement, relaxation exercises, hypnotherapy, and other techniques can drastically reduce the perception of pain.
No two labors are alike. That's why we encourage an open minded and optimistic approach to labor pain. Rather than fewer options with midwives, most women find they have far more. And if medications or epidurals are needed, they're readily available.
back to top